By JERRICE DONELSON, Staff Writer
With all the rigorous training necessary to become a certified teacher, should a CCW and “ability to use a firearm” be added to the resumes of our pre-service teachers? It goes without saying, that witnessing our worst nightmares play out nationally at the hands of someone taking the lives of fellow students, teachers, administrators, and our children definitely needs some serious discussion. However, does adding more fire power to an already ignited powder keg of debate regarding gun control [and teacher preparation] the answer to the question of how we can protect our children in school? States across the country took to the debate after the most recent tragedy in Connecticut regarding if teachers should be armed in the classroom. The NRA proposed legislation to allow school personnel to carry guns and, while this decision was stated to have had no correlation to Sandy Hook, the NRA produced a 225-page study to have outlined eight recommendations including training school staff in using firearms.
In March, South Dakota became the first state in the nation to enact a law explicitly authorizing school employees to carry guns on the job, including teachers, according to the New York Times. While the law leaves it up to school districts to decide, the school district must receive the permission of its local law enforcement agency before carrying out the program. This relentless discourse by the NRA and state officials has even landed here in Michigan as educators throughout the Grand Rapids area said instead of focusing on increasing firearms in schools, safety can be improved by providing better mental health services to those in need and improving security systems, says Mlive.com.
But, the question still remains, is training teachers to use fire arms moving in the right direction in protecting the classrooms? This question was posed to a few pre-service teachers at the University of Michigan Dearborn and the responses were similarly reflective of the national debate. Many responded with concern of having guns around children would be more of an anxiety than protection. “I am not a fan of the thought of teachers having guns in schools”, says Megan Proudlock, Senior in the School of Education Elementary Certification program, majoring in Language Arts and Learning Disabilities. “It puts a lot more pressure on teachers! All it takes is a child getting ahold of that gun or one mistake. Then you are held responsible for the outcome.”
Other student and pre-service teachers expressed similar apprehension while questioning what measures should be put in place to ensure no accidents and limited or restricted access to the schools. “The idea of having guns around little children is a bad idea, and there should be more safety measures put into the schools such as a ‘safety area’ similar to hazardous weather,” says Salam Chami, Senior, Early Childhood Development. She concludes, “There shouldn’t be easy access to the buildings for the public and new measures should be put in place for safety for the children.”
Although, the idea of teachers with guns in the classroom may be the message the NRA
and states like South Dakota may want to send, but is having a gun in the classroom
the right message we want to send our children? While having a firearm for the sole
purpose to protect may be a solution – is it the only one?