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Opinion

Readers React: Here’s what teachers say about putting guns in their classrooms

High school students gather in front of the White House on Wednesday to rally against gun violence.
High school students gather in front of the White House on Wednesday to rally against gun violence. Inside the White House, President Trump held a listening session with students, parents and teachers about the topic.
(Bonnie Jo Mount / Washington Post)

When President Trump floated the possibility of arming select teachers at each school campus with guns to stop shootings like the one that took place Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla., the reaction from Los Angeles Times letter writers was swift and almost completely one-sided. The consensus opinion was that putting guns into classrooms would only create more problems than it might solve.

Particularly dismissive and derisive were the letter writers who stand to “benefit” from this proposal: teachers. Since the shooting, we’ve heard from dozens of teachers and parents calling for more gun control, but the teachers’ criticism of the president grew more pointed after Trump brainstormed the idea of giving guns to educators. Several suggested that serving as armed guards would add too much to their heavy workloads and run counter to a teacher’s mission.

Heidi Lesemann of Los Angeles imagines what a panicked, armed teacher would do:

As a former elementary school teacher, I am appalled at the idea that teachers should be trained to carry guns in the classroom. Are we back to the Wild West?

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Even well-trained police officers have been known to shoot and kill an innocent person out of panic. What about a “gun-trained” teacher in a chaotic, terrifying, life-threatening situation whose goal is to protect his or her students? What are the chances that “training” will enable a teacher to find the target in a school of screaming, fleeing students?

Not all teachers can even keep track of their own cellphones or their students’ work; imagine if you give them a gun.
Lorraine Stein-Wiener, Rancho Palos Verdes

There is no one solution. It takes a multifaceted approach and a look at what other democratic countries have done about gun control.

Los Angeles resident Louis Fantasia, a gun owner, doesn’t think this proposal has been thought through:

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I have been involved in training classroom teachers for more than 20 years. Many people know this. Few people know that I am also a gun owner.

Suppose I decide to go back to classroom teaching and state my gun ownership as one of my qualifications, and because I am “adept” and “talented” and, I hope, one of the “very best” teachers, I am asked to conceal and carry in the classroom. Let’s also suppose that one tragic day, someone with an AR-15 walks in and starts shooting.

Say I get the call from the principal’s office and have to join other “adept and talented” colleagues who are armed. What next? We go in with guns blazing? Has anyone thought this through? How does this not lead to more panic, more shooting and more death?

Arming teachers is not only a stupid idea, it’s also a dangerous one.

Reece Talley of Santa Clarita calls for “hardening” school campuses:

I am a teacher (more than 30 years) and an National Rifle Assn. life member. I’m also a firearms instructor and a military veteran. I know firearms, and I know teachers.

It is my opinion that arming teachers is not going to be an effective deterrent to campus shootings. Most of the teachers I know will hesitate before firing. It’s the way they are wired. Stand in front of a student and take a bullet? Sure. But take out a shooter? They aren’t wired like police.

However, having trained law enforcement officers at all schools and making all entrances and exits secure will effectively stop school shootings. Expensive? Heck yes, but it is also the only really effective way to safeguard our children. You need to go to Washington to see how well this works, where government buildings are “hardened” because they are known targets.

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Rather than go after guns, let’s do something that really counts, something proven to work: Let’s make schools so hardened against violent intruders that they lose their luster as “soft targets.”

Ann Kreile of San Marcos doubts that a teacher would fire at anyone:

I was a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District for many years. There is no way then (or now) that I could ever hold a gun in my hand and shoot anyone.

Teachers have enough to do. How can we possibly expect them to handle guns, especially if their beliefs do not allow them to kill anyone?

Lorraine Stein-Wiener of Rancho Palos Verdes worries what might be done with a gun even in the absence of an active shooter:

As a retired teacher/librarian, I believe that arming educators has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever considered.

I am not worried about teachers turning the guns on the students — although believe me, teenagers push all of your buttons, and this could happen. Teachers work hard and are under tremendous pressure as it is; giving them a gun will only add to their worries.

I don’t care if you are in a high-income school or a low-income school — that gun will become a prize that the kids will try to steal.

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Not all teachers can even keep track of their own cellphones or their students’ work; imagine if you give them a gun. Heck, if these kids can hack computers at schools so easily, what would stop them from going after guns?

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