As students lead the nation in fighting for stricter gun control legislation, teachers across the country are speaking out against an alternative measure President Donald Trump has suggested to prevent school shootings like the one that took place last week in Parkland, Florida: arming teachers and training them to use firearms.
With the #ArmMeWith social media campaign, educators are calling for the government to provide them with school supplies, books, and other resources instead of spending an estimated $1 billion to train teachers to act as armed guards—while also being responsible for educating the nation's children.
#ArmMeWith fair pay, an abundance of resources, excellent insurance, mental health treatment for TEACHERS, compassion from administration, less testing, more free will to teach my students to be GOOD HUMANS.
— Kay Kinsey. (@_kaykinsey) February 21, 2018
#armmewith books that help develop empathy and reduce the stigma of mental health struggles.
— Stephanie tanner (@tannertheteach) February 18, 2018
#ArmMeWith support, so that I can educate ALL of my students, no matter their level, and help them achieve their goals. Do NOT arm me with a gun. I need SUPPORT from society, our community, & our politicians to help every child achieve goals. Guns have no place in education. pic.twitter.com/tv0QtS8x9Y
— Megan Glidden (@msgliddenves) February 21, 2018
Teachers, we must as a nation and profession, refuse to be armed. This is not a professional development that we are willing to participate in. #ArmMeWith ample funding and small class sizes, counselors and trauma therapists, behavior interventionists, healthy foods! #IRefuseGuns pic.twitter.com/aeRUFWbEzm
— Susan DuFresne (@GetUpStandUp2) February 22, 2018
#ArmMeWith enough counselors for the students. Enough afterschool programs to help children. Enough funding so we do not run out of paper in January.
— Linda Witte (@DoubleU09) February 22, 2018
The president has proposed arming 20 percent of teachers—about 700,000 people. When asked about the practicality and wisdom of the plan on Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters, "When you have a horrific situation like you had last week and other school shootings we've seen, these horrible tragedies, what we think and don't think is practical can change."
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) pushed back against the notion that the onus to protect students' lives should be on their teachers, rather than on legislators, who many Americans believe should pass legislation that would prevent school shootings.
"Anyone who suggests this has no real understanding of what goes on in schools, or worse doesn't care, and is more focused on the needs of gun manufacturers and the NRA than of children," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teacher, told Politico.
"You're asking the teacher to have the presence of mind to not only do what her instincts compel her to do, but then find her loaded handgun and get in position… and be a good enough shot—in the middle of all of this—so that she can be the marksperson who then maims or kills the intruder with the rifle," Weingarten continued. "That may work on a movie, but in real life that is not a situation that most people will—even those who have been trained—will be able to do."
The Violence Policy Center noted that supplying teachers with weapons would likely do little to prevent the loss of life during a shooting—as guns are rarely able to stop a crime that's already underway.
"Highly trained police officers, whose only job is law enforcement, all too often fail to use firearms successfully," said the group in a statement. "Trained law enforcement officials have only an average 20 percent hit ratio in armed confrontations, meaning that only 20 percent of shots fired hit the intended target."
Trump critics on social media also spoke out against the proposal.
we live in an america where universal health care is some unicorn but arming teachers is regarded as a policy proposal.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 22, 2018
A problem with arming teachers: Teacher shows up to school for work, gets out of the car with his gun. Teacher is named Philando, Tamir, or something like that. A "Good Samaritan" passerby sees the gun, calls cops. SWAT Team arrives, kills teacher. (Epilogue: NRA says nothing.)
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) February 22, 2018
This whole arming teachers more guns not less conversation is so f*cking transparent. #Trump spoke to the NRA, and this is what they’re pushing. More guns = more profits. It’s irrational and idiotic. Throwing gas on a fire is not how you put out a fire.
— JackiSchechner (@JackiSchechner) February 22, 2018