Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

NPR
Simon Says

It's Hard To Imagine How Armed Teachers Might Change Schools

588404195_1292604320.jpg

President Donald Trump leaves the stage after addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. He has repeatedly called for arming teachers after the school shooting in Florida.
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

President Donald Trump leaves the stage after addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. He has repeatedly called for arming teachers after the school shooting in Florida.

What would our schools really be like if teachers carried guns in their classrooms? If, as President Trump first suggested at this week's White House meeting with families who have suffered school shootings, 20 percent of teachers were armed?

He repeated the idea in tweets the next day, saying "20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to ... immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions ... Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A 'gun free' school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!"

Some people at the meeting seemed to approve of the president's idea; many did not. The president repeated his message to acclaim before the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday.

In the world beyond the Oval Office, Dr. David Hemenway at the Harvard School of Public Health, an expert on gun violence, calls the president's idea, "a crazy proposal," according to NBC News. And many teachers took to social media to say they're infuriated by the idea.

But 42 percent of Americans told a Washington Post-ABC News poll they believe gun-bearing teachers could have deterred last week's school shootings in Parkland, Fla.

Support comes from

I've tried to imagine how pistol-packing teachers might change the nature of a school, and the relationship between students and teachers. Will students now advise each other, "Don't get caught text messaging in physics class! That teacher is locked and loaded!" Will principals who hire new teachers now say, "Well, his college recommendations aren't strong. But he's won marksmanship medals." And will teachers now tap a bulge under their coats and admonish students, "OK, class, do I have to remind you what happens if I don't get those essays on Gwendolyn Brooks by Friday?"

The valor and devotion of American teachers is beyond doubt. In one school shooting after another, teachers and staff have risked and even given their lives to protect their students, including Scott Beigel, a geography teacher, Aaron Feis, a football coach, and Chris Hixon, an athletic director, just last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

But would strapping guns on teachers make them educators, or armed guards? What happens if and when a teacher's gun is left unlocked, or is stolen, or gets wrestled away from a teacher by a disturbed student? Would giving guns to teachers make students feel safer — or even more on-guard, when they should be open to learning? Isn't it already hard enough for teachers to teach?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.