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Time For A National Conversation On Allowing Teachers To Protect Their Classrooms

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

In the wake of tragic and senseless shootings at a high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and a college campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, we once again find ourselves asking why these attacks occur and how we can stop them in the future.

In both cases, the damage was mitigated after brave students sacrificed their own lives to save those of their classmates. In North Carolina, Riley Howell was finishing up the last day of classes when the deranged Trystan Terrell pulled out a weapon and opened fire. Immediately, Mr. Howell subdued the gunman and sacrificed his life in order to give his classmates a chance to escape. In Colorado, Kendrick Castillo was in his English class when two shooters walked inside and opened fire. Just like Mr. Howell, Mr. Castillo gave his own life to subdue the shooters.

The lives of both of these young men were taken far too early, but we will never know how many others would have died without their bravery.

The question now is, where do we go from here? All too often, we see murderous maniacs targeting schools because they represent an easy target with large numbers of people who are unarmed and unable to protect themselves. After two more horrific shootings, it’s time this country has a long overdue dialogue about arming teachers to protect themselves and their classrooms.

After a shooter took 17 lives in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the school’s public safety commission overwhelmingly voted to recommend that the state legislature enact a bill that allows teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. Just recently, Governor DeSantis signed a bill to that effect into law.

In the wake of a tragic school shooting in Texas, the legislature is considering legislation that would increase armed personnel in schools in addition to boosting resources for mental health services.

Regardless of political views, we can all agree that we need to do everything in our power to stop these horrific school shootings from taking place. One life is too many, and we are seemingly back in this same position every few months.

Despite some vocal objection, the fact is that allowing teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons could very well help prevent future mass shootings. Schools make easy targets precisely because these murderers recognize they will likely be the only armed person inside. Having a teacher, janitor or anyone else with a concealed weapon after undergoing extensive training could very well stop a shooter in his or her tracks before we see more mass casualties.

If there are other proposals to stop these school shootings, they should also be a part of the dialogue, but rejecting teacher carry proposals outright simply because of an opposition to any and all firearms is not a productive way to move forward.

The unfortunate reality is that the only real defense from a murderer with a firearm is another firearm. Clearly, these people have no respect for the law. A gun-ban has not and will not stop them from entering these schools and taking innocent students’ lives. Allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons is one actionable way to move forward. 

It is too late for Mr. Howell, Mr. Castillo and the countless other students who have lost their lives in school shootings over the last several years. But moving forward with a proactive plan to allow teachers to protect themselves and their students could help stop these tragedies in the future. If just one life was saved, it would all be worth it.

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