Over the past week — after listening sessions with the student survivors of the Parkland shooting and parents who have lost children, as well as state and local leaders — the most repeated solution to the epidemic of gun violence that President Donald Trump has offered is arming some percentage of our school’s teachers.
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to explain his idea: “What I said was to look at the possibility of giving ‘concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience — only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to … immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”
The president has since doubled down on the proposal, saying it could be 10 percent or 40 percent of the teachers in a given school, and suggesting that those teachers who participate could be given a bonus. It’s unclear where funding for those bonuses and training would come from.
Teachers across the country have responded.
#ArmMeWith posts are flooding Twitter and Instagram, as teachers ask for classroom and school resources that have nothing to do with guns: mental health counselors, smaller class sizes, more time, even books and glue.
#Armmewith is a movement by @thesuperheroteacher and @missbertels_ and I invite you to join in! Skip through my pics and post your own (I’ve included a blank template) or go to goo.go/52XggF to print your own out! . . . The Arm Me With movement is to make our leaders aware of what teachers really need in the classroom. As some of you know, I’m a gun owner and I can shoot a gun, but I do not believe guns belong anywhere near a classroom. Teachers have enough burdens and the classroom is an unpredictable place. Also teachers are outnumbered by kids 30:1 oftentimes. Guns are not the solution here, and I think they’d be catastrophic. Please flip through my ideal solutions and feel free to use the blank picture to create your own solution! . . . . . . #armwithme #schoolsafetynow #educatorsagainstgunviolence #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers
When I put out the call for friends and family who are teachers, most of whom live in Texas, Arkansas, and other southern states, for feedback on the president's proposal, I was surprised by the consensus across background and political persuasion. Some of them are gun owners. They have served as high school teachers, special education specialists, and school administrators. Here are a few of the responses:
"In a lockdown situation, my job is to get my students to a safe place, out of view of an intruder. It is not my job to search for and neutralize a threat in the building. I think arming teachers, or 'hardening schools', is a misguided solution that comes with added pressure. I should not have to decide what to include in a lesson plan and when to use deadly force."
"i would not want to be armed HOWEVER i wouldn’t mind if a few of my trusted colleagues were — my retired military AP, for example. Can think of no way to regulate that so, no, i don’t think it’s in any way a potential solution."
"In Oklahoma, an astronomically high percentage of public schools only have the funding to be open for FOUR days a week now because so much money has been slashed from the budget. The teachers I know would NOT want to be required to carry a firearm. There is a hiring crisis for qualified educators as it is — add 'armed guard' to the mix and I honestly fear for the future of our education system."
The president's suggestion has not gone beyond a repeated talking point and the likelihood of any solid proposal offering on the topic seems fairly low. But the response does highlight the massive issues our teachers face on a daily basis.