I am a teaching candidate at our local university. I am in my year of field experience--not quite a student teacher, not quite a student who sits in the classroom all day and observes. I have this year of school left before I am placed in an elementary classroom and put in charge of educating, caring for, loving and keeping your children safe for eight hours per day, everyday. I understand that, upon graduation, I will have the responsibility of creating future generations of productive, competent citizens who will make meaningful and lasting contributions to the society they live in...and the society that most of us will grow old in. My day will not begin when I get to school, as it never truly ends--even when I go home the previous day. To truly make an impact on your children I will not stop thinking about them when I send them home. I will continue to plan, investigate, research, learn and seek out answers to concerns that pop up everyday while they're in my care. A teacher's job never really ends. In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, as well as a dozen other active shooting events around the country and a mass casualty situation in China, many teachers are now faced with an internal dilemma; one that questions our personal belief system down to the core. Should we, as educators, be permitted to carry guns in the classroom. At the very least, should we be allowed to have a gun safe with a loaded handgun in it, in our classroom?
I believe that yes, we should.
The best case scenario puts armed police officers on the scene of an active shooter in a building in about three minutes. In the first three minutes of our country's most recent tragedy, several people were already dead and several more were wounded. The school's principal went into the hallway, unarmed, to get a better view of what she thought were gunshots. Unfortunately, she didn't return to her office. What if she would've been armed? Statistics from federal, state and local police agencies have proven that once an active shooter meets resistance from an armed individual they either a) are slowed down due to use of force by the other party or b) kill themselves. The principal, a teacher in a classroom, the school counselor/psychologist or secretary could've potentially stopped this tragedy shortly after it began had they been armed and prepared.
Before you jump all over me, please understand I am not saying that guns in schools are the only way to keep children safe. I am also not saying that a gun carrying staff member in every school will prevent these tragedies from happening. I do not feel that teachers should be mandated to carry, nor do I feel that we should pay an armed security guard to stand outside every door of every school in America. I am not an extremist who believes this is the only answer. I am a future teacher who doesn't want to be a 'sitting duck' waiting for the next lunatic to turn a building that I might be in, with your children into the O.K. Corral. I want the opportunity to be proactive instead of being forced to be reactive to the shooter because too many people in our country are afraid of giving the good guys a little bit of power.
I read an article last night while I was writing this post, as I was looking for answers to law enforcement response time and statistics in active shooting events across the web. The author makes a very valid point when he talks about banning certain types of guns (or guns altogether). The bad guys will get guns regardless of their legality or availability in our country. Adding a "No Weapons Permitted" or "Gun Free Zone" sign to the front of a building is similar to storing your most valuable asset, most prized possession on your front lawn for the world to see and walk away with. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect our homes, jewelry, vehicles, finances and personal information from the bad guys, yet we refuse to allow our schools to be protected by the people who know them best. You trust me with your child's education, molding your child's brain, sculpting their future and giving them the tools to succeed in that future. I will spend more time with your children than you do for 180 days every year, I will care about your children like they are my own, I will celebrate with them, I will get frustrated alongside them and I will give them every ounce of dedication and knowledge I possess. I will take a bullet for your children, just like so many of my colleagues. I don't want to be forced into that decision though....and by allowing teachers to be trained to carry a gun, and allowing that gun to be in a school building, I might not have to.