I am an elementary school teacher. This is why you don’t want me to be armed.
I have come to the point where I can no longer watch the videos of the most recent terrorist attack in a school setting. I can’t watch anymore because every day I return to the most targeted public venue for violence – my job. According to Everytown and based on a five-year data compilation from the Center for Disease Control, seven children aged 19 or younger are killed every day as a result of firearms. Seven. That’s 25% of my homeroom.
I am highly trained in what I do. I have obtained four degrees over a twenty-year span and am certificated to educate children in preschool through high school settings and have worked in diverse demographics in terms of language, culture, and socioeconomic status. My chosen profession is that of leading children on a journey to love learning and attain skills and habits that will allow them to be positive, contributing members of our society. I do this through setting up a respectful, challenging, kind, and safe environment. I do this because it is what I love. I do this because it is my calling.
In a statement made yesterday in front of an audience of parents and students, our President suggested that up to twenty percent of teachers become trained to carry weapons in an effort to protect our students (CNN). With all of the conviction imaginable of a mother and teacher, I can say that the day I am asked to participate in an educational system that requires staff to carry concealed weapons is the day I will resign without regret.
I will not align with a school system that finds armed teachers acceptable for the following reasons. First, children are intrigued by things they should not have. We are already working within a climate where it is dangerous to have personal cell phones, iPads, and other electronics unsecured at school. If teachers have guns, it is an open invitation for children to find their way into possessing it. Locking them in a cabinet or securing them in a safe won’t matter. Children are driven by curiosity and challenged by boundaries and rules. No lock is safe from a team of children with an agenda.
Next, I never want to be in a position where students fear me. If I am armed, I will automatically be defined as someone with a great deal of fear-based power. In the community where I serve, guns are not used primarily for hunting or sport. They are weapons linked with great fear due to the massive amount of damage they have caused to people who look at lot like themselves. In order for students to learn to the best of their ability, I must create a relationship based on trust. Students have to feel they can communicate with me and be vulnerable in their learning in order to challenge themselves and grow. Being armed separates me from that role.
Finally, I will not carry a gun because, in the event where I was forced to act, I do not feel I would be able to shoot a child. You see, I have years of experience that tell me that hurt children hurt others. Most children who commit gross acts of violence According to the National Library of Medicine, children who experience mental or physical abuse in the first five years of life are 38% more likely to commit violent crimes. Having witnessed this statistic firsthand in having lost students to gang violence and other gun-related fatalities, I will never be able to disassociate from children in a way that would require me to end the life of one. I don’t pretend to know the answer to our current climate of gun violence in schools, but I do know that arming teachers isn’t an option.
This is a guest post written by a reader who would like to remain anonymous. I reached out to a group of teachers and asked if someone would be willing to share their thoughts on arming teachers with guns in the classroom. Another teacher shared that she is a teacher, not a super hero. A gun show down in my kid’s classroom seems like a bad idea. While I do not know the answers either, I have my thoughts. I think of my kid’s teachers and how I am fairly certain none of them considered this when they were choosing a career in education.
I am thankful for this teacher who took the time to articulate these thoughts and share them with us. I truly appreciate hearing from someone who is on the ‘front lines’ as it literally is. My heart is broken for families that have lost children. My heart is broken for children who will have to learn to live with the tragedy they endured and witnessed that seems so preventable. My heart is broken for teachers that shove their kids in cabinets and wonder how this came to be. My heart is broken for little boys and girls who will grow up with stories about what a heroic man their father was when he took bullets to save kid’s lives, but they will never know their father because he is dead. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher. I hold my breath more days than not when I drop off my kids, as so many other parents do. Lock down drills being common is already bananas. Arming teachers? What the actual hell is going on?! This is supposed to be school.
I want those reading this to know that I respect your opinion, but I will take no baloney in the comment section. The founding fathers wanted us to be safe from tyranny and I am pretty sure that the NRA as it has evolved today would make them sad. This isn’t political, it’s common sense. America can do better than arming teachers and making our classrooms more of a war zone than it already is.