published Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Arming Tennessee teachers

Bradley County seems to be preparing to become one of the first school systems in Tennessee to allow some teachers to arm themselves in the classroom.

That’s a frightening thought.

Just weeks ago, a Lafayette, Ga., school resource officer turned his taser on a girl who was in a hair-pulling fight with another girl. The scene was caught on video by a student who later posted it online — something unheard of until cell phones made everyone a photographer, videographer and town crier.

So in Bradley County, will a teacher lose his or her head and pull a gun on students? Or mistake a fake gun for a real one? Or be killed by a police officer who mistakes him or her for a school gunman if there’s a lock down for some false alarm?

Probably not, but guns have no place in schools — whether they are wielded by students or local residents or teachers.

Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation this spring that allows certain school employees to carry concealed weapons beginning July 1, as long as the person has a handgun carry permit, completes a 40-hour school policing course and has the superintendent’s permission. It was a direct response to the Newtown shooting disaster, and Tennessee was among about a half dozen other states that passed similar laws allowing more people to carry weapons in schools.

Since Newtown, about 500 proposed “school safety” bills have floated around state legislatures across the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Fortunately, few Tennessee districts have been interested in giving guns to teachers.

But in Bradley County, Superintendent Johnny McDaniel is interested. He says certain questions will have to be answered before letting school staff members load up. Those question include how would teacher guns affect insurance rates at the county’s 17 schools.

He points to Bradley Central High Principal Todd Shoemaker, a former law enforcement officer, as an apt and willing candidate to carry a weapon at school.

But at least one parent is concerned.

“I think having one [resource] officer, who is trained to handle crisis situations, is better than having 20 armed teachers,” said parent Bill Pickel. “Those teachers don’t have the same kind of training and it’s not fair to expect them to be heroes.”

Many school officials across Southeast Tennessee, including Hamilton County’s, share that thought. So do we.

Teachers and law enforcement hold distinct roles, and things could go terribly wrong if teachers try to be armed guards. Sometimes things go wrong with resource officers — as the LaFayette taser incident showed.

We have to stop kidding ourselves about this issue. Guns are great on a hunting trip or a battlefield. But our schools, our streets, our parks and our work places are not hunting grounds. And they won’t be battlefields unless we let them become that by letting everyone carry a gun just like they carry a cellphone.

Enough, already.

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klifnotes said...

Arming teachers, and everyone and anyone down to the janitor, cafeteria worker, bus driver that's being considered in some schools is creating the perfect storm for a tragedy waiting to happen.

There's already been documented problems with armed SROs in schools. Even a few shootings, some resulting in death of a student. Sexual and physical abuses. Why would America take such a chance with its most vulnerable, it's future, its children? 'Nuf said

June 19, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.
jwkilgore said...

I agree that, in a perfect world, schools SHOULD be "gun free zones", and should be places of peaceful learning. But unfortunately for the anti-gun types, we live in a different world. A world where monsters are rare, but they still exist. A world where sticking your head in the sand and hoping that the bad guy can't see you just won't cut it.

Guns have always been allowed in TN schools. Current law allows military personnel, police officers, private security guards, and even STUDENTS who are participating in school-sponsored shooting clubs to possess firearms on school property. Also, parents are allowed to possess firearms in their vehicles while on school property, so the next time you're in the car line you may actually be surrounded by weapons (see TN law 39-17-1309 (c) and (e)).

Unless I miss read the final version of the law (to go into effect on July 1), the author of this opinion piece left off one critical requirement for arming a school employee: the employee must be a current or former police officer. So pretty much everything Mr. Pickel said can be completely ignored because he obviously hasn't read the law and doesn't know what it does. By law, the armed teacher would have the training he so values.

As for klifnotes' "perfect storm" fantasy world where "everyone and anyone" is armed and ready to pump lead into any kid who steps out of line... I'm actually shocked that they found a single staff member in a single school in a single school district that met all the criteria. In addition to the requirement that the employee must be a current or former police officer, the only way this can happen is if everyone and their insurance agent and lawyer agree to it.

So the fantasy that all schools are currently devoid of weapons and this law will suddenly unleash a flood of weapons (Carry guns like cell phones? Are you serious???) in every classroom is just that - a complete fantasy.

Finally, anyone who makes the half-baked argument that "teachers shouldn't be expected to guard their children" obviously don't know the same teaches I know. Teachers at Sandy Hook valiantly sacrificed their lives trying to shield their charges with their own bodies; most of the elementary teachers I know would do the same.

Personally, speaking as a parent with children in Hamilton county schools, I'd much rather arm a competent, trained administrator or teacher than have a bored SRO wandering the halls. I salute the administrators in Bradly county for bucking the national trend toward the "stick-your-head-in-the-sand" method of school security.

June 19, 2013 at 6:56 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

A shooter might think twice about entering a school with the intent to harm even if a group of teachers could be armed. Even if they aren't actually.

June 20, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

You have to be drinking koolaid to send your child to a school where a teacher is carrying a gun.

June 20, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.
jjmez said...

LaughingBoy said... A shooter might think twice about entering a school with the intent to harm even if a group of teachers could be armed.

Most mass shooters who enter schools and other public places already have no intentions of leaving alive. They've already mentally prepared themselves to die. Their goal is to take out as many as possible in the process.

When a mentally unstable teacher (and we already know they exist) draws a gun on little junior or missy because they missed a spelling word or got a math problem wrong, forgot to turn in their homework assignment, or the armed janitor makes little missy or junior drop their pants at gunpoint don't say no one tried to warn of the consequences allowing everyone to be armed on school property.

June 20, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
klifnotes said...

According to United Press International, Huffington Post, Tucson Weekly, Southern Poverty Law center, Former Kindergarten teacher and Minuteman founder Chris Simcox is charged with child molestation

upi.com

June 20, 2013 at 5:03 p.m.
jesse said...

Seems like most on here think the best solution is "Do nothing and hope for the best"!

Maybe we all need to just PRAY HARDER!Like sooner or later GOD is gonna take notice and STOP the slaughter! RIGHT???

June 22, 2013 at 4:24 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Why not arm the students?

June 22, 2013 at 8:39 a.m.
anticorp said...

One thing we know for sure, reducing gun violence is no priority of gun advocates. They don't care!!!

If you prove to them it would virtually eliminate gun violence they'd still reject it. I think it has something to do with intellect and the mature brain.

They want their toys. Live with it.....or die.

If ending gun violence mattered as much as profits we'd do like Japan.

June 23, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.
chet123 said...

THIS MADNESS WILL END WHEN ONE OF THE TEACHER ARM THEMSELF AND INJURE OR ACCIDENTLY KILL A STUDENT....OR A TEACHER GO BERSERK AS THE CASE AT UNI.ALABAMA AT HUNTVILLE KILLING THREE PROFESSORS.....

MULTI-MILLIONS DOLLARS LAW SUITS WILL END THIS MADDNESS...A LAW PUSHED BY BALLOON-HEAD,PIN-BRAIN LAW-MAKERS

June 25, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.
chet123 said...

IT IS A SHAME IT WILL HAVE TO BE TRUE EFFECTIVE PUSH-BACK OF STRIKING DOWN THIS CRAZY LAW THRU BLOOD SHADE OF THE INNOCENT.

June 25, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.
chet123 said...

ONLY ONE THAT PROFITING ARE CROOKED LAWYERS AND GUN MANUFACTURERS........

HOW THAT FOR PURE CAPATALISM!!!!!! HA HA HA!

June 25, 2013 at 12:26 p.m.
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