Some people think that arming teachers is a good idea, but what stops us from going further? Should we arm our doctors, our shopkeepers, our religious leaders? If you don't want your friendly neighborhood bakery owner or pediatrician with a gun in their side pocket, why should we ever consider arming our school teachers?
The idea of a "good teacher with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun" is honestly one of the worst "solutions" being considered since the Parkland, Fla., school massacre. Bringing guns into the classroom means plenty of new issues schools have to tackle, issues like teacher training; parent and staff consent; legal approval; and the actual buying, maintaining, and safe storage of the guns.
Schools have always been asked to do more with less in educating students, and every year it seems a new issue comes up they are forced to address with limited funding, few resources, and scarce support.
And now we want to introduce yet another problem our overburdened school systems would have to deal with?
- SEE ALSO: Pro / con: Are guns needed in schools? Yes: Armed school staff are first responders to school violence
Virtually every national organization representing educators and parents opposes this idea. If the majority of superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents don't want guns in classrooms, who does? The NRA and gun manufacturers, the people who would benefit from the sales of more guns.
Why are we listening to people with no professional teaching experience? Instead of gun salesmen and enthusiasts, we should listen to teachers who spend years training and analyzing child behaviors, learning successful classroom management, becoming subject-matter experts, and understanding what it takes to be an effective educator. There's a reason Gun Safety 101 isn't a required teacher-training course.
Something that could actually help make schools safer, such as hiring enough school counselors, needs to be done. The middle school I attend in the state of Virginia has 1,800 students and just six counselors. That's 300 students per counselor, an impossible number of kids for one person to help. If something as important as having enough counselors is already underfunded, where is the money to support arming teachers?
But let's say the money to cover every school's list of funding needs is found and that additional dollars are also suddenly available for teachers to get the strong training they must have on how to handle firearms, training that makes them as effective as the most skilled of law enforcement officers. Let's say said guns are locked up in such a way that they are both easy to reach in the event of a shooting and impossible to be handled incorrectly by students. Even if this utopia can be achieved, has any adult in charge of decision-making considered a student's perspective on this?
It seems not. Most adults have overlooked, outright ignored, or not even asked what the students, those most affected by this solution, think. Because we cannot yet vote for the politicians making these decisions, we are told to be quiet and let the adults make the decisions. We are told we are too young, too immature, or not intelligent enough to make sense of these types of matters. We are told to trust in the people in office to do what is right for us.
Recently, I attended a town hall hosted by my congressman about gun control. It addressed a large number of issues, and one of the things that hit me was the amount of children who showed up. These kids, mostly fourth- and fifth-graders, were holding protests at their schools, organizing walk-outs, and speaking out. They were being brave in a society that tells them to be seen and not heard and in a world where children aren't allowed to have opinions until they are "official" adults.
Our status quo dictates that children must respect their elders and not talk back, be calm and just go play. But I am disgusted when I see that children with restricted speech, restricted options and resources, and restricted rights are doing so much more on gun control than the adults around them. The children are angry, and we are done following the rules society set out for us. We have opinions, and we want them to be heard.
I believe I speak for most children when I say: We do not want to live and grow up in an environment where our kindergarten teachers carry handguns.
Ava Michelman is a middle schooler in the state of Virginia. She wrote this originally for InsideSources.com.