In the wake of the Newtown massacre that left 26 people—including 20 children—dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, seven states have proposed legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns to school.
The concept, renewed by NRA President Wayne LaPierre a week after the shootings, has drawn harsh criticism from teachers unions, gun control advocates and individual educators, who call such proposals irresponsible and dangerous.
On Thursday, Utah teacher Kerri Anderson declined to attend a free, six-hour concealed-weapons training in Salt Lake City, although 200 of her colleagues sat in a sports arena to learn about carrying a gun to school.
Anderson, who described her family as "pro-gun," questioned how she would keep a gun safe in a classroom, and how she could keep it from "a disgruntled student (who) could overpower me and take it," she told Reuters.
Utah and Indiana already have laws that allow teachers or other school staff to take weapons into school.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne on Wednesday proposed allowing any school to train or arm staff, and two Texas legislators proposed bills that would expand existing laws to allow "deputiz(ing) school employees with special training access to firearms as the last line of defense during an attack," The New York Times reports.
On Friday, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel blasted the notion of arming school staff and proposed alternative "common sense" procedures to ensure student safety.
"Guns do not belong in schools, period," Van Roekel said on MSNBC. "I believe this is a complex problem and to suggest there is one solution, and that is to put guns in schools—I think that is the wrong approach. I think there are three things we have to really consider. Number one, we have to put the safety procedures in place at every school in America; number two, we have to look at the mental health services and counseling that are available to students and adults; and number three, we need laws, common sense laws, that get the guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, and anyone who proposes a single simple solution, it won't work."
American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten called LaPierre's proposal "irresponsible and dangerous."
Even in Texas, where the new bills are being introduced, educators are opposing arming teachers. Superintendent Brian T. Woods of Northside Independent School District in San Antonio told the Texas Tribune, he was "disappointed and, in general, critical" of the proposed bills to "deputize" school employees to carry guns into the classroom.
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“The notion of putting a police officer in every school no matter what is a very simplistic answer to a complex issue," he said.
As Robert Parry, editor of Consortium News, wrote recently:
If one follows the “logic” of the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, the United States should become an armed camp with armored-up police carrying high-powered weapons stationed at virtually every location where children might congregate and where a crazy person might show up with a semi-automatic assault rifle.
After all, why stop at protecting schools? A mentally unstable individual could just as easily walk into a shopping mall at Christmas and murder kids waiting to talk to Santa Claus or enter a theater showing a Disney film and open fire on the tiny movie-goers or stroll onto a field where children are playing soccer and empty a 100-round magazine.
If we are to really protect the children as LaPierre suggests, we should have armor-encased SWAT officers at literally every event where there are kids. It clearly wouldn’t do to just have some donut-eating cops with simple sidearms. All they would do is provide initial target practice for a gunman with his Bushmaster AR-15.
LaPierre’s defenders might say that his recommendation only applies to schools, a proposal that would require its own massive reallocation of government resources. But even this gargantuan obligation to defend all schools all the time would not achieve the desired goal of protecting the nation’s children.
That would require a much larger effort, practically a permanent deployment of militarized SWAT teams everywhere at all times. Which, in turn, might convince “liberty-loving” Americans that it’s finally time to put that arsenal in the basement to use for real, fighting against the oppressive state.
In this video from MSNBC, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel debates arming teachers with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council: