Viewpoint: Arming Teachers Isn’t the Answer

Putting more guns in schools will likely lead to more violence

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

A family walks through a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village center, Dec. 20, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has led to a national conversation about guns, with many arguing that access to these weapons is the problem and others claiming that arming teachers—or in the case of the NRA, putting armed policeman in schools—is the solution. Lawmakers in several states are reportedly drafting bills that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. We are very troubled by these proposals, not just as the parents of school-aged children; one of us grew up in Newtown and is an education policy analyst, and the other studies youth violence prevention. And there is no evidence to support having civilians carry guns in schools and much that suggests such a move is more likely to lead to harm.

(MORE: Sandy Hook Shooting: The Speculation about Adam Lanza Must Stop)

It’s important to keep in mind that while mass shootings are extremely rare, violence impacts the lives of young people every day.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that each day, an average of 13 people between the ages of 10 and 24 are victims of homicide in the U.S., making homicide the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults; it is the leading cause of death among African American youth. Yet very little of this violence occurs on school grounds. Children spend more than a third of their waking hours on campus, but less than 2% of youth homicides occur at school.

One of the reasons why there are so few homicides at school is because these places are largely successful at keeping guns off the premises. Adult supervision and, in very high-risk schools, metal detectors have proven to be effective deterrents. While there are no specific data regarding having armed adults in schools, an analysis of U.S. mortality data found that people with guns in the home are at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide there. There is no reason to think schools would be any different: the more guns there are, the more opportunities there are to use them.

(MORE: The Backlash Against ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’)

If arming teachers isn’t the answer, what can schools do to minimize the risk of violence? Although much work remains to be done, policy experts have begun to gather rigorous evidence that suggests the most effective strategies include improving access to mental health services, reducing access to lethal weapons and developing “early warning” systems that identify young people at risk of committing violent acts.

Within and outside of schools, we need better mental health support as well as threat assessments so that people have somewhere to turn for help when they recognize someone is in trouble and requires help. “Gatekeeper” programs, such as those used in suicide prevention may be valuable models. These programs, including one called Sources of Strength, involve training adults and peers to recognize warning signs. Gatekeepers then provide a link between young people and mental health professionals. There is limited evidence for most gatekeeper approaches, but some have revealed promising data.

(MORE: A Sportsman’s Viewpoint: We Need a Moderate Alternative to the NRA)

But better mental health support is only one piece of the puzzle. To address the underlying causes of violence, researchers have identified a number of effective strategies such as school-based prevention programs that help all students develop their conflict-resolution skills, emotional awareness and self-control; family-based programs designed to improve parenting and solve problems in nonviolent ways, and mentoring programs that pair a young person with an adult who can serve as a positive role model and help guide the young person’s behavior.

Schools are safer when they have a culture that includes supportive teacher-student relationships and clear norms and expectations that violence is not tolerated. Students need to feel that they belong at school and that others care for them. The students most at risk of committing violence are the ones who are most alienated from school and their community. Connecting them to school and services is essential. And to do this effectively, parents and families need to be included.

(MORE: Sandy Hook Shootings: Video Games Blamed, Again)

While we may never completely eliminate violence in schools, research over the past 20 years has shown that we can significantly reduce the risk of violence.  And the more effective we are at addressing the underlying causes and at developing effective early-warning and prevention systems, the less need there will be for policies aimed at minimizing the damage from extreme violence. Sandy Hook broke our hearts. But we need to move forward thoughtfully and use evidence-based findings, rather than heated rhetoric, to support our policy decisions.

77 comments
PeteIsjusttesting
PeteIsjusttesting

When a criminal enters a school with a gun, a gun is needed to defeat him.  Principles and school psychologists lunging at people with weapons is admirable but utterly deviod of effectiveness.  So the school calls in a good gun, carried by a policeman.  Then they wait until he arrives with his good gun, and the gunman continues to kill.  Of course, the gunman knew in advance he would not be immediately challenged because it was a "Defenseless Victom Zone", called by its misnomer a "Gun Free Zone".

So finally the policemane and his good gun show up and the gunman predictable kills himself.  Mission accomplished.

If an armed and trained guard had just been at the school all along the gunma woiuld not have even showed up. 

Also, criminals fo not follow gun laws, so that is why "Defenseless Victim Zone" is what a "Gun Freee Zone" should be called.

WangYipeng
WangYipeng

I'm from China, my English is not too good, but, still, I want to say something:
1)If the mass shootings happened in the White House are extremely rare, so the President don't need the protecion by the Secret Service when he is in the White House?
2) The United States sends bodyguards to protect the President, why can't we sent people armed with guns to protect our child when they are at school?
3)Some people may say: we should do our best to prevent gun shootings, but when gun shootings happen, how can we do to preotect ourselves that we havn't any gun?

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

There should be hard and fast state law that anyone found possessing weapons that can kill massively should not be allowed unless he/she is holding a designation to keep weapons. Therefore, common people who work for influential people should not carry any gun etc. in public, otherwise, lawful strict action can be taken against him/her forthwith.

Surfboat
Surfboat

CO2 powered pellet guns can also be semi-automatic.  The projectiles are not self contained little bombs, as bullets are.  Pellet guns are not lethal but can put an eye out and deliver a world of hurt.  Pellet guns are not firearms.  The ammunition is very cheap and 100 shot repeaters will outshoot a 30 round clip of bullets.  They don't have to look like guns.  They can be made to look like a book or a camera.  The principal and some teachers can handle them without fearing kickback or lethality.   They can be designed for specific handler only use.  They are not a perfect response but better than throwing an eraser at a gunman.  They were outlawed in warfare for their effectiveness.   

I agree it is undesirable to arm teachers; but teachers should be allowed to request  "less than lethal" projectile launching mechanisms for self defense and defense of students.  Two or three teachers can stop dogs and wild people with little fear of severe ricochet damage  to bystanders.


PaulNicholson
PaulNicholson

Armed guards in schools is a backward step and an admission of impotence: any homicidal, gun-wielding nutcase would just go elsewhere. America has serious, underlying social problems which regularly throw up (often seemingly normal) disturbed citizens who have easy access to deadly weapons.

The kind of people who carry out these mass murders are invariably those with a grudge against life in general. Being able to walk into a gunshop to buy a machine gun defies imagination anywhere else in the developed world. Congress should develop a sense of decency and some guts, support Obama and amend the 2nd amendment.

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

Good teachers deserve protection because they our spiritual parents.

msstateme
msstateme

I haven't heard of a highjacking since pilots began to have access to a firearm.  It sounds crazy when you say it for the first time.  In the year 2000 it would have sounded ridiculous if we had said arm pilots.  Now they are armed and it makes a lot of since.  Someone at the school should be armed.  Maybe several people.

Nowhere1111
Nowhere1111

The NRA suggests we arm more people. Kinda like Adam Lanza's mom also did. See what happens then? Her kid killed people. If more were armed someone MIGHT be able to stop them before 26, but there are many more Adam Lanza types out there now too. How do we stop them?

dontn123
dontn123

"On December 17, 2012, Senator Feinstein announced the key provisions of the bill she intends to introduce. The proposed legislation will ban the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of over 100 specific firearms. Also banned will be certain named semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can use a detachable magazine, as well as fixed magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.

The sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of other ammunition feeding devices that can accept more than 10 rounds will also be banned."

http://www.decodedscience.com/new-assault-weapons-ban-no-gun-seizure/22871

You better read it and read it well for more then 100 different guns Many Many Many More then just AR15.....it is hand guns, shot guns, and rifles, so on.... Wake Up


flux8
flux8

Really? Do we really need a one page article to say what's obvious to those of us who are sane and have half a brain? If they don't see the problem with this proposal, is a one page explanation going to change anything?  By taking these topics seriously we are validating the opinions of extremely stupid people. Which would be fine if their opinions weren't going to get more kids killed.

GaryKaufman
GaryKaufman

No one in their right mind would suggest arming teachers as a way to protect and defend the innocents. HOWEVER, utilizing trained professionals well beyond the scope of the sterotypic 'rent a cop' combined with substantive and sophisticated technologies to raise the bar for access is step one. Paying for it is readily resolved with appropriate fees and dare I say taxes on all who purchase firearms, AND setting no holds barred penalities enforced without leeway for those who possess illegal firearms. Then tackle the issues of what types of gun registration processes, and mental health services are to be provided. Protecting the innocents now needs to be the first priority. Unfortunately schools are only one target of opportunity. Recognizably, any mass public gathering becomes equally at risk. But I'm just a simple guy....

BobJan
BobJan

Well, let's see. LaPierre graduated from high school in 1967. I can't seem to find any reference in his bio anywhere of any military service. Usually someone born in 1948 and then being of draft age in 1966 might have had some military service. But, I just can't find any. Usually someone that is so concerned about the constitution should be very very patriotic. Seems that people who served in the military during Vietnam would be considered to be patriotic. But I still am not sure about his patriotism. He went to college which means he got deferments but it seems that someone that is so concerned with freedom and his love of the USA and the constitution would have wanted to go and fight communism in an Asian country. He could have gone onto college after military service. It's just a puzzling thought that someone so "patriotic" just didn't have any military service. In fact his bio lists him as being a government activist and lobbyist ever since he finished college. Then he went on to the NRA. He actually has never had a real job. Seems he's always been involved with government at some level. And we all know what happens when you're involved with government, don't we. Corrupt comes to mind. It just seems that there is something a little fishy about this guy. Maybe he's so concerned with mental health care is because he's in need of some. Bob 1st Cav. Vietnam 67/68.

cobra39
cobra39

It is not a gun but it is still a means of disabling , it keeps the kids safe without having a gun in the classroom and gives the teachers some measure of protection, until the police arrive.

cobra39
cobra39

The best way to arm the teachers is to train and issue them a stun gun with a bullet proof vest for each teacher kept in the classroom

AbdouLahadMbacke
AbdouLahadMbacke

I don't think there is a necessity to create an army or police stations,if we give each individual his own AR-15 to protect himself

EmilyVict0ria
EmilyVict0ria

Arm teachers in the US? It is an option but I feel like it only further creates a culture of violence. Interestingly, I think that the risk of these events can be reduced by the actual structure of the school campus itself and the procedures that you follow. When I lived in South Africa, violence was a far greater problem than in America, abliet in different forms - strikers would often break into schools where I lived and teachers and pupils were sometimes killed. However, the school that I was at, and a few others came up with some simple answers. 

Our school campus was surrounded by a fool - proof fence. The fence did not make it feel like a prison due to a cleverly-appealing design, but it served its purpose. The main entrance was gated with a security guard who sat in a small hut, and anyone wanting to get into the campus during school hours (ie not times when parents were bringing/ fetching kids) had to sign in, state their purpose etc. If they were suspicious, the guard would radio the office to see if they were expected or not. 

The school campus was clever because the actual classrooms were right in the middle of a large campus, meaning that there was significant distance between the entrances and the main buildings - ample time for warning if someone suspicious did get onto the grounds. The main buildings themselves were also cleverly designed. There was a hollow atrium in the middle, where assemblys and concerts were done and two stories of classrooms rose all around the middle area . Every entrance to this block of classes at two ground corners had huge iron gates that they used to lock us securely into the middle - no one could get in through those gates and two stories of classrooms unless they had a bomb.

As well as the structure, procedure (although annoying) is actually very important. Drills. Places to go in situations. Children were also only allowed to be in the middle of the school during breaks (we didn't wander to the edges of the grounds) and there were always people on duty. communication between the guards and the staff and the police is obviously also important. So is communication with parents - our school had other buildings and designated 'safe areas' outside of the campus in the area, which the parents were aware of. So if needed, we could use one of the lesser - known back entrances to our school (also well protected) to reach these places that were off the grounds completely. The school also had a system of chain messaging which meant that parents got the word fast. 

Lastly, you don't want schools to feel like prisons, you don't want kids to grow up in an environment that reminds you of airport security. Our school managed to disguise these features well in good presentation - it was gardens as well as locks and gates, but at least we knew that the measures were there. 

garyallard@rogers.com
garyallard@rogers.com

Forget what Jambougurgess is saying.... he/she is just a refection of the bottom 2% of the population.  They don't mean anything they say because they don't get it.

There are simply just two issues here....   ONE is to dismantel the NRA by having the IRS and FBI investigate this organizations past 3 years as an entity .  Then TWO ... contact YOUR governent representative and demand that ALL military type weapons be abolished.

Sounds simple BUT.... remember ..... you have to ignore dumbass's like jamouburgess!!!!! 



jambouburgess
jambouburgess

I found all the comments below hilarious, crazy and so sad.

But as long as the americans are shooting themselves...i don t see why they should change their outdated constitution.

dlee4
dlee4

I have been in a stuation in which I was attacked and had no means of defense. It is a horrible situation to be in and is a crime for us to require teachers to be in that position. Allow trained armed carry with the teachers asap. The security in the schools should have been effectively increased when these things started years ago. The response was to put up a sign saying gun free zone. How stupid! Just think in the recent shooting if only 50% of the many adults killed had been armed the story would be so different today. The violence will only continue as the crazys move on to other tools if we fail to effectively arm the adults.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

The idea seems to be that we should be armed at all times.  I'm waiting for the cartoon tha shows everyone walking around with assualt rifles.  Mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, washing the car, in a meeting at work etc.   Utopia.

Matt01
Matt01

I teach, and you know what, the last thing I need in my classroom is a weapon. What am I supposed to do, wear it like a cop? Lock it in my desk? The whole concept is just so far out there, it hurts one's head.

doug
doug

NRA comments are really weak!!!!!!!!!   So I guess every time we have a mass shooting we need to add a police officer!!!!!!!!!  Wow what a way to correct a problem.  Just have one of them bury a child or loved one from one of these shootings and their opinion will change.

LarryELindsay
LarryELindsay

Have you people forgotten how respected America and Americans were for nearly 200 years. We were one people, more or less, pulling for the things and ideas that helped everyone, that was willing to work, towards the same goals. A dream of peace, joy, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Citizens owned guns then with few if any mass shootings and yes, beginning around 1915, there were assault rifles made. (you can do the history if you want). What has changed the game is our pathetic lifestyle and morals in this Country. Our liberal views that everyone is entitled to do what they want. These 'over the top' entitlements and rights are far too many to list, but they have destroyed our moral character. For instance, video games that we allow our kids to play that depict murder by gun in the most graphic manner. Some of these kids play these for years and a kid with any mental problems could face a dilemma over what is real and not.I have already read that we cannot ban or control these because of our freedom of expression rights. How is it we can ban sex scenes and naked people doing something completely natural and not ban horror.  This is only part of our problem, but one that must be corrected.

dontn123
dontn123

Does Israel arm their school teachers to protect the kids in their school - class rooms from bad guys ?  YES

The Israeli People must be a lot smarter then we are to protect their most precious resources aka their children. 

Thedude
Thedude

Listening to all the people debating the gun issue is interesting. I love the opponents of guns; they say all options need to be explored to stop such tragedies, yet when someone says arm teachers the same gun opponents scream suggesting however says that is an idiot. Here is a perfect solution: What is wrong with school Marshalls that are plain clothes and armed? WOW what a concept, it works on air planes and other public domains, no planes have been hijacked since. Maybe gun opponents should stop clambering, pull their heads out of their liberal ass instead of creating more liberal suppressedy laws that do absolutely nothing to curb violence. Every one of these knee jerk reactions to impose gun control in the past has done absolutely nothing except propitiates violence by creating a climate that is considered taboo if you own a weapon. Of course mentally ill people and criminals don’t care about a stigma by breaking gun control laws, that is why the mentally ill and criminals walk into schools and theaters shooting people. Good job all you shallow minded gun control advocates, what is next, banning the make and model of the cars that plow through crowds by mentally ill people. Or how about banning knives when these same mentally ill criminals stab school children and couldn’t be stopped because the liberals didn’t want to arm anybody who works at a school.

jareyes.2
jareyes.2

Guns will always exacerbate and escalate any situation.  Only idiots and gun nuts think that arming teachers is the answer.  It is not.  Teachers already have enough to do in the classroom, they do not need to be babysitting a gun so that it won't fall into the hands of a student.  In America, we have a history of relying on guns to solve our problems.  How many men have used guns to kill their ex-wives in divorce court?  How many have killed their girlfriends?  How many have shot their ex-employers and co-workers?  How many have used guns in road rage incidents?  


Unlike the fool from the NRA who believes we should turn schools into armed camps--that is not the answer.  The answer is to beat back the NRA and its platform of paranoia, which has allowed a small section of America, to go into survivalist mode and believe the answer lies with an automatic weapon with its accompanying automatic reloader.  And we also need to deal with judges who believe they have a better understanding of the Second Amendment, which they don't.  I believe our Founding Fathers would be repelled by the idea of people using guns to resolve their problems in this country.  Perhaps, people should again read history books to understand what life was like in 18th century America, when colonists chose to revolt against British rule.  We were not a country, merely a colony of Great Britain,  We did not have a standing armed forces, so we had to fight the British and that is where the idea of forming a militia to fight the war of independence began and the need for militias and muskets came to pass.

Disinterested
Disinterested

Arming teachers is exactly an answer.  Idiot.