Readers React: Mass murder is a grim new risk for schools that arming teachers won’t fix

High school students demonstrate at the entrance to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office and deliver boxes of petitions for more gun control on Feb. 21.
High school students demonstrate at the entrance to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office and deliver boxes of petitions for more gun control on Feb. 21.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

To the editor: In the 1990s, public school educators did not think or need to say, “We are not warriors, we are teachers.” No one talked about how to “shelter in place.” (“We already ask too much of teachers. Don’t ask them to take on kids with guns,” Opinion, March 6)

During that time, as a community college counselor, I met with the relative of a student who committed suicide after killing four strangers at a local gym. Two years later, I counseled the spouse of a teacher at the nearby high school who was unable to save a student’s life during a shooting. The teacher’s grief and guilt profoundly affected the functioning of the whole family.

The repercussions of each gun death extends out to every member of a family and educational setting, as well as heartbroken friends and strangers struggling to provide comfort. The possibility of an armed teacher inadvertently shooting innocent students in a gun melee is not going to make things better, let alone safer.

Rather than continue to enhance the fortunes of the National Rifle Assn. and its supporters, the president and Republican politicians must do their duty to protect and serve the country. They must be the warriors in the fight to enact and enforce common-sense gun control.


Mary Rider, Idyllwild


To the editor: I am a graduate student and a substitute teacher for the city of Alexandria, Va. I see the fear in the eyes of the children when any discussion of drills or guns arises, and I feel the fear in my own pitted stomach as well.

I agree with op-ed article writer Belle Chesler that teachers can only do so much. Our job is to educate and advocate for the young minds who cannot do it themselves — or those, like the students of Parkland, Fla., whose opinions on guns are dismissed because of their age. It prompts the question as to whether reality will set in or not in the minds of politicians and even the NRA.

The basic reality of more guns in places of supposed safety will only increase the already growing fear that maybe this day, or the next, will be the last for these children. Instead there should be a call to a different type of arms, one that makes an attempt to unify this country and seek out the real problems at hand, instead of placing new ones in multiple hands.

Jenni Dooley, Alexandria, Va.


To the editor: Brilliant, heartbreaking letter by this teacher.

Yes, the emotional stresses are heavy on our kids and the hurts are too great, as she says. But as I’m sure this teacher knows, the student who’s making “disturbing art” needs more than to be told to “tone down the violence in his work.”

He needs counseling, gentle and concerned curiosity as to what’s hurting him that makes him create such violent art. This takes a financial commitment to schools that is sorely lacking.

Kids who are expelled or punished for acting out need just the opposite. They need help.

Ellen Butterfield, Studio City

The writer is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

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