On February 13, 2018, the United States witnessed one of the worst mass shootings in recent times with 17 students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. being killed. In response to this terrible tragedy, President Donald Trump offered condolences to the families of the victims and introduced a new proposal to keep schools and universities safe. The President put forth a potential bill stating that the top 20% of teachers/school faculty members will have a conceal carry permit allowing them to keep a gun on campus in order to protect their students.
“This would obviously only be for people very adept at handling a gun,” the President said. “It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them, they’d go for special training, and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.”
Although the conceal carry would leave out the majority 80% of teachers, the proposal has been met with controversy by both teachers and staff members from various schools. Here at the University of Redlands, Professor of Political Science, Art Svenson, writes to the Bulldog his thoughts on the President’s plan.
“I don’t trust myself with a gun,” Svenson said. “I don’t trust myself to hold a gun, I don’t trust myself to aim a gun, and I don’t trust myself enough to point a gun at another person. Frankly, I think there are more qualified individuals to carry guns and they’re called police officers.”
Professor Svenson is not alone in criticizing the idea of a conceal carry permit. Professor of Ethics, David Garcia, shares his thoughts on the subject:
“I think it’s a terrible idea. I can’t imagine that the solution to solving the problem of gun violence is to add more guns to the mix,” Garcia said. “What happens when an officer arrives on the scene, looking for a shooter and sees an armed teacher? I imagine, in the heat of the moment, that officer will have to make a split decision and it’s hard to imagine it would be favorable towards that teacher.”
There is much talk of faculty obtaining the ability to carry a weapon at the grade school level as well. Elementary school teacher Lisa Hill at Baldwin Lane in Big Bear, Ca., gives her opinion on the issue as well as adds another suggestion to the conversation:
“I hate guns!” Hill said. “I don’t believe in them on a personal level and they absolutely scare me. To carry this over into the classroom is absolutely ridiculous. I would never want to be armed in what I think is a ‘safe place.’ Accidents happen all the time and bringing a gun into the classroom would increase that chance! I believe that the answer is to have better securities at the front of the school to keep intruders out.”
Scott Waner, fellow teacher at Baldwin Lane and former principal of Big Bear Elementary, is in support of the idea that some staff members should possess a gun after rigorous tests and training.
“I believe the real issues we need to address are more complex than can be resolved by placing more guns on campus or increasing money for mental health care,” said Waner. “Every situation is different. We only claim to know the best option well after the event has unfolded. Even then, as we see after every unfortunate event, multiple people claim to have the best solution for preventing that same, exact situation on the same, exact site with an attacker who has the same exact motive. Even on a campus, at a business or in a mall, the best course of action will be different depending on where you are in relation to the threat, what information you have, and what resources you have immediately at hand.”
Despite gun violence having a relatively low mortality rate when compared to other issues such as health problems like cancer, it leaves a scar among families and cries for change in the air. Whatever the solution may be, President Trump makes clear that “No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.”
Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Halie West.