"Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.” A number originated from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group co-founded by Michael Bloomberg that works to prevent gun violence. In the aftermath of a massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida, President Donald Trump has suggested he will consider a proposal to arm school teachers in an attempt to prevent another school tragedy from happening.
People have flooded social media with thoughts about school shootings and gun control, including the teachers in our community. We asked two educators to voice their opinions on school gun violence and how they would feel about arming teachers to combat school shootings.
Stephanie Crane, educator in Florida
“I work with kids ages 10-18 as a teacher and coach, so it saddens me that school shootings have become a regular topic of conversation. What I hope to instill in my students is to treat others the way they want to be treated and to think about the consequences of their actions and how it can affect people. The idea of telling a child that I'm going to carry a gun because others may bring a gun to school is like saying, “I hit him because he hit me,” which is the exact opposite of what I request of my students. We tell them to take the high road and find a better way to deal with situations… and yet, here we are, unable to find a “high road” as adults.
There are many people in America so focused on what they'll lose if gun laws become more strict, but what they would lose is NOTHING compared to what students, parents and teachers have already lost because of the lack of gun control. There's discussion about raising the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon, but it seems like common sense to me that these guns should not be available for ANYONE to purchase.
In countries where guns are banned they don’t have hundreds of school shootings, but in America we’ve had nearly 20 in less than two months. No parent should have to drop their child off at school and hope they don’t get shot. Period. And as much as I love my job and have never wanted to do anything else, I would quit before carrying a weapon around my students. If I had to carry a gun while I taught, I would essentially be a walking billboard advertising the fact that devastating violence could occur in front of them at the hands of their own teacher.
Most teachers go into this profession because they care about kids and want to instill kindness and compassion. That is not the mindset of someone who would be willing to take someone’s life, and severely undermines the safe environment that educators are trying to provide for their students above all else. All I can do is hope that enough Americans understand this so that we can incite change. I am so proud of the Parkland students for speaking out on this issue. I think that hearing this concern from students, instead of adults, is monumental in creating a revolution. I don’t know how the gun control issue will play out, but I believe that all students have the ability - and now the motivation - to create the change we need for a safer future.”
Stacey Willins, educator in Canada
“Hearing about violence occurring in any school weighs heavy on my heart. As a teacher, my life’s goal is inspiring children to be brave and take chances, to be creative and push boundaries, to grow and achieve in whichever way their unique minds can. And that can only happen when my students feel safe and confident.
I feel that arming teachers with guns would only hinder learning and ambition that occurs in the classroom, reminding students that they are not safe. As much as I want to protect my students as if they are my own, using violence to prevent violence is what I call an oxymoron. I also personally feel that I’d rather be shot, rather than take someone else’s life and having to live with the emotional impact.
I grew up in a Canadian education system and going to school never frightened me. It’s hard for me to comprehend what’s happening in American schools – talk of weapons, massacres and death. In our school system we use language like smart boards, special guests and future dreams – and that’s because of gun control.
However, it seems that America is on the verge of big changes. I think the young, inspiring teenagers in Florida are eager to take the control back by advocating for safer schools. They're confident to speak up, brave and motivated by some brilliant teachers and parents who've helped empower them to create the change they want to see.”