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Editorial: Keep the guns outside of the classrooms

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After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, The National Rifle Association (NRA) decided that the way to prevent another such tragedy was to place more guns in schools.

We agree that all school districts, including the Sequoia Union High School District, should take pragmatic steps to ensure teachers, students, and parents feel safe. However, having guns in teachers’ classrooms not only sends the wrong message to children, but also creates a dangerous and uncomfortable learning environment. We need them to insure our safety through the work of their minds, not the formative force of a gun.

The reality is that no amount of security can prevent every possible tragedy.

Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.,had a secure entrance. Yet police say Adam Lanza forced his way in and killed 20 students and six educators. There was an armed deputy at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 who fired at one of the shooters, but even he could not prevent the killing of 15 people.

In one study done by Geoffrey Jackman for Pediatrics magazine in 2001, 64 boys were in a room with an unloaded .380 caliber pistol were hidden in the room. 48 out of the 64 children found the gun. 30 handled it, and 16 attempted to fire it. The 2010 FBI homicide data indicated that of the 1,448 children who died as a result of gun violence in, 165 of those deaths were at the hands of other children.

The presence of a gun would also change the relationship of teacher and student from one of a learning collaboration to an intimidating imbalance of power. Yes, the teacher/student relationship already is not balanced in the normal classroom, but threat of death is not a part of that relationship. A gun is an intimidating instrument.

Arming teachers would change a teacher’s responsibility in a learning environment. Gun advocates say that one aims a gun only with the intention of killing what it is pointed at. One becomes a teacher because one wants to be a positive influence on young people and loves the subject one teaches. Teachers should not have to be introduced to commando tactics to teach. The presence of guns has the capacity to silence children and cause them to be fearful at school.

The victims were all professionals, surrounded by guns, and trained to handle. So why would anyone think teachers and principals could take a couple of weekend classes and do better than them? Educators and counselors who are armed leaves us to question not only the adequacy of their training, but also what it means that they counsel from a position of imminent force. By giving employees these responsibilities, the school district is also accepting responsibility and potential liability for implementation of such policies.

Training teachers are costly and time consuming. School budgets are tight, some already struggle to keep its class sizes low. Taxpayers are burdened already for necessities, and we cannot afford to spend more money on things that won’t help protect our schools.

Yes, the NRA proposals place guns in the hands of trained adults. But the rules that train and prescribe who holds guns at school will lapse as rules do. A gun will find its way into a teacher’s desk, briefcase, or purse. And a student will get his or her hand on it.

We don’t need more guns in schools. We need more empathy and compassion. We need to make dealing with mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals our main priorities in order to prevent these tragedies in the first place.

I ask you: What kind of people feel the need to have a gun with them at school? I’ll tell you what kind: The kind who probably shouldn’t have one in the first place.

Pro-Gun Activists Rally in Washington State

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Editorial: Keep the guns outside of the classrooms