Advice From the Trenches

Advice from the Trenches: Arming Teachers

gunDear C,

I am as horrified as everyone else about the sheer number of school shootings, and I am so proud of those kids who have stormed the capital and are forcing the president to sit down and discuss the issue. But (and I can’t believe I am saying this), Trump actually seems to have a point with one thing he said: If teachers were armed, it would be a big deterrent to anyone thinking they could just walk in a school and start shooting.

I would really like your thoughts on this.

Jacked Jill


Dear Jill,

I would love to give you my thoughts on this.

On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer: If students are being gunned down by armed intruders, they need more protection, not less. Planting teachers who are trained in firearms would be a big deterrent because instead of simply trying to herd students into safe zones, teachers could take the shooters out. But there are a few issues that haven’t been addressed in this equation – and if you look at them, it just doesn’t add up.

First, do you honestly think that any of the shooters who arm themselves and go into those schools expect to come out alive? They are not thinking like rational people, and the idea that they might get shot is not going to stop them. They have crossed a line somewhere inside of themselves and reached a point of no return. There is no thought of consequences. The idea that teachers might be armed would just be another part of their game strategy.

But, some may argue, even if those gunmen expect to get shot, couldn’t an armed teacher stop them before they killed anyone? Well, maybe – if this was a Hollywood movie and everyone followed the script. But in real life, many other factors would come into play. A sudden, unexpected assault can throw even a trained law enforcement officer into a state of panic. A teacher may know how to shoot at a target, but when fear and adrenaline start pumping, only a seasoned combat veteran is assured of any self control. Training runs, with no real threat involved, are not enough.

Another question: Where is that “protective” gun going to be kept while the teacher is instructing? Will the gun be locked away in a desk drawer so that students can’t get it? Or will your English teacher be packing a Smith and Wesson while waxing poetic on the plays of William Shakespeare? In the first scenario, if the weapon is locked away, can the teacher actually get to it in time when surprised by a sudden intrusion? And in the second, what is to stop students from breaking into the drawer and stealing the gun? Or, if the teacher is packing, what is to prevent students intent on destruction from overpowering the teacher and then using the gun that was intended to protect the school as a weapon against those in it? Just because a teacher is trained in the use of a gun does not mean they know anything about self defense.

Finally, if a gunman knows that teachers may be armed (and it will be no secret) the first thing they are going to do upon entering a school is grab the nearest student and use them as a shield. Apparently, Trump did not consider this.

In closing, I’d like to mention the Port Arthur Massacre, Tasmania, Australia. It was a mass shooting in April 1996 in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded. Australian citizens reacted to the event with outrage and horror; the government listened. Under federal co-ordination, every state and territory of Australia restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles and shotguns and tightened controls on the legal use of guns by recreational shooters. There has not been a single mass shooting in Australia in more than 20 years since.

While I realize that just as logic has no play in the mind of a mass shooter, it also has no weight in the thinking of any NRA supporter. I can only hope that at some point, someone who is in a position to enact intelligent gun control laws will have the courage and conviction to take a stand. The number of gun owners in this country is increasing, and the number of mass shootings is accelerating right along with it. While it is horrifying to turn on the news and see yet another slaughter, it is equally horrifying to realize that our country’s legislators will do nothing of their own volition to stop it.

And those are my thoughts on this.