After months of deliberation, the Levelland Independent School District school board has approved a proposal to allow teachers to carry concealed handguns on campus.

Kelly Baggett, Levelland ISD superintendent, will handpick the teachers who will work with Concealed Handgun License instructors and ultimately carry firearms in the classroom. The school board decision came in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting and the approval of Senate Bill 1857 in the Texas Legislature, allowing school districts to work with CHL instructors to arm teachers.

With the rash of gun violence on school campuses nationwide in recent years, it makes sense to take precautions to prevent a tragedy such as a school shooting from happening. However, looking at Levelland ISD’s decision, one can’t help but wonder whether it’s the best course of action to prepare for a school shooting.

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the mainstream news media for the past few years, you will have heard at least some form of debate about whether reeling back regulations on firearms will help prevent public gun violence, especially when it comes to an active shooter on a school campus. However, policies introducing more guns to the situation have not and will not solve any of the actual problems presented to the American public by the prospect of dealing with a school shooting.

Take, for example, proponents of legislation that trains and arms teachers in school districts, who often justify such policy with insufficient response times from law enforcement and claim that such action will provide an extra line of defense against a school shooter, increasing campus security. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard such people say something to the effect of “Criminals don’t care that it’s a crime to take a gun into a ‘gun-free zone.’”

There are numerous flaws with such policy. Unless schools that arm teachers also are willing to pay for and write in basic firearm safety education to their curricula, introducing guns to a classroom setting increases the chances that a firearm will end up in the untrained hands of a student.

Even if bringing guns into the classroom makes the few teachers who genuinely want to carry handguns in the classroom feel in some way empowered, it puts additional stress on other teachers and students as a whole and detracts from the open learning environment the public school classroom is supposed to be. Many of my peers in the Texas public education system and I who went through primary and secondary education were taught various methods and reasons to sort out our differences through non-violent means.

While it is a fact of life that not all conflicts can be solved non-violently, introducing guns to a classroom setting directly contradicts that message and is bound to increase the level of gun violence if not in schools, then in public when those students graduate.

Another aspect of arming teachers that its proponents seem to miss is the fact that armed civilians have stopped very few mass shootings. A study conducted by Mother Jones found that in the past 30 years, there have been 62 mass shootings — defined by the FBI as occurring in a public place and having four or more fatalities — of which only two were stopped by armed civilians, and of whom one was gravely injured and the other shot and killed.

In fact, most of the less lethal public shootings that were successfully stopped by armed civilians were done so by off-duty and former police officers who were trained to handle high-stress and dangerous situations. According to Slate.com, an online news magazine, other academic studies on the effectiveness of reeling back gun regulations to prevent mass shootings have proven inconclusive at best.

Simply put, armed civilians are less effective at handling active shooter situations and are actually likely to cause more bloodshed. Many school districts throughout the years have taken precautionary measures against school violence with metal detectors at the doors and increasing the number of campus police forces.

One thing I find interesting about the arguments I hear to train and arm classroom teachers is they often come from the very same people who are quick to cut public education funding. With public education funding shrinking every time budgets are put together, it should be interesting to see where school districts that want to train and arm teachers will get the money to do so and how many of those will be school districts in poorer areas with higher crime rates and actually in need of increased security.

If the American people are worried about public school shootings, maybe it’s time to educate children in public schools about gun safety rather than glorify guns and violence. If not that, then maybe it’s time to increase funding for highly trained public school campus security forces. Either way, putting guns in the hands of classroom teachers should be the last measure taken to ward off the prospect of a school shooting. It will be interesting to see how Levelland ISD’s new school board decision on this issue will pan out in the future.

(3) comments

DarrellJG

I completely agree with your assessment and article of the NON-arming of teachers in our school systems; especially here in the State of Texas where we need to be teaching our students the value of education first, rather than firearm safety. That's on their on time! It is also noted by the recent numbers less than 519,000 residents in the State of Texas have conceal license permits. http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2012/aug/14/rick-scott/florida-no-1-concealed-permits-rick-scott-says/

We have a Statewide population of 25 million residents, according to the United States Census Bureau and to say the majority of the State of Texans and communities support these measures in absurd. What they are doing in Levelland, Texas is NOT the answer. All it is, is another ploy for a conservative right wing agenda to take hold. Bad Idea!

TexasTopCat

There is no down side of haveing armed teachers, especially when groups of students are taken off campus, like band contests. We have all been over exposed to the Sandy Hook shootings. Since the shooter, had to use his rifle to shoot out the glass in the locked front door, there was ample opportunity for the principal (or other office staff) to shoot back if they would have been trained and armed. No student would have been hurt and the event would not have made national news. So, is it a cure all, no. Will it help absolutly.
One observation that almost none of the anti-gun (or pro-crime) groups want to talk about is that all of these shootings happen in No Gun Zones ( or Criminal Free Fire Zones). The fact that there MAY BE an armed teacher that would return fire, will keep many of these criminals/insane shooters out of our schools.
The claim that "armed civilians are less effective at handling active shooter situations" is an insult to the school staff. Teachers, many of which have Masters or higher degrees can be trained to be just as effective as any police officer. In fact, civilians have a better record at not shooting at the wrong person or hitting a different person than the target than the police.

marvinvinn

Although you have a gun permit you must use your gun only in a controlled environment or in extreme situations. For instance, I have a shotgun bought from GG&G Store and I use it rarely. What I want to say is that you must be a responsible in any situations, especially if you are a teacher in a class full of children.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.