Should we be allowing trained teachers in public schools to be armed in the event of a mass shooting? The debate continues in districts around the country, but in Illinois, at least for the time being, it’s over. The choice was put to a vote at the Illinois Association of School Boards and the idea of arming teachers was rejected. It was, however, at least a relatively close vote.
A proposal to arm Illinois teachers with guns failed Saturday. Supporters of the move say it could keep students safe from school violence, but opponents say there has to be another way.
“I would never in my life carry a weapon into our school system,” Anthony Vincent Clark, an Oak Park and River Forest teacher, said.
The proposal would give school districts the option to allow highly trained teachers and staff to carry guns into schools.
But, there were nearly as many in favor of the idea of arming teachers or at least in favor of the measure so districts can make the decision themselves. This was especially true for school representatives from downstate and rural districts.
One teacher from Peoria was a bit more pragmatic. He noted that the average response time for police getting to their schools was twenty minutes (which honestly sounds quite a bit on the high side unless it’s a very rural area). His data appeared to back up his statements, however, also pointing out that the average school shooting has lasted for twelve minutes. Even if the police are getting there in ten minutes it’s going to be too late for most of the victims.
And once again, they’re not discussing mandatory arming of teachers. Nobody has to carry a firearm if they are uncomfortable with the idea. But for teachers who complete the appropriate training, what’s the major opposition? Chicago’s homicide rate, while not quite as awful as Baltimore’s is still fairly frightening. All of the educators in that meeting seemed to agree that something has to be done. Some were in favor of more metal detectors in schools and even professional security personnel. Those sound like fine ideas as well, but they’re left facing the question of how they plan to pay for all of that.
The government and the school systems in Illinois need to work together on this. A perfect solution may not be available, so you might have to find ways to harden up the schools as potential targets without breaking the bank. If some of the teachers are willing, you should at least be able to allow a pilot program to see how it works.