As the number of school shootings has risen, President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have pushed for arming school teachers and other faculty to defend against active shooters.
This has been debated since before the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, but some conservative lawmakers intensified their efforts after the Parkland (Fla.) High School shooting in February. Many disagree with the idea, specifically student activists and teachers.
Educators and school staff in the Boston area have also expressed their concerns about giving weapons to teachers.
“The more guns that are around, the more people will get hurt,” said one teacher attending an end of the year event at Boston International Newcomers Academy, a school specifically for immigrant students. The teacher requested anonymity.
Teachers interviewed at the event stressed the importance of understanding and treating mental illness with the occurrence of 23 national shootings this year. They also encouraged close communication between police and schools to prevent violence.
Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, has argued against arming school staff, saying in a statement, “The president’s suggestion that we arm educators is simply outrageous.”
On March 14, after the Parkland shooting, about 50,000 students and activists walked out of their schools and participated in protests throughout Boston.
A Boston Latin School graduate, Janna Ranadan, took part in the March For Our Lives protest. She opposes the idea of giving teachers guns.
“The job of the teacher is incredibly stressful,” Ranadan said. She added that a teacher has enough to do just being an educator, and that firearms in their lives may be too much for them to handle.
Graciela Mohamedi, a Rockland High School physics teacher and a former US Marine, dismissed the idea of arming teachers, saying “educators are not trained” and even “police have a one-third shot of hitting their target.”
Mohamedi, who organizes protests for ending school violence, asked how can schools afford guns when there is not enough money for basic classroom necessities.
She believes that if schools were better at detecting the warning signs of mental illness, more troubled students could be identified.
This issue of guns in classrooms seems to have resulted in an increase in activism in young people. Students have shown, even though many of the them are not old enough to vote, they still understand how government and policy-making work.
“Just because we are young,” Ranadan said, “it doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on.”