We have all walked past the signs in bright blue or red letters declaring a high school a “Gun-free School Zone.” This has always seemed a bit ridiculous to me, like a bank having a “We Have No Security Cameras” sign in the window.
After the Santana High School shooting, everyone has been looking at what we can do to end gun violence in our schools. I am worried we are looking in the wrong direction.
Drew Holland, in his column on March 12 (“Put an end to gun violence in schools,” p. 5) advocated the standard argument for solving school crime: get rid of guns. Mr. Holland suggested that we ban high capacity, high caliber handguns. We have banned guns since the 1930s and people are still dying. This strategy is not working.
The Santana High shooting was committed with an eight-shot, .22 revolver – one of the lowest capacity, lowest caliber handguns on the market. A gun ban would not have saved the two students who died.
Then comes the trigger-lock argument. Trigger locks are useful. I own five. I only have one question. How do you enforce a trigger-lock requirement? You charge the individual after the crime has already happened. This does not stop the crime.
We have tried banning guns. What about other options?
We require teachers to be upstanding, law-abiding citizens. We expect them to pass background checks to ensure they are not felons, pedophiles or others who we would not want around our children. We expect teachers to break up fights, enforce the rules and protect our children. But in the face of the threat of gun violence, we have never considered allowing them the tools to defend themselves and our children.
Allowing teachers to arm themselves allows a greater security than any metal detector, security guard or camera system can provide. We can place educated, intelligent and responsible adults in a position to stop school violence immediately.
This may sound extreme, but it has been tried and proven elsewhere. Israel was able to help combat school terrorism by arming teachers. Concealed-carry permits have lowered crime in every state where they have been enacted. In a recent school shooting in Pearl, Miss., an assistant principle stopped a school shooting using the firearm he had stored in his car. Imagine if he had not needed to run outside to get his gun. Maybe he could have saved the two students who died.
We give police weapons and training to defend our citizens. We should give our teachers weapons and training to defend our children. When we can take down the “Gun-free School Zone” signs and put up signs that read “Teachers May Be Armed,” we will finally see a solution to gun violence in schools. And we will not have to trample on anyone’s civil liberties to do it.
-The writer is a senior majoring in political science.