For those new to my blog, I am a former public school teacher and currently homeschool with my children. This range of life experiences puts me in an interesting position to evaluate safety and educational concerns within both of these generalized educational models.
I recently noticed a social media post about guns in schools. The post suggested that teachers should, and in some US states do, have the right to carry a firearm on campus and in class. Let me be clear. I am not pro or anti-gun rights. I am raising questions about the safety of this idea.
What if someone with a gun comes on campus?
This could be a criminal or a student who was bullied and now wants revenge or protection. I understand this concern. There was a person who ran through and hid on a campus where I worked years ago. He robbed the local bank and because the campus had a wooded area, he was able to hide there after running through our outdoor area. Would I have been safer behind the locked door with my students or would I have been safer with a firearm in hand while standing at the door as he ran by? Would it be effective to bring a firearm every day to class? How would it be stored? Would I wear it while sitting in circle time? Would firearm safety be part of the curriculum in my kindergarten classroom?
What if a student grabs the firearm off your holster, desk drawer, purse, or bag?
I have worked with many students who are living with emotional or social issues. Their special needs mean they often act in ways others find irrational. Sometimes this includes violence. Would I rather be hit by a chair, if thrown, or shot by a bullet? Good question. After all, some children with emotional special needs fixate on an issue or idea and have a difficult time getting away from this hyper-focusing until they do the action they are envisioning. I have had students in class who planned to kill me. Thankfully they did not have access to obvious weapons, but one child did list exactly how it would be done. If there had been an option for a firearm, that child would have taken it by any means necessary. Yes, even if it meant breaking into a locked drawer, climbing the cabinets and bookshelves, or opening my personal bag. The child was not bad or mean, but rather fixated on the compulsion to follow through at any cost. It is highly likely that the child would have felt terrible afterwards, but due to the compulsion to hyper-focus on harming another, the act would still be carried out if the opportunity was there.
What if a teacher loses patience or overreacts?
Stay with me here. Most teachers and school staff are fabulous people who work hard to teach every day. They do not want to harm anyone. They prefer peaceful options if issues arise. Unfortunately, there are always a few teachers or staff members here or there who have anger issues. They may also be racist or hateful toward those who are considered “different”. What if a teacher loses patience, thinks “I’ll show these kids who is boss”, and whips out a gun? Yes, sometimes teachers bully. No, it is not far-fetched to consider this possibility. There are several former co-workers who I would never work with again (on the same campus) if I knew they had a firearm with them. I would not feel safe after hearing the comments some teachers share around the lunch table.
I am not saying that we should repeal gun ownership rights. Also, I am not convinced that we need firearms in every classroom. I do, however, think gun sense is important. We need to get past this idea that everyone is out to get us and foster a rational decision making process.