Fighting Fire with Fire

In Parkland, Florida, many individuals in the Stoneman Douglas High School community are still mourning the atrocity that occurred and are fearful of future occurrences. One of President Donald Trump’s proposed solutions for ending mass shootings in the United States—influenced by the NRA’s fear of losing business—was expressed through a tweet saying, “Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.” There are many politicians and citizens who agree with this statement, despite the fact that the ideas he proposes are neither feasible nor sound. The only way to prevent future shootings is not by arming teachers but by eliminating guns completely.

Already since some schools in the United States have started allowing their teachers and staff members to pack heat, there have been incidents that prove the solution to be flawed. In Parkland, Florida, a teacher forgot their gun in one of the school’s restrooms, and both Georgia and California had one of their teachers fire a gun in the classroom. Some people might argue that arming teachers and school staff members increases the safety of students, but Franklin Vice Principal Chris Frazier stated that, “Teachers should be more concerned with helping the students in a case of an emergency.” Instead of arming teachers and requiring them to spend 132 hours training how to handle a dangerous weapon, those hours should be spent with teachers to work on improving their teaching skills to further American education. In addition, Trump’s “inexpensive” solution would actually cost millions of dollars—money that would be better utilized for improving our country’s educational system. While Americans should be able to expect safety in public areas, the United States hasn’t been functioning that way with the increase of mass shootings, and reducing firearm restrictions will only make guns more accessible to those we are trying to protect ourselves against.

In Australia, gun policies ban shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. After the devastating Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 where 35 people were murdered from a rampant shooter, all six states of Australia agreed to these new policies banning guns. Huon Kirkeby (12), a student at Franklin who has family in Australia and who lived there himself for a month during the summer of 2016, said, “There’s less fear there,” and he recounted “feeling totally safe” when exploring the city in Australia. To further ensure the safety of their country, the Australian government had a mandatory ‘buyback’ system, where all the guns made illegal by the new legislation were required to be handed over to the government in exchange for monetary compensation. According to a 2016 study conducted by the University of Sydney and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “no fatal mass shootings occurred” between 1997 to 2016 after Australia implemented new gun reform laws.

Introducing guns to schools is just like fighting fire with fire. There are already too many firearms in public settings and adding more to the mix would just increase the likelihood of shootings. While one teacher who wished to remain anonymous shared that he supports arming teachers because he wants “to protect [his] kids,” and he thinks that being armed would be most effective, Frazier said, “I haven’t seen any research or evidence that shows that it’s useful.” Teachers are pursuing a career in teaching in order to educate children and prepare them for adulthood, not to spend their time learning how to handle guns. The resources that would be spent on training teachers how to handle firearms could be better used to come up with ways to improve the United States educational system. The only way to reduce the number of shootings is to adopt the same system of a country that has actually solved the issue in their country

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