WASHINGTON — A suggestion to arm teachers is back in the spotlight this week in the wake of the Florida high school shooting after President Donald Trump raised the idea Wednesday.
“Am I supposed to get extra training now, to serve and protect on top of educate these children?” Ashley Kurth, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, asked during CNN’s town hall on the debate over guns Wednesday night in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, massacre.
Here’s what some lawmakers, parents and other officials have said in favor and against such a proposal:
Teachers should be armed
• President Donald Trump
“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” Trump said during a listening session Wednesday at the White House with survivors of school shootings and their families.
With this measure, Trump said, teachers would have to take special training and schools would no longer be gun-free zones, saying up to 20% of teachers could be armed to stop “maniacs.”
“A gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us,’ ” he said.
• Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel
Schimel said his office is willing to train teachers, school administrators and even janitors to let them carry guns in schools if “it gets to that point.”
“We will train them,” the Republican told CNN affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee. “We would put those teachers who are willing to do that through scenario training; we will repeat it so they become comfortable it.”
He added, “We recognize that while we cannot stop all bad things from happening, there are steps we can take.”
• Fred Abt, the father of a student who survived the Parkland shooting
At the White House listening session, Abt said there should be firearms locked on school campuses.
“There are plenty of teachers who are already licensed to carry firearms. Have them raise their hands to volunteer for the training, and when something like this starts, the first responders are already on campus.”
He added that teachers and administrators would have to receive training through the year.
• Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow was killed in last week’s shooting.
“If you could find 20% of maybe retired law enforcement officers, or a teacher who could go through discreet training to carry a firearm around his waist, it could’ve been a very different situation,” he said Wednesday while attending the White House event.
• Nik Clark, a parent and gun advocate in Wisconsin.
Clark said teachers would not have to carry guns at all times under such a plan. Instead, firearms would be stored in a lock box that could only be opened by scanning their fingerprints.
“I’d be disappointed if there are not teachers in every school who are willing to go through training,” he told WTMJ.
“The deterrent factor would be huge,” Clark said. “Anyone who wanted to do harm would know that some teachers in the school are armed. When it’s a life-or-death situation, the teacher is the last line of defense.”
• A rural Colorado school district
Board members of the Hanover School District — just outside Colorado Springs — approved a resolution Wednesday that will allow teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.
“I’m for it because we’re a rural school …,” Michael Lawson, the board’s secretary, told KUSA in Denver. “We’re 15 to 30 minutes away from the sheriff’s department. If we have to call 911, a lot can happen in 15 to 30 minutes.”
The district would require anyone wanting to carry a gun to take 24 hours of firearms training, obtain a concealed carry permit from El Paso County and get approval from the school board.
Teachers should not be armed
• Sen. Chris Murphy
Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that arming teachers “is a recipe for disaster.”
“One, you put a whole mess load of guns close to kids that can be used accidentally. Second, you create crossfire that can get a lot of innocent people killed. Third, you make it hard for police responding to figure out who the good guy is and who the bad guy is,” he said.
• Sen. Bill Nelson
The Florida Democrat called arming teachers “a terrible idea,” saying that school staff would likely have access to low-caliber weapons unlike the shooters.
“If the weapon is a high-caliber, rapid-fire assault weapon, it is hard to go into a fight if you’ve got just a handgun. That’s not a fair fight. So, get the assault weapons out,” Nelson said at the CNN town hall Wednesday night.
• School shooting survivor Alfonso Calderon
“Teachers are meant to be educators,” Calderon told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” on Wednesday.
“They’re meant to teach young minds how to work in the real world. They are not meant to know how to carry AR-15s. They are not meant to know how to put on Kevlar vests for the other students or themselves,” the 16-year-old said.
• Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel
The Parkland school is in Broward County, and Israel ordered his deputies to begin carrying rifles on school grounds Wednesday. But he is against ordering a similar measure for educators.
“I don’t believe teachers should be armed, I believe teachers should teach,” the sheriff said at Wednesday’s town hall. “But that’s exactly what’s wrong with this country. We have people in Washington, D.C., representatives, senators and legislators telling teachers what they should do without asking teachers, ‘What do you want to do?’ ”
• National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
The leader of the teachers union said bringing more guns into schools would not make them safer.
“Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” she said in a statement. “Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff.”
• David Benke, a retired math teacher
Benke said the solution to the problem isn’t as simple as giving educators guns.
“Let’s say you’re an armed teacher, and 90% of the time you’re going to be in your classroom with your kids. Something happens. Do you then leave your kids and go bad guy hunting? Pretty bad ethical dilemma to put somebody in,” said Benke, who helped restrain an active shooter at a Colorado middle school in 2010.
“I would rather have a school resource officer — usually they’re a sheriff’s officer — in every school,” he said.