Are schools safe? Or can we do more to ensure the safety of the students, teachers and staff that work in them?
While opinions vary on what should be done, one discussion has some people asking if teachers can play a bigger role–more than just being educators.
That discussion? Should teachers have guns on high school, middle school and elementary school campuses?
It is a debate that has waged on across the nation for years. Some groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America strongly oppose teachers carrying guns on campus.
“Teachers are there to teach our kids. They shouldn’t have to feel like they are trained sharpshooters,” said Carol Buckley-Frazier, spokesperson for Moms Demand Action.
Some though welcome the idea, like John Harris who is the executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.
“It doesn’t make them law enforcement, it doesn’t impose on them a duty to go out and be the first responder,” said Harris.
In Tennessee, like many other states, school safety has been a major talking point with Governor Bill Haslam even setting aside funding to make schools safer, but opinions on what exactly should be done vary.
Harris doesn’t believe teachers who don’t want to carry should be forced to, but instead only those who are trained and willing. For Harris and the Tennessee Firearms Association, allowing teachers to carry could save lives.
“Armed administrators, armed faculty would have the ability to resist if it happened whereas otherwise, they are just victims trying to avoid getting shot,” said Harris.
Buckley-Frazier with Moms Demand Action says there are a number of reasons why schools should not allow teachers to carry guns. She said there are liability issues, as well as funding issues, but other issues arise as well.
“We believe the solution is not more guns in schools, but it is lowering the risk of people being confronted by gun violence, but especially in such a sensitive area,” said Buckley Frazier.
At the moment, school resource officers remain a priority and when it comes to arming teachers, Candice McQueen, Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education, said the majority of teachers are against the idea.
“I heard from many teachers that indicated that this would not be something that would be their role,” said McQueen. “They have so many other things they are taking care of during the day and the complexity of taking on that role.”
In April, some lawmakers drafted HB 2208. The bill would have given school boards and school directors the power to adopt a policy allowing select school staff to carry concealed firearms on school property. The bill did not pass legislation, but Governor Bill Haslam said we could see similar legislation in the future.
“Obviously the legislation to do that didn’t pass this year,” said Governor Haslam. “I think you are right. It will come back up next legislative session. I think the vast majority of teachers will tell you that is not what they want to do and that is not the reason why they are teaching. I personally don’t believe that that is the answer around school safety it is more around the physical improvements increasing the number of SRO’s and taking that approach.”
Moms Demand Action said they are not against the Second Amendment, but they don’t believe guns should be in a place where students and teachers are learning and teaching.
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