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Another Controversy in Texas: School Staff 'May Be Armed'

Another Controversy in Texas: School Staff 'May Be Armed'

A warning sign posted outside of a Texas preK-12 school is reigniting a touchy debate that has even made its way to the presidential debate stage: should teachers carry weapons in schools?

Medina ISD, a school in South Texas, has displayed a sign that reads:

”Please be aware that staff at Medina ISD may be armed and will use whatever force necessary to protect our students.”

The sign has went viral, being circulated rapidly on social media channels as well as by local news stations as people discuss the appropriateness of such a sign.

The school’s administration won’t comment on whether or not school staff actually carries weapons (although doing so would be within the law); they say it could compromise the school’s safety plan to do so.

Despite an immediate reaction to the sign, Medina ISD isn’t the first district to post such a warning. In 2014, the Argyle Independent School District made headlines for posting nearly identical signs at all four of its schools. 

In other words, the debate may have recently been ignited, but the concept of guns in schools has been a highly politicized issue for years.

 

The pros and the cons

For advocates of teachers wielding guns, the scenario is a no-brainer as a legitimate way to protect students from violence and malicious intruders. Advocates argue that declaring schools as “gun-free zones” basically lets intruders know they are dealing with an easy target—whoever these intruders may be.

For opponents, giving teachers guns detracts from their main role as educators of students and challenges them to be as good as trained personnel who have worked tirelessly to learn how to use weapons to fend off assailants. In states that allow teachers to carry guns, many of them require that teachers receive special training to do so—but not all of them. Opponents argue, however, that even with specialized training, teachers are not in position to be given such a role.

 

Where do teachers stand on all of this?

In 2013, a survey from the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Educators Association, found that 68 percent of members are opposed to being allowed to carry guns in schools.

A principal and licensed gun owner squarely disagreed with the concept of arming teachers in a post for Education Week.

"How much training do swat teams, police officers, or security guards undergo before they are ready to handle these dangerous encounters? How exactly can we ready educators in a shortened time frame? People who become public defenders know what they're getting themselves into. Educators didn't (and don't) sign up for that line of work,” he said. 

But there are teachers, albeit less vocal, who are in favor of their right to be armed while working.

In 2014, after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Utah offered its teachers an opportunity to take a free gun training course. Over 400 signed up. 

“We are the first line of defense. Someone is going to call the cops and they are going to be informed, but how long is it going to take for them to get to the school? And in that time, how many students are going to be affected by the gunman roaming the halls?” said Utah teacher Kasey Hansen to News21.com. 

 

Presidential candidates have picked sides

The issue of permitting guns in schools has received significant attention in the current presidential race as several candidates have spoken out about their views.

In January of last year, Republican candidate Donald Trump said he would abolish gun-free zones in schools on his very first day in office—though subsequent back-tracking has made it unclear what his actual intentions are.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, firmly believes guns should be kept out of classrooms.

Clinton, who has been endorsed by both the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, said:

“Parents, teachers, and schools should have the right to keep guns out of classrooms, just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels, by the way.”

Teachers: Education World would like to know where you stand. Take our poll below to weigh-in.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

9/21/2016

Would you feel safer if your school was a gun-free zone?

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