I am a retired teacher and high school counselor and I am very concerned about the plan by the Florida legislature to allow schools to arm teachers. This is a bad move that is opposed by teachers, law enforcement, parents, and just about everyone except the NRA and the gun lobby. There are so many things that could go wrong with this plan: kids getting ahold of a teacher’s gun, the teacher shooting someone accidentally, the teacher being shot accidentally, and deterioration of the teacher’s ability to teach.
It is this last item that I most worry about since the others are unlikely. Even if students do not know which teacher is armed, the fact that they might be will change how teachers are viewed by students. In particular, students of color will be wary of teachers, just as they are with many law enforcement officers. Teachers will be worried about whether the weapon is visible and less focused on their teaching. And in general, the fact that there are armed teachers will create a more tense environment in the school. One of the most important things a teacher does is create relationships with students. The old saying in education is: “I don’t teach history, I teach students.” Anything that disrupts the relationship teachers have with their students will undermine their ability to teach.
We need to find a different way to provide safety in schools. I believe the best way to avoid future school shootings is to outlaw assault-type weapons and high capacity magazines. But this means fewer guns sold, not more. Perhaps this is the reason arming teachers is supported by the NRA?