In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, countless people are calling for change. Douglas students have taken it upon themselves to ensure their voices are heard and lawmakers put their interests at the forefront.
There are varying arguments for what actions need to be taken in order for students to be safe and that events like this never happen again. President Donald Trump voiced the possibility of arming teachers and other school staff by stating he’s willing to pay teachers “a little bit of a bonus” in order to properly arm and train them.
On Wednesday, the Florida House passed legislation that would not only impose new restrictions to firearm sales, but allow some teachers and staff to carry guns in schools. The legislation titled “the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” passed 67-50. The act then went to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the bill into law on Friday.
Following both Trump’s statement and the recent legislation initiative, there has been backlash from both teachers and community members. Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states are considering legislation that would ease restrictions on firearms in schools. However, it is unlikely this will go into effect because of the strong opposition from education groups.
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Flyer News talked to education majors about their future classrooms and their perspective on arming teachers and staff.
Allison Daugherty, senior education major, believes teachers should be able to carry guns on school campuses.
“I am a person who wants to get their CCW (carrying a concealed weapon permit), I have my own gun, I’m planning on taking my classes over the summer,” Daugherty said.
Daugherty student teaches at a high school in Miamisburg and often participates in Active Shooter Response training (ALICE.) During this training, instructors shoot off blank rounds of real guns so teachers know what they sound like if the school ever came across an active shooter situation. She said she did not learn about these situations in her courses at UD, but experienced these lessons during professional development days and workshop sessions where she student teaches.
Although she’s passionate about teachers being given this option, she admits she sees both sides of the argument because she’s still unsure if she would bring her gun to school. Daughery stresses the importance of background checks and psychological screenings before someone applies to get their CCW.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where teachers end up being the ones to shoot students,” Daugherty said.
“I can’t even imagine shooting a student, but if it was to save someone else or multiple lives, it would be worth it. I’m not saying shooting to kill, but shooting to injure in attempt to control the situation.”
“I don’t feel comfortable with myself or another teacher having a gun,” said senior intervention specialist major Marykate Purcell.
“Having a gun in the classroom creates the possibility of an accident to happen. The answer to school shootings is not with more guns. It does not make the school safer.”
Purcell suggested that schools should implement more security measures through additional metal detectors and police officers.
Junior early childhood education major Sara Graves agreed with Purcell’s comments and offered additional insight.
“It frightens me to think about a gunman in a classroom where a teacher is armed because it adds confusion to the police when determining who the real shooter is,” Graves said.
Instead of arming teachers, Graves suggests teachers have a unique opportunity to promote mental health and see the problem before it happens. It is the teacher’s job to support their students and make them feel safe.
“I can make a student feel safe every day, but not when there is a shooter in the school,” Graves said.
In past school shootings, there have been heroic stories of teachers stepping up to protect their students. Most teachers do not indicate they felt pressured by the administration to take a bullet for their students if the situation presented itself.
“Teachers typically take on the role of their students being their own,” said Marissa Boyle, a junior childhood education major.
“It’s not in my job description to take a bullet to shield a student, but I would anyway because it’s a child. I think I would instinctively shield them.”
Several UD education majors have argued that the question shouldn’t be the extent to which they are expected to protect their students, but instead it should be how to prevent the situation from happening in the first place.