Abstract Thinking: On mass shootings and arming teachers
Abby LeClercq is a sophomore telecommunications journalism major writes "Abstract Thinking" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado armed with assault rifles, plenty of ammunition, Molotov cocktails and two propane bombs set to go off at 11:17 a.m. When the bombs failed to detonate, the gunmen re-entered the building and began their shooting spree that would kill 12 students and one teacher and would wound more than 20 more people before turning the guns on themselves shortly after 12 p.m. They were later identified as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
A majority of the deaths occurred in the library which was filled with 56 people, four of whom were teachers while the rest were students. In the transcripts of the 911 call placed by teacher Patti Nielson, the dispatcher clearly hears her telling the students to get down and stay under the tables. We know now that despite these efforts, the students were still visible to the shooters and this led to a majority of the casualties.
The Columbine school shooting prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety. Since then, 32 states have passed laws requiring schools to implement lockdown drills to educate students on ways to be aware during an active shooter situation.
Following Columbine, our nation has seen 12 school shootings, including Virginia Tech, the deadliest school shooting in US history, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the most recent — 136 students and professors killed in total with many more injured. Clearly, a change needs to be seen.
Valentine’s Day this year was a day that will forever be remembered by students in Parkland, Florida. This was the day that former student Nikolas Cruz took an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines and entered the freshman building of Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz pulled the fire alarm and opened fire on students as they exited their classrooms in confusion. In the six minutes of shooting, 14 students and three staff members were killed while over a dozen more were injured.
According to many students and residents of the area, it was no surprise to learn that Cruz was the shooter. They had all seen the warning signs and even reported him to authorities numerous times. Yet he was still able to obtain guns, knives and ammunition.
These are the sole arguments behind gun control in the U.S. Why should a civilian be allowed to own an automatic weapon? Why should a person who has been diagnosed with a mental condition and has been reported to authorities for violent behavior have access to weapons at all? While these questions remain, another has been posed. Should teachers be allowed to carry firearms in the classroom?
President Donald Trump reacted to the most recent mass shooting with a call to arms. He proposed that some teachers be allowed to carry weapons in the classroom and he was met with an overwhelming wave of dissent.
Teachers across the nation have started movements such as #ArmMeWith to show their opinions on the subject. This particular movement showcases the resources that teachers say they would rather be armed with instead of firearms, such as more books, counselors, teachers and smaller class sizes. They believe that with these resources, they will be able to more easily recognize mental illness in students and get them the help they need before it is too late. Within 48 hours of the start of the hashtag, more than 5,000 educators joined the movement with hundreds more following every hour.
In my opinion, arming educators will not fix the problem. Imagine halls lined with teachers carrying weapons at their sides, eyes sweeping the crowds of students in search of anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know about you, but to me, this image is comparable to a third-world country in wartime. Not a pretty picture.
People with the dream to become teachers do so with the intent to educate our nation’s youth and shape them into leaders who will change the world for the better. According to an interview with CNN, English teacher and co-founder of the #ArmMeWith movement, Brittany Wheaton, says that the movement was a response to the suggestion that more guns in schools would help people feel safer.
"I went to college to educate children, not because I wanted to kill another human. If I wanted a job where I was responsible for carrying a firearm, I would have taken a different career path," Wheaton said. "Teachers already shoulder a huge burden when it comes to educating properly, due to lack of funding, support and resources and making sure their students are taken care of emotionally. Asking us to now carry the burden of having the responsibility to kill is irreparably damaging, even if we never have to discharge our weapon."