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Primary Education News
News Keep the guns out of my classroom | Ashley Lauren Samsa
Our first reaction shouldn't be to meet violence with violence. This week a Georgia school clerk showed there is another way
As a teacher, this time of year means two things: back to school and plenty of teacher training sessions. One training was on the new technology the school is implementing. Another was on the new curriculum for this year because the national standards have changed.
If I were in Ohio, though, it's entirely possible that I could have been attending summer trainings on how to shoot guns on the run, how to shoot while navigating obstacles like narrow hallways and staircases, and how to anticipate the actions of a killer.
This training isn't just for police anymore. The Buckeye Firearms Association offered this class for teachers who wanted to learn how to effectively use a gun against an intruder to their school. The seminar drew over 1,400 applicants for 24 spots. It seems that teachers in Ohio and in the more than 30 other states which have proposed laws allowing teachers to carry firearms are taking National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre's statement after the awful Newtown shooting to heart:
The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
The sheer number of teachers applying for the Buckeye Firearms Association seminar belies the fact that, when nearly 11,000 teachers were surveyed nationwide a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 72.4% of teachers said that they would not bring a gun to school even if they could. Our nation is divided on this issue, especially after the brutal killing of 20 young children and 6 staff members in Newtown. Many believe teachers should be armed to protect the safety of the children, whether they want to or not.
On Tuesday, however, the world saw a new kind of good guy, one who used compassion rather than violence to stop the bad guy who entered the elementary school where she worked. Antoinette Tuff, a school clerk at the Ronald E McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, saw 20-year-old Brandon Michael Hill enter the school with an assault rifle and several other weapons. Instead of resorting to violence, the school implemented its evacuation procedures and Tuff engaged Hill in a conversation. She told him about her life, her marriage, and her struggles. She also repeatedly told him that he didn't have to die, and that he should surrender.
Hill briefly exchanged gunfire with police officers at the scene, and then he did surrender. No one was hurt, and Tuff is a true hero.
Tuff was not armed with anything but her empathy. She saw a young man who needed help, and she tried to help him before he did harm to anyone in the school. While talking an assailant into surrendering may not always be an option, the fact that Tuff successfully did so is a testament to the fact that violence does not always have to be the first answer and that tragic situations can be resolved without the use of force.
Allowing teachers to carry guns in school will not necessarily make school safer. There is always the possibility of a gun being found by a student and used inappropriately, not to mention the fact that armed teachers who have taken a seminar or two are not trained officers; in a tense situation, they might make a fatal mistake.
We don't need more guns in schools. We need more empathy and compassion. We need to make dealing with mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of would-be criminals our main priorities in order to prevent these tragedies in the first place. Our first reaction shouldn't be to meet violence with violence. Antoinette Tuff showed us it can be done another way, and we need to follow her lead.