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The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

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Life and limb

Arming teachers would have adverse consequences
Illustration by Addyson Leathers

Between 2021-2022 alone 188 school shootings occurred ­— 95 more than the previous record holder, which just so happened to be the 2020-2021 school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. A school shooting is defined as a gun firing on a school campus. While not all of these shootings result in fatalities or injuries, they paint a grim picture of gun violence occurring in American schools every other day.

In addition, “The Washington Post” reports 357,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in schools since 2000. These statistics illustrate that since schools have enough guns on campus to begin with, the reopened discussion on arming teachers in Brevard County is not going to help solve this issue.

In 2018, Florida lawmakers approved the School Guardian Program, allowing schools to hire trained armed guards to bolster security. These armed guards typically have police or military backgrounds, and most are contracted out to companies such as Arc One Protective Services, Florida’s largest school guardian company. These companies ensure quality and extensive training, but they are expensive. According to Zip Recruiter, a typical school guardian’s annual salary can range from $46,300 to $54,200, which is equivalent to that of teachers, who make an average of $54,666 annually. For a district like Brevard with 111 public schools, hiring only one guard per school would cost an additional approximately $5.55 million annually. This is a modest estimate, however, because many larger schools might need more than one guard.

With these stifling costs in mind, the state legislature made it possible for school districts to arm teachers under the same School Guardian Program in 2019 after the Parkland High School shooting. Brevard’s school board began re-exploring the possibility of arming teachers in October. The school board wants to provide more security for schools while doing it as cheaply as possible. Arming teachers has become an attractive solution to both of these problems. However, arming teachers is a dangerous and unfair solution to a serious problem, which, if done wrong, will cost lives.

Before arming teachers, the school district needs to consider that they are asking teachers to put their lives and limbs on the line. Teachers are not soldiers. Teachers are not police. Teachers did not sign up to defend their students and themselves when becoming educators — even if many of them would out of selflessness.

It is better to let teachers focus on teaching and guards focus on guarding. Arming teachers would be like asking senators to bring guns into work because the security at the Capitol Building cannot be guaranteed. If senators were charged with defending against coup attempts, not much effective lawmaking would go on, which is why the senate has armed guards and entire police forces dedicated to defending it. Similarly, if school boards want teachers to be able to teach, they should not also be exceedingly worried about defending their workplace. 

Asking teachers to carry guns also puts a target on their own backs. If a potential shooter does not have a firearm, the easiest way for them to get one 

would be from an armed teacher. In effect, not only are school boards asking teachers to defend the students with their lives but also with guns. Even if the gun is in the hand of an armed guard, it still will be a target for a potential shooter. But someone with extensive training defending a gun will be far more effective than civilian teachers, unless the district is willing to provide training to teachers.

In the event a shooter is able to force a gun away from a teacher, the district has essentially provided the shooter with the weapon. Therefore, the district would be at least partially responsible for any death or injury that occurred due to the weapon. If the school district is going to consider putting more weapons on campus, those weapons need to be in the hands of armed professionals, not teachers who are doing a job that is completely unrelated to defense. 

It is clear that having a few more armed guards on campus will increase security, but arming teachers could have the opposite effect. Not only is arming teachers exceedingly reckless, but it is also completely unfair. When dealing with children’s lives, safety should be an absolute. Arming teachers is anything but absolute. There should be no cut costs on lives or absolutes with school security. Instead, our school board needs to work with state legislatures to acquire more funding to pay for armed guards. If Florida’s politicians do not want to enact gun control policies that remove guns from schools, then they need to provide money to elevate school security.

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