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Editorial: Arming teachers isn't the answer to school shootings. Sane gun policies are.

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The state of Ohio just made it easier for teachers and other school staff to bring loaded weapons into schools, reducing the amount of required training from 700 hours to … 24. What could possibly go wrong?

In the aftermath of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the gun lobby and its congressional water-carriers have been scrambling to make their usual argument that the unequaled proliferation of gun violence in America has no connection to this nation’s unequaled proliferation of easy-to-obtain guns. They argue, surreally, that the problem isn’t too many guns, but not enough of them.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre said a decade ago after 20 small children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. That twisted rationale has become a gun-culture anthem, leading red states to pass laws designed to arm teachers in the classroom. It’s an idea teachers’ unions vehemently oppose, as do most teachers, according to surveys.

There’s no data to indicate such policies have had a deterrent effect on school shootings. Common sense dictates the actual outcomes are likely to range between ineffective and tragic.

Giving a teacher even significant hours of firearms training doesn’t mean that person is suddenly competent to navigate the harrowing life-and-death decisions law enforcement professionals have to make. The likelihood of an armed teacher freezing up — or worse, inadvertently shooting students — seems at least as likely as a Hollywood ending in which the “good guy” cleanly and efficiently blows away the “bad guy.”

The insistence on turning teachers into Rambo is especially ironic given that these are many of the same right-wing politicians who lately have been trying to micromanage what teachers can and cannot discuss in class. As one teachers’ union official said in testimony against Ohio’s new law: “Educators are being told we are not trusted to decide what to teach in the classroom, a job we study for and are licensed to do, but we are trusted to have loaded guns around children with far less training than is required to drive a car.”

There was a good guy with a gun at the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting. He was worthless. There was a good guy with a gun at Buffalo, but his shots were stopped by the gunman’s bulletproof vest, and he was killed by return fire. There were good guys among officers anxious to get inside the Texas school, but they were stopped by a reluctant commanding officer and the confusion of the moment.

These are the messy realities of armed confrontation that don’t fit neatly into the cowboy philosophy behind this push to bring more civilian guns to bear — when the clear solution is fewer guns in the first place.


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