- Legislation created in the state senate would enable school districts to arm school employees with guns to deter violence in schools.
- This bill should be shot and killed. Arming educators is not the answer. There are much better ways to protect students and staff at schools than asking educators to take on the role of security.
Many ideas — good and bad — to make schools safer have been pursued in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
Some of the more sensible ideas include requiring background checks for all gun purchases, limiting the rounds per clip at 10, and banning the sale of assault weapons.
Another good idea was recently put forward by local restaurateurs Andy and Karin Montero, who kicked off a $50,000 fundraising goal with a $1,000 pledge to buy electronic security systems at schools.
Additionally, some advocate having schools hire additional psychologists and mental health experts, which is a good idea, too. Many schools don’t have those positions, and those that do see their employees stretched with other duties.
Another good idea was actually offered by the National Rifle Association: Put trained resource officers at each school. That would be expensive. It’s estimated that it would cost about $7.3 million to post a security guard at every elementary school statewide. But as we’ve already advocated, a tax levied on gun sales could raise funds to cover the cost. Would the NRA go along with that stipulation, too? So far, the organization hasn’t indicated any willingness to do so.
Meanwhile, a particularly bad idea that, unfortunately, has moved to legislation is that of arming teachers, principals and other school staff. Senate Bill 27 would affect both public and charter schools.
The reality, of course, is that public school teachers would rather be armed with current textbooks and computers — money for which has been slashed — rather than guns.
“Personally and professionally, I believe that all teachers need to be armed — they need to be armed with the best tools and resources available to teach each child they are entrusted with teaching,” said Camden Schools Superintendent Melvin Hawkins.
Our Republican-controlled Legislature apparently prefers guns.
Davidson County Republican state Sen. Stan Bingham, sponsor of Senate Bill 27, wants to create the position of a “school safety marshal” and allow teachers, administrators and janitors to complete a new state-designed training course to carry guns on campuses.
Republican state Sen. Bill Cook of Beaufort, who represents our region, is a co-sponsor.
Cook doesn’t like the marshal concept of the bill, which he envisions as an armed uniformed guard, but rather he likes teachers discreetly possessing a gun — without tipping off students or visitors. Uncertainty about who has a gun is a good thing, he said.
Cook said if the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary had a gun, the outcome would have been different.
“Can you imagine if she had a gun? That jerk would have peed in his pants and left,” Cook said. “I believe that the only way to stop someone using deadly force is with deadly force.”
On the contrary, most experts agree that even worse consequences could result from teachers and staff being armed.
Gun frenzy advocates would rather everyone carry a gun, just like the old days of the wild west. Some Second Amendment fanatics also believe restaurants, parks, bars, airports, sporting arenas and other public places would be safer with more guns.
So where do we draw the line? In the NRA’s eye’s, we don’t.
The NRA’s goals are simply to expand gun ownership to everyone, a position that lines the pockets of their masters, the gun and ammo makers. Then those companies use profits from gun sales to pay off lawmakers to keep their mission going.
Sensible people, meanwhile, many of whom are gun owners, support several of the gun control ideas offered, but reject Senate Bill 27.
“It’s just absurd,” Gail Neely, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, told The Raleigh News & Observer. “We don’t want a militarized environment for our children.”
Added Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake school board: “I don’t know that we want to turn our schools into armed fortresses.”
Further, there’s the issue of liability. Will school districts and taxpayers be more at risk of costly litigation when accidental shootings occur and lawsuits are filed?
Having armed resource officers in schools is justified. Administrators and teachers already are occupied with the more crucial work of preparing students for the future. Adding school security to their duties would be egregiously misguided and dangerous. The thinking behind Senate Bill 27 reflects little understanding of what educators actually do.
Meanwhile, the culture that says everyone must carry a gun to be safe must change. There should be fewer guns in the public arena, not more.