Should teachers be armed?
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July 18th, 2012 (9:44 AM).
In recent years, incidents such as the massacre at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, where students gunned down their classmates, has given rise to the debate over whether teachers in the USA should be allowed to carry arms in the classroom. Supporters claim it means tragic massacres of students could be avoided if teachers could defend themselves against armed fanatics to the same degree. These massacres sparked off a debate about whether teachers are in a position where it is their responsibility to protect their vulnerable charges. And if so what possible ways there are to enable them to do so.
The second amendment of the US constitution maintains that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. This is nearly always taken as meaning all citizens have the right to bear arms, allowing teachers and others in positions of authority over vulnerable groups to be armed would be a natural extension of this entitlement.
The alternative suggestion for preventing such tragic incidents will not be covered much in this debate that there needs to be more restriction of guns. Advocates for gun controls claim that the USA’s love affair with guns is the very reason why incidents such as Columbine happened in the first place, as the problem lies far more in the ease with which volatile groups, such as teenagers and young people, can access guns. If arms laws were made far stricter then it would reduce the risk of on-campus shootings and as a result, remove the need for teachers to protect themselves and their students. As a result of the entrenched arms culture in the USA, power of the gun lobby, and second amendment this debate takes as a starting point that such restrictions are unlikely to happen. Therefore the most logical way to reverse the issues raised by incidents like Columbine is to meet them with equal means, of which allowing teachers to carry arms would be one. On balance, this would mean a greater reduction in the harms inflicted in US society by guns as a whole.
The mechanism for this debate would therefore be a simple one. The only people allowed to carry guns in school environments would be registered teachers and head teachers, who have certified gun licences and who have undertaken special courses in how to carry arms safely in a school environment.
We would allow individual states to decide whether or not to grant schools the authority to carry arms, defined as firearms like handguns, and excluding other weapons such as tasers. Such a law would allow individual high schools to form their own policies on whether or not teachers can carry guns – therefore if individual teachers feel they cannot be in one environment or another, they are free to move schools within that state. Freedom of conscience can therefore be combined with an adherence to the second amendment and a concern for classroom safety in American schools.
How do you feel about this? Could teachers with conceal and carry licenses prevent future Columbines and other deadly shootings? How does the Second Amendment come into play? And if it was law, how do we regulate it?
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