Quick Takes: Guns and School Safety

Public Schools Need to Hire Security Guards, Not Arm Educators

Tom Horne’s proposed plan to have educators hold on-campus firearms is counterintuitive to promoting safety — security officers with years of tactical training are the only personnel who should be allowed to wield handguns around children. Costs may be high, but hiring professionals who are trained to be level-headed during shooter situations is ultimately the best option to protect schools.

After 9/11, the nation proposed many different methods to stop future terrorist attacks. One of the most effective changes was the increased hiring of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs), who enforce from the air and rank among federal law enforcement officers with the highest in handgun accuracy. Though highly expensive (costing an estimated $3,000 per flight and $12 million per year), FAMs have been effective in decreasing terrorist attacks. According to the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank dedicated to the research and promotion of conservative public policy, FAMs have helped foil at least eight terrorist plots since 9/11.

Just as the federal budget was adjusted to accommodate more FAMs in 2001, states should adjust their budgets to meet the costs of hiring more school security officers. Armed officers at the scene instead of a phone call away could save numerous lives. Specific school safety grants, cost-sharing partnerships and the reallocation of state money could all assist in making more funds available for protection.

A police officer or ground-equivalent FAM is worth the extra cost over having an educator go through gun training. No budget or other monetary impediment should stand in the way of protecting the nation’s children.

— Cedric Eicher
Staff Writer

Arming School Faculty May Be Only Economically Feasible Option

The recent horrors in Newtown, Conn. may make certain school faculty members feel the need to not only carry pencils and binder paper to school, but fully loaded firearms as well. Although inconvenient to teachers and potentially alarming to students, arming staff may be the most efficient and economically feasible approach to ensuring a safe learning environment for kids.

While hiring trained security guards at each school would be ideal, state budgets are tight. The Washington Post averaged the yearly cost of supplying all public schools with a security guard at $2.5 billion dollars. Combine this with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report that Arizona will cut $183 million from K-12 spending this year, and it’s conclusive that training the teachers themselves would be a more realistic solution.

After 9/11, America took direct action against preventing armed threats with the Federal Flight Deck Officers program. Similar to equipping teachers, this allowed commercial airline pilots to become certified to carry guns on board planes. At a fraction of the cost of hiring security professionals, this program quickly addressed the looming safety threat and can easily be replicated by staff in public schools.

There is no more hiding from such catastrophes because, frankly, school is no longer safe. Ensuring that teachers are prepared and armed to protect the children they teach 180 days a year is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

— Matthew Rosin
Staff Writer

Instead of More Guns, Support for the Mentally Ill Must Improve

The undeniable rise in mass shootings in the past couple decades has given the United States good reason to change its gun control policy, but creating a law that increases the presence of firearms in schools is not the proper way to approach the issue. The U.S. should change the counter-productive manner in which the media covers these tragedies as well as improve support for the mentally ill in the US, not depend on fantastical acts of heroism from school teachers.

A 2012 survey by Mother Jones, a nonprofit news organization, reports that of the 62 mass shootings since 1982, not one has been ended by an armed civilian. The argument for hiring more school resource officers in schools also falls apart given the presence of armed security during the Virginia Tech and Columbine massacres in 1999 and 2007, respectively. Moreover, both Mother Jones and a 2000 survey by the New York Times reported that at least half of shooting massacres are committed by the mentally ill, including paranoid schizophrenics and the suicidally depressed.

The problem is not how to confront a crazed shooter — who can legally obtain more than what is necessary to overpower an armed principal — but that these individuals require special attention that society does not sufficiently provide. A step in the right direction should not be to arm more people, but to increase access to mental health providers, oppose the social stigma against recommending and seeking help and to avoid sensationalized coverage of these incidents by the national media.

— Nico Hemsley
Staff Writer

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