opinion

COLUMN: Don’t give teachers firearms



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People light candles for a makeshift memorial Feb. 14 after an interfaith ceremony at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida, to remember the 17 victims killed last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

The shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, occurred one year ago. Since then, there has been countless conversations among
citizens, activists and lawmakers about how we can prevent this from happening again.

House Bill 1253, which would allocate school funding for firearm training, passed through an Indiana House committee last week, FOX59 News reported

Though this idea comes from a desire to protect our state’s students, allowing educators to carry firearms will ultimately put students in more danger. 

The number of school shootings recorded in 2018 varies by source depending on how a school shooting is defined. Education Week tracks incidents that happen on K-12 property during school hours or a school event that resulted in at least one injury or death other than the shooter. 

By its definition of a “school shooting”, it recorded 24 school shootings that caused 35 deaths and 79 injuries in 2018

Some believe that arming teachers will help protect students and stop shootings. 

According to FOX59 News, Indiana state law already allows teachers to be armed, but many districts choose not to. House Bill 1253 lets the decision remain in the hands of the districts.

Arming our teachers is dangerous. Even with thorough firearms training, we cannot ensure that we are putting firearms in the hands of teachers we can trust. 

The screening process to become an educator varies greatly for each state. For too many, this process is too loose.

USA Today evaluated states across the country based on their teacher screening processes. Each state's score was determined by its background check process, how it shares disciplinary records and whether misconduct was required to be reported to the state. States were scored by letter grades.

Indiana received an F. Only 15 states received an A or a B.

Indiana schools were determined to have a weak screening process and very little public information available about teacher misconduct.

Unfortunately, because of these loose regulations, an admirable profession can be infiltrated by violent and abusive adults unfit to work with children. 

Across the country there are stories about abuse against students with special needs. This month, a mother in West Virginia discovered her nonverbal, special-needs daughter was the victim of violent verbal abuse after hiding an audio recorder in her hair. 

Young students are often victims of sexual abuse and assault by teachers, like the case of a girl in Hawaii whose rapist was sentenced to 10 years in prison this month. She was only 14 when her teacher began sexually assaulting her. Some instances occurred on school grounds. 

These abusive people were able to get teaching jobs, where they already hold a position of power which can be exploited to take advantage of young students. Imagine how much more power carrying a gun would give those kinds of people.

Exploring ways to increase our schools’ security is vital to the issue of school safety. If done right, it may allow our children to learn in a safer environment. 

However, until Indiana schools strengthen their screening process to ensure that no educator will be a threat to a students safety, we cannot allow teachers to be armed. 

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