The recent TPS Board election kept Tulsa from falling in line with the rest of the state’s stance on guns.
In an election for the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education on April 2, candidates Stacey Wooley and Nicole Nixon ran on opposing platforms. In the election, Wooley defeated Nixon 68.1 percent to 31.9 percent.
Although Nixon lost, her campaign promise of giving public school teachers guns and the training necessary to use them has wide-sweeping implications that must be addressed. In an interview with Channel 8 News, she said, “I think a well-trained teacher should have the right to defend their students.” This policy promise promotes the idea that schools and the students inside would potentially be safer from mass shooters if all the teachers were armed and trained with firearms. This policy of arming teachers is a new proposal by the National Rifle Association to prevent school shootings in response to people who argue that gun access is the real problem behind the escalating number of mass shootings in the United States.
This policy is the exact opposite solution to our current problem of school violence. It leads to accidental injury or death, is an economic strain on the education system and makes the lives of police officers harder. Money that would be spent on arming teachers and administrative staff would be better spent on guidance counselors and psychological help for problematic students.
In a 2018 study by the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “The Major Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States,” researchers found that death due to firearms was the second greatest killer of children in the United States after motor-vehicle accidents. 20,000 children died in 2018 and 3,143 of those died to due to firearms injuries. One of the major threats to children and adolescents is the misuse of firearms across the United States. This potential loss of lives is costly, and it is, therefore, unnecessary to put weapons in the hands of teachers, where it could cause problems in the lives of these students.
This policy of arming teachers is not supported by a wide variety of educational professionals due to its costly measures. These include The American Federation of Teachers, The National Education Association, The National Association of School Resource Officers and the U.S Department of Education. This is because of two reasons: it does not improve the safety of teachers and students, and it is an unnecessary expenditure on the education system. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García argues, “The idea of arming teachers is ill-conceived, preposterous and dangerous.
Arming teachers and other school personnel does nothing to prevent gun violence.” She additionally argued that this policy would be a waste of resources that could be better spent on more important needs, such as school counselors. By spending money on more important issues, schools could improve safety without the need for dangerous firearms.
The policy of arming teachers also makes the lives of police officers harder. If teachers are armed, it increases the risk of dangerous mistaken altercations with the police. J. Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and police chief of Montgomery County, Maryland, believes arming non-police officers makes the lives of police officers harder. This is due to the fact that whenever “a cop shows up and there’s people with guns in their hand … We don’t know who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy. That is very dangerous for the police. And it is dangerous to the community.” By including guns in the hands of teachers, the high tension inherent in school security opportunities could lead to unnecessary injuries or even casualties.
While the policy of arming teachers may have failed in Oklahoma, it has gained steam across the country. According to the Education Commission of the States, at least 10 states allow teachers to possess or have access to a firearm on school grounds. In states such as Texas, Florida and Ohio, school teachers are already armed or have access to firearms. The policy of arming teachers should not be applied in the state of Oklahoma or the rest of the country. It is dangerous around children, it is a waste of resources and it makes the jobs of police officers harder than necessary. Money spent on firearms could be better spent on improving education facilities and hiring counselors necessary to stop potential shooters from making the final step toward violence.