Arming Teachers: Decreasing Security by Securitization

Benjamin Beach, News Editor

“Arming teachers really doesn’t make sense—after all, we already have a police officer within the school,” said BoeminPark (10). Considering recent events, the most prominent of which is the Sandy HookElementary School shooting, many officials are considering arming teachers. Given the highly publicized events, many members of the public are under the impression that schools and those that attend them are in grave danger; however, this is a statistical misconception though: one is more likely to be struck by lightning several times, than be a victim of a school shooting. For this reason, the armament of the staff of various institutions due to apparent lack of security is both unnecessary and dangerous.

A primary concern with arming teachers is the potential for accidental harm. Perhaps one of the most important considerations is that of a teacher accidentally harming a student. Considering the fact that even trained police officers can occasionally miss their targets during a confrontation, the potential for collateral damage is exceptionally high when teachers are the ones wielding the firearms. “I would not feel any safer if teachers were armed,” said Matthew Krinock (10), “the risk of an accident is too high.” This risk is further compounded when one takes into account that, under extreme pressure, a teacher might mistake a student for a criminal in the hallways and harm him or her.

Another concern with arming teachers is that one might leave such a weapon in an insecure location, despite being concealed, by accident and a student could gain access one: “It could be dangerous, especially if [guns] are left lying around,” said Kali Snyder (10). The relatively unstable adolescent psyche and the potential for, in a fit of emotion, a student harming a peer is of paramount importance when considering the potential harm of arming teachers. Over the years, many arguments have turned violent at high schools across the country—adding guns to this dangerous mix would spell catastrophe.

Some might argue that administrators should securitize schools, and that arming teachers would be both a safe and effective way to carry out this plan. This mindset, however, is fundamentally flawed, for several reasons, perhaps the most important reason being that a police officer already resides on campus at all times for most schools. Equally important is the fact that schools were designated as “weapons free zones” for a reason: to prevent firearms and other weapons from proliferating the campus. “Arming teachers would give people the feeling it’s okay to bring weapons to school,” said Hannah Wang (10). Furthermore, the chances of harm exceed the chances of actually helping subdue a criminal, potential internal security threats, such as a student seizing a firearm, outweigh the probability of a school actually coming under fire, which is less than 1 in 53,925.

The apparent need to arm teachers against an armed assailant is great if one believes everything that the mass media have produced on the subject, but considering the true odds of such an event occurring, that perception quickly evaporates. If an assault on the school did occur though, the officer liaison that is present at the school could easily call for aid and subdue the criminal, removing any remaining need to arm teachers. “There is no reason to arm teachers; arming them would just make the school itself more dangerous,” said Park. The armament of the staff of Portage Northern is both an unnecessary and dangerous endeavor that instead of achieving its goal of securing the school, will only destabilize it further.