The two words that likely create one of the fastest divisions between persons of varying political views are “gun” and “control,” in that respective order. The devastating, destructive wave of public shootings, especially those concentrated in the last two years, has fueled both sides of the debate and ignited in many Americans either a vehement opposition to or strong support of increased firearm laws.
But when it comes to the case of the public schools that have been the site of a disturbing number of young deaths, I stand firmly behind those districts across the U.S. who have developed policies allowing faculty members to carry guns on campus.
Only one of many examples, Argyle ISD in Denton County, Texas was the most recent to rule a specified number of selected teachers and staff would carry weapons school campuses.
The safety provided by having a registered, trained,and psychologically tested (as in the case in Argyle, Texas) faculty member carrying a gun is common sense. When a person is willing to create and execute a plan to shoot and kill, there is no realistic way to stop that threat fast enough other than by using a gun in response. There is no martial art, negotiation technique or blunt-force object that will take down a school shooter quickly and effectively enough to match the advantage of a gunman. That gunman holds in his corner the element of surprise and victim immobilization by the isolation of classroom space.
Security guards are commonplace in many middle and high schools across America—but elementary schools, which totaled out to more than 67,000 schools in 2009-10 according to the National Center for Education Statistics, often rely on the security at the nearby upper-level schools for emergency protection. Budget restraints make hiring an officer for each and every school near impossible.
In the School Improvement Network’s survey of more than 10,000 educators last year, 38.4 percent of superintendents do not feel their schools are safe from gun violence. That’s a substantial enough number that the hesitancy to enact safety measures such as these should not overrule the risks of violence.
Campuses have too often been targets for gun violence at deadly costs to be left defenseless. By creating district policies that carefully select a few undisclosed faculty members to carry guns after completing extensive gun safety and training programs, passing oft-repeated psychological evaluations and receiving scenario-based preparation in event of an on-campus shooter, U.S. schools will have a legitimate deterrent that could stop a shooter from even following through on a plot.
Parents worry about the safety of children when there are guns present, regardless of training or mental evaluation of those teachers who could carry them. These fears are completely warranted—what if a child gets a hold of the gun? What if it falls into even worse hands? And, will the marked presence of firearms in an elementary school make children feel even less safe, as if they must be in imminent danger if their teacher could very well have a gun in the back cabinet?
Fighting violence with violence, overall, should not need to be the answer. There should be stricter gun control laws better regulating registration and carrying to work toward combating violence. But, if guns are outlawed as intended means of protection before the system is correctly streamlined, criminals will still have a plethora of back doors to obtain what they need. It is now a highly unfortunate reality that firearm security in our schools—when wielded correctly—has become a necessity to stop the tragic targeting of our students.
Gough is a junior majoring in journalism and theater.