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Our Opinion: Arming teachers could cause more problems than solutions

Our Opinion: Arming teachers could cause more problems than solutions

March 1st, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

After the most recent school shooting, Iberia's public schools — as well as other schools throughout the nation — are considering arming teachers.

While well-intended, we don't believe it's a viable solution.

A few generations ago, school safety meant not playing tackle football on the blacktop. Now, protecting our students from mass shootings is a top national priority. It's a sad commentary on how things have changed in our nation.

Different approaches have polarized our nation, especially with the gun-control debate.

President Trump suggested arming teachers would be a deterrent: "They have to know, they walk in, they're going to probably end up dead."

In last Thursday's paper, we reported the Iberia R-5 Board of Education is seeking public input on the idea of allowing staff and teachers to become certified to carry weapons in school. That would include guns, tasers, mace and pepper spray.

The school district did an online survey to seek input from residents in the district. The final results haven't been announced, but initial results favor arming teachers. In a separate survey, most teachers said they would not be good choices to be a school protection officer (SPO).

Superintendent Lyndel Whittle said the school board hopes to make a decision at its March meeting. "It's not an easy decision, and we want to think it through before we act," he said.

While we have faith in teachers' abilities to multitask — their jobs demand they do it constantly — we don't believe protecting the schools with guns should be among those tasks.

While we like the idea of having an instant response to a horrendous event such as a school shooting, there are too many potential downsides to the idea. Among them:

Students intent on doing harm likely would know, or could find out, who in their schools are SPOs. They could be targeted first.

If more than one teacher is armed, more than one teacher could be shooting in a classroom or hallway at the same time, potentially leaving more students in the crossfire. Arming more teachers could do more harm than good.

Heated situations between students and teachers could result in gun violence that otherwise would not occur. It's not just teachers who could use a gun during an escalating situation. A student could take a weapon from teachers and use it against them.

Liability insurance presumably would skyrocket for public schools, with taxpayers picking up the tab. It could result in schools having less money for their primary function — teaching.

For law enforcement officers, their primary job is to enforce the law and, if needed, use a lethal weapon.

Cops have their hands full enforcing the law, just as teachers have their hands full teaching. Crossing the two roles would not be an ideal situation, and could cause more harm than good.