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How a Local Teacher of the Year Responds to the Idea of Armed Educators

Hello, Flagstaff!

In the wake of the Parkland shooting and renewed calls for action and solutions to gun violence in schools, I wanted to promote the voices of those in the schools rather than speak for them. As such, I offered my space this month to a teacher. Thank you to Jeff Taylor for offering us his eloquent and heartfelt thoughts on this issue.

In the 19 years since Columbine, nearly 200 school shootings have occurred, including at the high school from which I graduated. But, what can we do to stop the carnage? One proposal by our president is to arm teachers. As the NRA likes to say, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” However, it is with universal condemnation by teachers, administrators, school resource officers and police departments that this idea needs to immediately be thrown onto the waste heap of stupid ideas.

Let’s start with the most basic premise: that teachers with guns will make the campus safer. First of all, the vast majority of teachers have no knowledge about using guns in an active shooter situation. But “training”…that’s what advocates say. Ignoring the fact that teachers in this state cannot even earn a living wage from our legislature, we now expect state representatives to suddenly find millions of dollars to pay for weapons, military/police style training, gun safes in classrooms and as the president recommended, “bonus pay” for serving in active duty?

Okay, let’s magically pretend money is no option and we have teachers ready to serve as part-time police officers. More guns means more danger for students, staff and the police themselves. Let’s show the reasons why:

1) Teachers will now become the first targets of shooters since they will be expected to be the ones who could fight back.

2) Teachers will be ineffective at neutralizing the shooter. Even highly trained police officers only hit their intended targets between 30 and 35 percent of the time, according to analysis by The New York Times.

3) Stray bullets from these misses are likely to injure or kill their own students and colleagues.

4) Teachers with guns will now become the targets of police when they arrive on campus and do not know who the active shooter is in the chaos.

5) Teachers may feel compelled to leave their classrooms where they are keeping children calm and quiet to confront the shooter. These young children are more likely to panic and make noises that makes them an easier target for the shooter.

6) Teachers experiencing personal issues or a mental breakdown now have a weapon more readily at their disposal that can be easily accessed to be used against themselves or their students and colleagues.

Teachers enter this profession to educate children. That is their passion and their skill set. Students feel safe and secure in the presence of a trusted teacher. Often in broken homes and tough neighborhoods, school is the sanctuary that students need against violence. Will they feel as safe knowing guns are in their classrooms? School should not be a prison or a bunker; it needs to be a place students feel they belong. If politicians really want to reduce school violence, fund books and supplies and pay teachers to stay in the profession they love. Let professional law enforcement take care of safety and professional educators teach. FBN

By Coral Evans

Jeff Taylor teaches at Flagstaff High School and is the 2014 Coconino County Teacher of the Year.

Coral Evans is the mayor of the City of Flagstaff.

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