In light of the recent bomb threat at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I suddenly recalled the tragic act that took place there on December 14, 2012, and my reaction to President Obama’s speech at the Sandy Hook memorial service. As a teacher during the Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook tragedies, the issue never truly leaves my mind. While careful to respect the parents and families who lost loved ones on that day in Newtown, I felt compelled to share my view on the issue as a life-long educator.
Being born and raised in Newtown, I fondly remember having little league baseball practices and games at Sandy Hook Elementary. To imagine that type of violence so close to home really struck a nerve. As a teacher, I have been entrusted with educating the next generation, and I would protect the students in my school at any cost. I know other teachers would do the same.
President Obama came to my hometown just days after the tragedy. I was immediately taken aback when I heard the words from the president commending the teachers at Sandy Hook for reassuring the children with “wait for the good guys, they’re coming.”
The “good guys” were already there. The teachers are the good guys. We have dedicated our lives to and have taken on the enormous responsibility for the education and well-being of each and every child. It pains me to think that the on-the-scene good guys were left with the only option of waiting, and praying, that the other good guys got there before the shooter made it to their classroom.
As the president said, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law – no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”
I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Where the president, my opponent, and I disagree is how to prevent future massacres. Since the Gun-Free School Zones Acts were enacted in the 1990’s, countless innocent souls have perished at the hands of unspeakable violence. Putting a sign on the door of a school that bans guns will not stop a deranged person intent on causing harm. It tells them that the people inside have few options to defend themselves and their students.
It is time to stop pretending that banning certain types of weapons and other gun control measures will stop these despicable massacres. When someone plans attacks like these, they do not care one bit about what the law says nor are they worried about obtaining firearms legally. If they’re hell-bent on causing harm, they will find a way to do so.
Therefore, I think we should revisit laws that ban faculty from carrying guns on school grounds. The massacres at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, University of California at Santa Barbara, and many others, most likely would have been stopped if responsible faculty members had the choice to go through extensive training and arm themselves. It should be left up to individual school districts and universities to decide if they would allow teachers to be armed. Currently, a teacher has very limited resources to defend a classroom full of students, with little chance of successfully stopping a disturbed person on a rampage.
In defiance of federal law, the State of Utah gives teachers, like Kasey Hansen, the option of arming themselves. On the subject, she aptly stated that, “I want to protect my students. I’m going to stand in front of a bullet for any student that is in my protection and so I want another option to defend us.” It goes to show just how dedicated we teachers are to our students.
In no way am I suggesting that every teacher in the country needs to be armed. However, school districts should have the ability to make the decision to allow interested teachers to go through rigorous, police academy style training in order to carry a weapon in school.
I’ve heard some people worry about students trying to steal the guns from teachers. This is a fallacious argument, as school resource officers already openly carry guns around schools. To my knowledge, there have been no incidents where a student tried to steal a gun off a faculty member.
The many laws passed intended to reduce gun violence have not worked. If a person is intent on causing harm, they will find a way to do so and just disregard the law. We need to approach this issue from a different perspective. At school, teachers are the good guys, and they are the first responders.
Candidate for U.S. Congress
Connecticut’s Third District