I am an experienced teacher. I also like to shoot pistols and have real experience with all sorts of firearms. But I don’t think arming me is a way to protect the students I serve.
A 2006 report stated that in Philadelphia, the distance between a shooter and a police officer was under 4 feet. A 2001 report said that police officers, who are clearly more trained and capable than librarians and English teachers, have an accuracy factor just under 50% in a gun fight. And modern hand guns have a trigger pool of between 8 pounds and 10 pounds. Next time you are in the gym, get a 10 lb. kettle bell and pick it up with only your index finger. Ouch! Not easy.
Recently, the radio station I listen to on the way home from school had a story about arming teachers, training them with their weapon and paying them more. More income, free range time? Heck yes, sign me up. If I have a choice of weapon, I like the Glock 9 mm. A 15 shot clip with a good rate of fire, and if necessary, I am prepared to die defending my students the same way I was prepared at 21 to die defending my nation. Duty, honor, country. I am all in.
Unfortunately, In the middle of all of this are our children, caught between a lone armed (and probably trained) gunman with an automatic weapon and our teachers, armed with less capable hand guns and who will not approach the accuracy rate of 50% that is achieved by police officers in a gun fight. These are not good odds. These are not the odds at which I want to bet my child’s life.
We do not need to arm teachers. I almost cannot imagine the beginning of the semester in a grammar school like Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut: “So here are your supplies for the Fall semester. Body Armor in the school colors. Three rolls of paper towels. Lysol cleaning spray, three large boxes of crayons, some dry erase markers and two boxes of ammo for your weapon.”
Have we lost our minds? This is not about gun control. Bad people will always get guns, even if they have to go around the normal approvals. It’s not about turning our schools into armed camps. That may create safety but it does not create a good learning environment. And teachers walking around with weapons is unimaginable. How about this 6 o’clock news clip: “Today at our local school, three teachers armed with pistols and a lone gunman armed with an AR-15 had a gunfight in the school gymnasium.” Is that what we want for our children? Is this how we want to describe our future?
Listen up class. Here is the answer to this important question about how to make our schools safer from gun violence.
Make sure that all schools have only one entry point. Put a camera on that door and on the area outside the door. The video is stored in the cloud and is filmed and accessed 24/7. Have every entry point be double doors, which are essentially a cage of walls and bullet proof glass. You walk in the front door and cannot get in the second door until someone buzzes you in. While in that safe entry room, all visitors are filmed and scanned. Explosive devices, poison powder, guns, bullets, knives. They all get caught right there.
This notion that the “bad guys” will not come in to the school if they know the teachers are armed is totally wrong. Many of these folks have severe mental issues. They often kill themselves when they are done. Having me and other teachers be armed just ups the adrenaline rush. And that would just attract more bad people.
Instead, keep the armed shooters out of the building. In the long run that is cheaper and safer and better for our children.
Mitchell Fillet is a professor of finance and economics at the Rutgers Business School.