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Burt Jones’ Push to Arm More Teachers Will Not Protect Our Schools

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(Credit: Jessica Lee)

Along with lecturing, grading, and keeping students in check, we may see the responsibility of guns falling into more and more teachers’ hands.

Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones’ incentive of paying teachers an extra $10,000 annually if they volunteer to partake in firearms training and carry guns to school is not the answer for keeping students safe. His defense for the proposal stems from a place of wanting to defend American students. “It’s sad, but it is the sign of the times that we have to go to these lengths to protect our children, but it’s just where we are,” Jones said.

The success of this proposal would strengthen a dangerous precedent for how some teachers will handle a school shooting. Volunteers may be required to undergo a training course designed for a school environment before holding arms, but it is unlikely that it will be sufficient to handle the psychological stress of facing an active shooter.

Campus Safety Magazine reported that the attacker was a current student at the institution in 43.1% of K-12 school shootings. Regardless of this information, armed teachers will be putting themselves at risk if they decide to act against a shooter. The additional psychological toll of hitting someone they recognize may cause them to miss the target and hit another student instead, achieving the opposite of the objective for arming teachers.

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Another large concern is the problems which could arise in attempting to differentiate the actual assailant and the teacher. The latter could face injury and potentially death. Injuries and deaths of innocent people could arise from pushing the responsibility of handling arms for teachers.

Volunteering teachers will predictably keep their guns locked away, but these precautions may not be as effective as one would think. Michigan Public Health reported that 74% of students who conducted school shootings acquired the firearm from their home or that of a friend or relative.

The logic behind arming teachers is that there is another layer of protection if an assailant attacks. Still, how can teachers store guns in a way which would both give them quick access in emergencies and prevent misuse by a student? There is no simple answer. The proposal may produce the frightening images of an educator fumbling with a lock as the attacker rapidly approaches and a student attacking the school through a firearm belonging to a teacher.

A JAMA Network Open study from 2021 also revealed that armed guards are not correlated with a definite decrease in injuries. Results fared significantly worse regarding deaths as the rate of schools with a present armed guard was 2.83 times greater.

It is outrageous that children must go to school without the complete certainty that they will return home safely. The addition of more firearms in a school environment will not do much to improve the trust students have in their safety. If we wish to get to the conduct more productive actions, then we must consider how Georgia’s gun laws are relatively weak.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 318, allowing Georgia residents to carry concealed handguns without the need for a weapons carry license from the state. Americans fear gun violence more than ever and yet lawmakers continue to make it easier for brutality under the pretense of protection.

The proposal hopes for the General Assembly’s support by providing grant funds for the costs of training, certification, or stipends. School safety should be a major priority of Georgia but not through this method. If accepting the proposal requires the acquisition of grant funds, then the money should be used to effectively improve other areas such as existing security measures and teacher resources.

As of now, Fulton County is one of the many school districts which do not allow arming teachers despite Georgia’s authorization. Nevertheless, the outcome of Jones’ proposal during the ongoing legislative session, which commenced on Jan. 8, may make certain boards open to the possibility. One that officials will funnel money into with questionable effectiveness.

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About the Contributor
Jennifer Lee, Opinion Editor
Jennifer Lee is a senior at Roswell and became Opinion Editor in her second year on staff. When she is not writing, she enjoys having her nose in a book, annoying her cats, and listening to music. She plans on majoring in English when she heads off in the fall.

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