Currently, the legislation to arm teachers is underway in Michigan. The House Representative from Michigan working on it, Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, has been brainstorming ideas on the topic with a group of other officials and representatives. He is attempting to maintain a balance between the safety of the students, security of the weapon and making sure teachers have access to their weapon. The bill, which is currently in its draft phase, has been extensively researched, with the team looking into many different bills on the issue from all over the country.
The current idea is to allow teachers to arm themselves and keep the weapon in a safe that requires a fingerprint ID in an undisclosed location. Teachers who volunteer to be armed would have to put in eighty hours of volunteer gun training every two years. The whole program would require relatively little to no funding as compared to other projects performed by school districts, such as remodels and equipment upgrades.
I would feel safer in the future knowing a teacher is willing to protect my life by any means necessary. I wouldn’t want to be hiding in the corner in fear knowing that if a shooter gets in, there’s nothing we can do. School Resource Officers (SRO’s, police officers hired to protect schools) work great, but they require large amounts of funding and have been getting cut more and more over the years. Teachers with personal weapons are a cheap and effective way to stop a school shooter.
A comparison I like to make is a home intruder scenario. The intruder has a gun and is trying to kill the homeowner and his children. When unarmed, the home owner can be killed quickly and so can his children. The police will take too long to respond and save them, or will get there just in time, but after the damage is done, the intruder could be anywhere.
In this scenario, the homeowner represents the teacher, the intruder is the shooter, the children represent school children and the police represents the SRO or the police in the event there is no SRO.
If the homeowner was armed, he could stop the intruder before anyone else got hurt, much like what a teacher would be able to do. Why not use their resources in a truly effective fashion?
Currently, KPS has the standard procedure most schools use for shooter scenarios. The School Resource Officer (assuming the school under lockdown has one) is dispatched to find and deal with the shooter while the school is put into a lockdown state. If the school does not have an SRO, the nearest police units are sent to the school. While this does keep students in classrooms relatively safe, it does not deal with the problem of an armed individual going around the school looking for targets. Response time and locating the shooter could take time that usually isn’t available. Having multiple armed teachers assisting could help resolve the situation faster. Teachers currently have the option of attempting to resolve the situation themselves if they feel it is necessary or possible.
Plans like ambushing the shooter if he gets in a classroom or overpowering him with a group of volunteers are just some ideas teachers find viable. This could result in the unnecessary deaths of students and teachers in order to stop a criminal. A teacher with a gun could prevent the deaths of others by being able to quickly dispatch the threat. It would also allow for classroom defense in the event that the shooter enters a classroom.
A large concern for those against arming teachers is safety. Whether it be securing the weapon or fear of guns, there are those who are skeptical. This bill attempts to suppress those fears as best as possible. Any teacher that volunteers would go through a vetting process in order to check their mental health and competence. As previously stated, the guns would be locked away and require a fingerprint to access. It would also require that the weapons are stored in a place that only trusted staff are able to know of. No one but the armed teachers will know where a weapon is, and they will not be able to carry it on their body unless there is a shooter scenario. This ensures that the weapon can’t be stolen by students or other staff and that teachers aren’t allowed to use them to confront insignificant situations. It would be just as normal as before, but the teacher is able to defend students now.
Another concern is the cost on school districts. This bill also makes sure that cost is not a problem. It will require little to no funding from the school districts to arm the teachers. It also won’t require all teachers to participate. If a teacher feels like they can take on the responsibility of defending their students, they will need to provide their own weapon and ammunition. The only part that requires funding is the fingerprint lock boxes, which cost only $100 each and the volunteer hours, which would be compensated for with some form of pay that has yet to be specified. Money from taxes and mileages are a primary strategy for obtaining materials for school districts, and will be the way to help fund whatever needs funding.
I firmly believe this bill is a good idea. It really emphasizes safety and ensures that very few realistic “what if’s?” arise. It’s time we started protecting our children rather than let them fall as victims.