… because of this: Some of my best friends are teachers, including my wife. Overall, teachers are the best people. When I imagine a trained armed force larger than the United States Marine Corps, made up of 100% teachers, teachers ready to put things right, I get all giddy.
Trump has suggested that maybe 10%, maybe 50%, of the teacher workforce be armed, and presumably trained. You’ve already read a lot about how bone headed this idea is, and how a teacher with a gun in a school, even with training, is highly likely to accidentally shoot a student who doesn’t happen to be a spree killer, by accident.
I would add that having so many armed and trained teachers would lead to deadly conflicts that have nothing to do with school shooting attacks. Why, just the other day there was a conflict in a nearby high school where some students got all crappy with each other. The teachers had to intervene, it got tense, and eventually de-escalated. The situation got hot enough that a note went around to the school community so everyone would have an idea of what happened, rather than learning an incorrect story via the rumor mill.
Had these students been citizens on the street, and a cop was present, the cop may well have pulled out a firearm, and upped the stakes. In a certain percentage of cases, that upping of stakes can lead to further escalation. Pretty soon, somebody reaches for their cell phone, the trained and armed cop thinks they are going for a weapon, and BANG, dead citizen. Or, the trained and armed teacher thinks they are going for a weapon, and BANG, dead kid.
Imagine that. The teacher goes out to do hallway monitoring, and comes back with, “well, I killed one of them.” Not good.
Also, just the other day, an actual armed teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg at school. You see, in some Yahooistic communities like Utah, the armed teacher idea has already been floated, and a small number of them are armed. And what you get is accidental shootings.
(Also, all the students are going to know which teachers have the guns. A school shooter, who is already a student in the school, merely needs to approach that teacher with some home work related question, pull out the gun, and BANG, dead teacher.)
So, I think it is pretty clear that if you arm a lot of teachers there will be a lot of trouble. But I don’t think people necessarily know the magnitude of the problem.
Consider the following facts.
There are about 3,300,000 teachers in the US.
If they are armed as Trump suggests, that would amount to between 330,000 and 1,650,000 armed teachers.
If each teacher gets one high quality hand gun and a week of training, this will cost between one half of a billion dollars and three billion dollars out of the gate, and a regular ongoing commitment thereafter.
A force of teachers this large would be greater in size than the United States Marine Corps, by a large margin. There are about 188,000 marines.
If armed teachers ended up killing students at the same rate that armed police officers did, simply because they are the armed enforcers in a community that includes some trouble makers, they would kill about 1,650 students per year at a rate of 50% armed teachers, and about 330 per year at the 10% rate. There is of course no way to be sure of the correspondence between cops killing citizens (for whatever reason) and teachers potentially killing students, but when I sit there and think about it, I realize that there is a wide range of perfectly plausible estimates, ranging from just under a few dozen to several thousands. Remember, the million or so cops that exist are, minute to minute, hardly ever in contact with the general public, or at least, by several tens of meters, while teachers and students are constantly interacting. The entire milliu is different. I would imagine that if half the teachers were armed … oh hell, we might as well run an experiment. Start with bus drivers. Give 10,000 school bus drivers each a Glock in a quick draw holster. for one year. See how that goes.
Anyway, I think you see the point. Just the accident rate alone could make enough carnage to come close to the existing rate of in school spree shootings, without decreasing the number of school shootings. Individual school shootings would be somewhat offset by the fact that a teacher gets to plug the shooter, but this may be offset the other way when savvy school shooters cap the armed teachers at the beginning of the event, and maybe even take their guns. And, the possibility is not small that an entire other kind of armed confrontation, whereby teachers simply start using their guns doing the work of effective hallway monitoring, could cause more carnage than is saved by any effort to scare off potential spree killers.
So, now that I think about it, here is my position on Trump’s proposal. Yes, arm the teachers. But no, they should not bring their guns to schools. They should keep their powder dry, in case things get much worse.