Vail Daily letter: Arming teachers
March 25, 2013
Jim Cameron is upset at my critique of his prior letter about armed protection in schools. More to the point, he goes back over the cost and ineffectiveness of having uniformed security guards in schools. I don’t favor that either, for most schools.
I did suggest arming teachers. Cameron disparaged this idea, saying that a lot of teachers would resist being forced to arm themselves. This is a straw man argument. I haven’t heard of anyone suggesting that teachers be required to participate in such a program. I certainly don’t.
I believe that out of the entire staff of a school, which is everyone – not just teachers – there should be enough who would sign up for evaluation, training and designation as armed guards. They would go about their ordinary activities until a Columbine-type incident came up.
Cameron claims that such volunteers would require substantial hikes in pay to assume this role. I disagree, even though I think they should get some additional compensation for the time they spend acquiring and maintaining their skills. Do teachers get extra pay for learning such protective measures as CPR or fire safety?
An example of the attitude I have in mind is described in a Denver Post story dated Feb. 24, 2010. A mentally unstable man came to the parking lot of Deer Creek Elementary School in Jefferson County. He had a hunting rifle (not an AR-15). He shot two eighth-graders before a teacher on duty hurried over and wrestled the shooter to the ground. This hero was David Benke, a math teacher. Two more teachers and two bus drivers joined in helping subdue the shooter and getting the rifle away from his control.
Since Sandy Hook, there have been news accounts of more teachers signing up for firearms training. Some states have enacted, or at least considered, new laws to facilitate arming school staff.
I have concluded that the weight of evidence and argument favors arming teachers.
And publicizing their presence as a deterrent to those planning mayhem and as a remedy if the deterrence fails.