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Armed instructors aren't the answer

Staff Editorial

On February 12, 2013


In light of the recent tragedies in Colorado and Connecticut, gun control and regulation has been forefront in the thoughts of the American people and media. Particularly affecting are the cries for children and students to be better protected.

Unfortunately, violence in the classroom has a long history. According to the Examiner, the first recorded school shooting in America was in July 1764 in Pennsylvania, where a teacher and 10 children were massacred. The pattern of violence has continued throughout the country's history, with shootings throughout the intervening centuries in classrooms and on school grounds.

In 1990, Congress established gun free zones on public school property in the Gun Free School Zones Act.  The law was further amended in 1994 to meet a Supreme Court decision that had struck down previous previsions as unconstitutional.

However, the gun free zones do not prevent criminals from carrying weapons onto college campuses.  Bills have been proposed on the national and state level to arm teachers or allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms.

H.R. 35, the Safe Schools Act of 2013, proposed in the House of Representatives in January 2013, cites the Gun Free School Zones Act as making campuses unsafe against shooters.  It proposes "allowing staff, teachers and administrators to defend the children and themselves."

Similarly in the Iowa legislature, Representative Tom Shaw of the 10th district intends to propose allowing Iowans with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on school campuses.

Currently, Kirkwood Community College's security policy  bans the carrying of weapons of any kind "regardless of the individual having a weapon permit issued by the State of Iowa or by any other state."  The policy extends to faculty as well as students.

While prevention through protection may be one possible solution, the arming of instructors against shooters seems fraught with potential problems. Ensuring the effectiveness of any such law would require  extensive training of instructors and administrators to handle firearms both safely and accurately under extreme and stressful circumstances. Such training would be costly as well as time consuming.  In the climate of already strained budgets, the training and arming of instructors would be at a cost to the educational welfare of the students.

 The logistical implications of armed instructors would also cause potential security problems. The guns would have to be extremely securely stored or carried on the instructors' persons constantly in order to prevent the potential theft of guns. The presence of firearms could also increase tensions in the classroom between instructors and students and discourage open, thoughtful discussion due to fear.

Educators' priorities should not be on the responsibility of handling a firearm but on the intellectual improvement of their students.  Let the teachers teach.

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