Arming Teachers: A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea

The unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School left us all horrified with an uneasy feeling of vulnerability. Predictably, as we wrestle with questions about why and how something so gruesome and incomprehensible could happen, some reactions have been strong and swift: more gun control, better access to mental health services. Some have been feeble: curtailing violent movies and video games. And well, some can only be described as downright lunacy.

Image via Credo Action

I readily admit, I hate guns. And the recent happening in Newtown has aggravated my feelings in this area. The tragedy also has me thinking a lot about teachers. Not from an academic point of view, but in the visceral feelings I have for teachers I have loved. There were only a few but they all had the same qualities in common: Patience. Compassion. Understanding. Passion.

Strangely enough, I don’t recall any of them having the reflexes of a marksman able to shoot the spots off of a ladybug a mile away. Not exactly the most endearing quality a teacher can possess. But then, I graduated school before crazy became the new normal. Before the gun-rights cabal spied an opportunity to push its pro-gun agenda on schools, and gun manufacturers saw a chance to rake in fear-laden cash.

It kicked off with the benevolent N.R.A. calling to arm teachers and other school officials. Of course, the nation’s largest gun lobby is a true friend of public education – that’s why it bankrolls a conservative group like ALEC aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools.

With the N.R.A. edict, gun zealots were off and running, eager to turn the nation’s teachers into gunslingers: launching a test program in tactical firearms training; offering free concealed weapons classes; and providing an “intensive three-day class” where educators can learn tactics “used by first responders.” Silly me for thinking law enforcement was a trained profession. Little did I know patrolling the playground was preparation for taking down a gun-wielding perp.

But what good is training if pistol-packing teachers are prohibited from bringing guns onto school property. Enter N.R.A. acolytes in Congress, state legislatures, and governors’ mansions – a smorgasbord of gun advocates who’d rather arm teachers than whisper a word about common-sense gun control.

Arming teachers is a knee-jerk reaction fueled by the absurd fantasy that armed civilians can stop a mass murderer. They can’t. But they very well might get themselves killed or put bystanders in danger. In a classroom, that means someone’s child!

With right-wing hysteria in full bloom, it’s really easy to lose sight of who isn’t crying out to turn schools into the OK Corral: local school districts, PTAs and teachers themselves. I boldly deduce that the steely resolve to kill another human being may not be programmed into someone who has just wiped a first-grader’s snotty nose or asked a class of fidgety 8-year-olds to put on their listening ears.

The N.R.A. and gun zealots push guns like a crack dealer, cloaking themselves in drivel about “freedom” in a country where there are more gun dealers than grocery stores. We can’t allow their ridiculous arguments to go unchallenged any longer. They have shown themselves to be radical, tone-deaf and, ultimately, more interested in gun sales than human lives.

Basically, they want to feel powerful. And that is hardly sufficient justification for putting our kids at risk.


  1. Immediately following the massacre at Sandy Hook, I never would have believed what would come out of it was a call to arm teachers as the answer to our violence crisis in America. I am still shocked, and upset that the focus shifted in such an unproductive way.

    • Likewise! There is no constituency calling for more guns in schools other than NRA. Not administrators, not teachers, sure as heck not parents. It’s disappointing that we now have Pres. Obama and Sen. Barbara Boxer apparently considering adopting the NRA’s bone-headed proposal. K12NN petition – – calls for no armed teachers, no police in schools. Pls sign/tweet/share.

  2. In order for the guns to be useful in a crisis they would have to be loaded and easily accessible. And if they’re loaded and accessible to teachers it wouldn’t be that much harder for a student to get a hold of one. I shudder to think how many accidental deaths would occur from this.

    • The situation has disaster written all over it. Exactly right. To be effective, gun would have to be loaded and drawer unlocked, making it as easy for a teacher to grab as a student–would you want your child in a class with an unlocked loaded gun? I wouldn’t. In fact, I’d pull my kid out of that school so fast heads would spin. Have you read the litany of accidental shooting death stories in the news? The entire premise is insane.


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