March President’s Corner
March 5, 2018
Roger Smith

Should We Arm Teachers with Guns – Most Say No

I have two granddaughters age five and one that go off to pre school and day care each day. The five-year-old will start kindergarten in public school this August. These darling little girls, just like the darling children at Townville Elementary, Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the several other sites of mass shooting in our schools have no concept of someone entering their school to murder them.

I have given much time to thoughtful consideration of how to protect these little girls and all their classmates across the U.S. Just thinking that our children in schools practice mass shooting drills sends cold chills down my spine. Yet this is the reality that our children, parents, teachers, staff and all of us face each day.

Every time there is a mass shooting, the same scenario plays out. There are calls for greater controls on gun purchases, expanding back ground checks, arming teachers, more emphasis on mental health recognition and treatment, the revival of the second amendment debate, and the NRA taking what most see as extreme positions and making political threats to our politicians.

Then nothing gets done to help save the lives of our children.

Just think, a teenager must apply for a learning permit, practice and complete and pass a driving test to obtain a driver’s license. Yet any eighteen-year-old can buy an assault rifle without any type of practice, training, or testing. In many states, one must take a hunting safety course and pass the test to get a hunting license, yet none of this is required to buy an assault rifle. To me, this does not make sense.

There are some common-sense things that should be done right away. All schools should have a single point of entry and this entry should only allow those with legitimate business to enter the school. We should invest in our children’s lives by providing the funding to place School Resource Officers in every school. Background checks should be enhanced and the waiting period to purchase a gun should be extended. There needs to be greater emphasis placed on emotional and mental health issues.

Arming teachers does not make good common sense. SLED Chief Mark Keel thinks this is a bad idea and has said he does not know anyone in law enforcement who supports arming teachers. Chief Keel has pointed out it would take extensive and continuing training and that teachers would also have to overcome serious psychological barriers to confront and shoot an intruder. Sheriff Leon Lott, Richland County has said, it takes a lot of training and practice for police officers to face situations where they are being fired upon and yet police officers still make mistakes in these situations.

Considering all of this, it seems very clear as to why arming teachers is not a promising idea. The cost according to some reports is around $60 million dollars to implement. This cost would go down once enough SROs are hired and trained.

So, based on the history of the SC General Assembly we probably will not take the most prudent steps to save our children. Most likely, the Legislature and our politicians will go about the state blowing flammable rhetoric to rile and divide us on nonsensical proposals like giving teachers guns to carry in schools. So, what’s next giving guns to the ticket booth workers and ushers in movie theaters, or the clerks in the malls, or the workers at concerts, or …

We all need to demand the training and hiring of SROs for every school as well as other reasonable common-sense action to help prevent more of our children from being murdered.