Monday, February 26, 2018

Questions About Arming Teachers

As we continue to grapple with the need to reduce gun violence and, in particular, to protect our young people in their schools, the same tired old recommendations keep arising. One of them, being pushed by Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association, is an extension of the "only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun" mantra - arm teachers so they can protect their students. This is already being done by some schools, mostly in isolated rural areas where a police response to an incident may be long in arriving (see a representative discussion here)

I think arming our children's teachers and expecting them to be warriors when needed is an abysmally stupid idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that we don't respect our teachers or pay them a decent wage now ... and yet some would ask them to put their lives on the line as armed guards as well.

There have been a lot of articles and analyses looking at the desirability and the economics of arming our school teachers. Here are some of the questions that have been asked about the recommendation to turn our teachers into bodyguards, compiled from a large number of articles and analyses I've read over the last week. Some overlap or partially duplicate each other, but I think all of them are reasonable and worth detailed discussion and consideration before we do anything really stupid ...

1. Who will decide which teachers will get guns? Will school administrators select the teachers to be armed, or will the armed teachers be selected from those who volunteer? What criteria will be used to select the teachers to be armed? Will teachers who refuse to be armed be penalized for their decision?

2. Who will provide the guns? Will school districts provide guns for their teachers, or will the teachers be required to provide their own guns?

3. If school districts provide guns for their teachers, how will the expense be met at a time when many school districts are already unable to provide textbooks and teaching supplies?

4. If teachers are required to provide their own guns, who will set the requirements for the kinds of guns they must purchase? Will they be reimbursed for guns and ammunition they are required to purchase if they don't own any guns, or the right gun?

5. What type of training will armed teachers be required to attend, how often must they attend, and what standards will they be required to meet? Who will provide the training and who will set the standards to be met? Will the teachers be required to pay to attend this training? Will they be reimbursed?

6. Where will the guns be stored at the school when they are not being carried? Will each room be required to have an appropriate gun safe?

7. Who determines the rules of engagement for use of firearms by armed teachers (that is, the rules governing when a teacher is authorized to draw or brandish a weapon)? Will these be set at the national, state, or local level?

8. Who will audit armed teachers' adherence to regulations governing weapons in school? What penalties will apply to teachers who mishandle a weapon?

9. Will teachers be required to disclose any history of mental illness, criminal records, or other disqualifying information before being issued a gun? Will teachers with a history of mental illness be allowed to carry weapons in school?

10. How will administrators conduct non-weapon-related discipline against a teacher? Will there be armed assistance available to deter workplace shootings?

11. If an armed teacher is attempting to locate and deal with an "active shooter," who will be responsible for protecting that teacher's classroom?

12. What happens if a teacher, in good faith, misidentifies a student or another armed teacher or security person as a threat?

13. Will teachers who do not wish to carry lethal weapons be authorized to carry nonlethal alternatives (pepper spray, mace, Tasers, etc)?

14. If an armed teacher is shot, can another teacher without the appropriate training use his or her weapon?

15. How will armed teachers identify themselves to arriving first responders?

16. Will armed teachers be required to attempt an arrest before using lethal force? Will they be required to fire warning shots? Will they be trained to "shoot to wound" before shooting to kill?

17. Will weapons proficiency training count for teachers' continuing education and professional development/certification? Who will pay for this training (see question #5)?

18. How will insurers write policies and adjust liability insurance premiums for schools and for individual teachers to account for the known presence of weapons in the workplace?

19. Will teachers receive additional pay for being armed?

20. Will armed teachers leading field trips be authorized to carry their weapons with them? What will they do with their weapons if they are not permitted in the field trip destination - will their personally owned vehicles or school-owned transport be outfitted with secure storage boxes?

21. How many teachers in a school campus should be armed? Who decides, and what criteria do they use?

22. Do parents have a right to refuse to send their kids to schools with armed teachers?

23. Will students or their parents have to legally acknowledge the presence of guns in their schools, and agree to accept the attendant risk? If a parent signs this acknowledgement on behalf of a minor student who comes of age during the school year, can the student refuse to abide by its provisions? What are his/her options?

24. Will armed teachers attend pep rallies, dances, or other gatherings? Will they participate in lockdown drills as if they were armed or unarmed?

25. Will funding for armed teacher programs, if it is provided, be distributed according to local budgets, statewide formulas, or national formulas?

26. What is the right ratio of armed to unarmed teachers? Will schools in high-risk neighborhoods be authorized more armed teachers than schools in neighborhoods perceived as being at lower risk? What factors will be considered in making this decision, and who will make it?

27. What should be the procedure for debriefing and assessing armed teachers' performance during a crisis?

28. Can an armed teacher who fails to perform his/her function in an emergency be fired or otherwise disciplined? What should be the consequences for an armed teacher who does not act according to the rules of engagement (see question 7) during an emergency?

29. Who is liable if a gun is stolen from an armed teacher and later used in a crime: the teacher or the school?

Go ahead ... let me know what you think.

Have a good day. Stay safe ... and reasonable.

More thoughts tomorrow.



Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Arm teachers - arm our president books since it is obvious he is uneducated.

John Hill said...

All good questions.
As always, it's the answers that are controversial.

Mike said...

Should a teacher that will be armed be a reserve police officer? Or maybe an Army reservist.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The notion of arming teachers seems so simplistic. It may generate as many problems as solutions. What about teacher nut jobs?

allenwoodhaven said...

Good questions, all. I didn't need any to already know that it is a very bad idea. It would lead to tragedy more often than saving the day.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

As a solution, arming teachers is a nonstarter.

Duckbutt said...

Arming teachers is a bad idea. This seems to be arrived at without much thought.