In light of the recent shootings in Newtown, CT, the nation is abuzz with discussions regarding gun laws and limitations. But rather than eliminating guns, or restricting gun ownership, Tennessee State Sen. Frank Nicely proposed using more guns by arming school staff. While we are entitled to defend ourselves, a gun in every classroom poses problems.
Let’s put this in perspective. There are seven Shaker schools. If Nicely’s bill passed each school would have at least one armed officer and any employee who was licensed to carry a gun would undergo a training seminar and then be allowed to carry their gun in school as a method of defense.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined the frenzy when he announced Ohio teachers would be trained as first responders. As of Jan. 8, more than 900 Ohio teachers had signed up for free gun training seminars.
According to drc.ohio.gov, the Ohio State Penitentiary is the prison housing the most and highest security prisoners. In the prison there are 375 staff members and 268 armed guards. If all 375 staff members were to carry a gun, there would be 643 guns within the prison walls.
According to director of communications Peggy Caldwell, there are 839 people working for the Shaker schools. If a bill such as Nicely’s were to become law in Ohio, there would be 839 people who could, if they wanted to, carry a gun in our schools. And, as a district, we would we be more armed than a high-security prison. Have we arrived at the point at which we admit that as a society we have so little control over crime that we prepare for it to such an extreme extent?
Students at Shaker steal phones, iPods and even pens and pencils. Students fight. While this is hardly an optimistic look at our school, it is a reality. If we had guns on the premises, those could be stolen as well. A locked drawer isn’t enough to safely hold a gun.
Additionally, when people have access to weapons, there is the issue of mental and emotional stability. While this is not a day-to-day concern, people get angry, upset or generally distraught. We’d like to think that people have more control than to shoot a gun due to emotional stress, but it is important to address the possibility of an accident, and not provide guns than to risk the chance of shooting someone. With so many teachers and so many guns, what is the likelihood that in one of those thousands of classrooms, something horrible could happen? Would this risk be worth it in comparison to the small chance that a school shooting was to occur?
Our security is important, and raising our security standards has become more important due to the slew of school shootings around the country. In Ohio, school districts determine their own gun control policies and whether or not carrying licensed guns is permitted on the school campus. DeWine did not specifically endorse teachers carry guns, but he did state that his office would expand safety training for employees.
Security within our school is extremely important, but putting weapons within our school is not going to secure our school. If anything, it provides additional opportunity for a gun to be fired.
A version of this article appeared in print on 15 January 2013, on page 4 of the Shakerite.