Teachers all across America have been asked to be more than teachers to their students for many, many years. After school programs, sports and other activities are all run by dedicated teachers and, in many cases, those teachers become closer and know more about the lives of the students they coach, mentor or supervise than the students own parents.
Whether it is a public or private school teacher, most have many roles during their time in and out of the classroom. Some are called upon to be parents, doctors, nurses, social workers, bus drivers, counselors, psychologists, and mentors – and now, some want teachers to serve as cops with deadly force responsibility, all the while educating our country’s most precious resource: our children.
In Tennessee and in other states around the country, the knee jerk reaction by state legislators who are attempting to appear proactive against any prospective massacres such as the one that took place in Newtown, Connecticut is to arm teachers. Many of the people who are calling for this are of the same political mind as those who have maligned teachers in recent years – marginalizing their performance, integrity and professionalism.
This call to arms is the same call to arms promoted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in their recent response to the Connecticut shootings. The idea that “might makes right” rang through as NRA chief Wayne LaPierre not only called for arming teachers but turning schools into armed camps. Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas is on record stating that if the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal had her own AK-47 she would have been able to taken out the mad man shooter.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 was enacted and upheld for ten years and had it not been for the efforts of conservative politicians, the NRA and gun manufacturers the Assault Weapons ban would still be the law of the land.
Critics of the law said it did not accomplish what intended because mass shootings like that in Columbine may have still occurred, and they say ‘you are not going to stop a person from getting a gun if they want one’. But there is no doubt that during 1994-2004 the Assault Weapons Ban proved to be a very effective means of keeping high-powered weapons of mass destruction off the streets and out of the hands of people bent on causing pain, destruction and death. The weapons used in the last three mass shootings are all of the variety that would have all been banded under the law.
A University of Pennsylvania study on the effectiveness of the law found that violent crimes with the use of the banned weapons fell 72% during the ten years the law was in effect – yet the law was deemed ineffective because assault weapons were only used in a minimal number of the total amount of gun crimes.
The power of the gun lobby and the money spent on the protection of American’s right to gun ownership has left many people who have common sense dismayed at the thought of teachers carrying concealed weapons. By asking a teacher to carry a gun we are asking that teacher to be ready to kill –to be willing to be involved in a fire fight to the death. This is far beyond the range of acceptable behavior for most teachers and the thought of having to protect their charges and themselves with deadly physical force is something teachers should not be asked to be a part of.
There are common sense remedies to stop the explosion of gun violence in America, remedies that have and will stand up to constitutional challenges. The critics of reasonable gun laws such as the Assault Weapons Ban will cite the ineffectiveness of the law and instead of making the law stronger, they would rather keep all the protections off the books and allow innocent people be slaughtered. This is simply unacceptable.