Editorial: Armed teachers aren’t the answer

The topic of instituting firearms amongst school staff has become a growing source of debate leading up to the 2022 midterm elections – so much so that it permeated a space of legitimate discourse during the first Michigan gubernatorial debate held on Oct. 13.

As Michigan residents and students, we have a right to share our opinions on this matter because it greatly impacts us. 

The argument suggesting that teachers or school administrators should be armed in order to prevent a violent act from unfolding rarely addresses the fact that these individuals, through their years of educational training, do not expect to and are not prepared to adequately deal with such situations.

Further, training programs proposed across the country for educators to handle such weapons and situations represent woefully inadequate standards.

In Ohio, a law signed by Governor Mike DeWine and implemented on Sept. 12 stipulates that teachers in the state are only required to have 24 hours of training in order to start carrying guns inside of schools, and only eight hours of continued annual training.

Laws like these operate under the assumption that a single day of training is enough to handle a tool meant to kill, in an environment meant to foster benevolent learning.

In Michigan, for any current or prospective member of the state government to suggest introducing the routine presence of guns in our schools is immeasurably concerning.

Teachers shouldn’t have this added weight placed upon them, as it is not an educator’s duty to take someone’s life in the classroom as a means of protection in the absence of professional authorities. Trained police officers are supposed to be able to step in and stop these situations from happening. 

Such a conclusion is one with which the general American consensus agrees.

After the shooting in Uvalde, the educator support non-profit PDK International found in a recent poll that the majority of the public would prefer police aid instead of armed teachers. They found that 45% strongly supported armed teachers whereas 80% strongly supported armed police. The poll found overwhelming support for metal detectors with 78% of the public agreeing. There was also an overwhelming majority that were in favor of mental health screening, at 80%.

However, even then, we can see in recent school shootings that such officials placed in school settings are not an assured deterrent or protective force against school shooters. 

Past instances that have garnered national attention have shown the fallacy behind adding weapons to schools as adequate safety measures.

In one such instance this past May in Uvalde, Texas, footage from inside the school later revealed officers with guns on their person waiting outside the classroom in which schoolchildren were actively losing their lives. Where law enforcement, trained to handle such situations, should have been able to apprehend the shooter rapidly, it took them 77 minutes. With 376 officers on the grounds, according to the Texas Tribune, and still nothing being solved, how can one expect a teacher to be able to step in where these officers cannot?

This is not a matter of partisanship or political affiliation for this editorial board. Rather, this is a matter of conscience, inextricably intertwined with whether the children of this state will live or die – simply for attending school. With these being the ramifications of this conversation and potential policy implementations, the stakes are too high to simplify this incredibly nuanced issue.