Eleanor Hedges Duroy, age 15

High school students in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protest police violence. Credit: Flickr / Fibonacci Blue

 

Without stricter gun control laws to prevent deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands, some schools are considering other alternatives to prevent school shootings. Those solutions are not without their downsides.

Arming the Faculty

President Trump and Florida lawmakers have proposed arming the faculty and staff. Teachers, parents, and students have voiced concern at this proposition believing that guns in the classroom will cause more harm than good through cases of mistaken identity, accidental shootings, and potentially prolonging violent episodes should the gun be stolen from a teacher or school resource officer during a conflict.

On March 15, a teacher in Northern California accidentally wounded a student when his gun discharged during a lesson. Critics have also mentioned that teachers are overworked enough without also tasking them with providing security. Benjamin Gorman, a high school English teacher tweeted, “I’m a teacher and a gun owner with a concealed and carry permit, and I’d never want to bring a gun to my classroom. My kids need to feel safe, and I should be thinking about content and not worrying about someone grabbing my pistol. Arming teachers is a gun manufacturer’s solution.”

Adding Police Officers

Others have responded by adding police officers to the staff, which are also known as school resource officers. Representative Cynthia Stafford from Florida expressed concern about racial bias if school resource officers or teachers are armed with guns, “I’m worried a black or brown boy running down the hall like anybody else to get to safety reaches in his pocket to pull out his cell phone could be mistaken for [a] shooter.”

Armed police officers in school make parents, teachers, and students fearful for many reasons. According to a 2016 analysis by the Post, black people are also 2.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than white people. Racial bias already plays a major role in how students are disciplined in children today, and adding firearms could make disciplinary intervention deadly. The U.S. Education Department discovered that during the 2011-2012 school year, half of the preschoolers who were suspended were black, even though they only accounted for 18 percent of students enrolled in school. The Office of Civil Rights also discovered that black children are two times as likely as white children to be physically punished.

Using Metal Detectors

Many inner-city schools have already implemented safety policies including metal detectors and constant surveillance. While more research is needed on the subject, some believe that there are less school shootings in the inner-city because of it.

In New York City, no students have been shot in a public school since 2002, and no students have been killed since 1992. Community members credit their safety to the metal scanners, pat downs, and metal detecting wands used at entrances at the most at risk schools. Cid Morales, 15, told the Associated Press, “I think it’s necessary to keep us safe.” However, some students say the procedure puts a damper on the learning environment. Tajae Dennis, 16, said, “[They make] me feel like I’m going in a prison.”