There was yet another school shooting last week – this one in Maryland. A school resource officer shot and killed the assailant after two students were gravely wounded. This will further intensify the debate over arming teachers.
President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association argued in the aftermath of the massacre in Parkland, Fla., that enabling teachers to shoot back could save lives and could deter potential shooters from entering a school.
Trump clarified that he believes only those “adept” at using firearms should be armed not all teachers.
Teachers already are carrying concealed guns in a handful of states, including Ohio.
The idea of arming teachers is rooted in the NRA rhetoric that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. However, as America watched video footage from the Parkland shooting, the good guys with guns stayed outside the building while the bad guy was firing away.
According to the Washington Post, since 2000 there have been school shootings in 43 of the 50 states which have left about 250 students, and teachers, dead. Even one student losing his or her life in, or around, a school is a horrific tragedy.
Between 2002 and 2014, 6 percent of all gun-related deaths involving children 17 and under were unintentional or accidental deaths. According to The Journal of Pediatrics. the average number of children killed by gunfire annually is about 1,300. That means in the 13 years between 2002 and 2014 about 1,000 children died as a result of accidental shootings, four times the number of students intentionally killed in school shootings.
Therefore, bringing more guns into schools is not the answer.
Recently, a teacher at a northern California high school accidentally fired his gun inside a classroom, causing minor injuries to three students.
The teacher, a reserve police officer “adept” at firearms, was pointing the gun at the ceiling to make sure it was not loaded when it discharged inside his classroom.
Accidents happen all the time in schools. However, an accident with a gun can be fatal.
In Ohio, a school board can give written permission to a teacher to carry a firearm into a school.
Without written permission even a teacher with a concealed-carry license must leave his weapon in the vehicle, according to Ohio Senate Bill 199, passed in March of last year.
Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca told The Vindicator this month that it is illegal to bring a firearm onto school grounds. An exception to the rule is an armed police officer.
“You go into education because you want to help kids become better citizens,” Colaluca told The Vindicator. “As long as we’re financially capable to provide the protection, we’ll continue to do so.”
There are school boards in Ohio that have authorized teachers to carry weapons but they don’t have to tell parents or the public.
“[S]chool boards do not have to publicize the fact that they’re allowing teachers to arm themselves,” Sara Clark, legal counsel for the Ohio School Boards Association, told the Columbus Dispatch. She said she is unaware of an official list and couldn’t estimate how many of Ohio’s 610 public school districts might allow teachers to carry weapons.
Free teacher training
Since 2013, the nonprofit, pro-gun, Buckeye Firearms Foundation has been offering free firearm training specifically for educators. On its website an essay is posted that provides, “Some kids need chemo. Some need armed protection. The fact that both are “rare” events is of little comfort when yours is the child in need.”
The fact that a child needs chemotherapy is devastating – but other students are not at risk during treatment. More guns in school increases the likelihood of an accident that can lead to a student’s injury or death.
Matthew T. Mangino, a fromer district attorney in Lawrence County, Pa., is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book”The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino