Fighting fire with firearms

Brian Anderson/Contributing Writer

In light of the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut—and other shootings
in Colorado, Arizona and Texas there have been changes initiated in gun laws, legislation
and rules for the purchasing of firearms and ammunition.

Other issues have prevailed.

A New York newspaper, The Journal News, was highly criticized for publishing names and
addresses of gun owners.

Some view this as a necessity. Others view it as a violation of the Second Amendment as well as a violation of their privacy.

But when your actions begin to infringe on the freedoms and safety of others, it becomes a problem.

Another issue of grave concern related to gun control is the issue of whether or not
to allow teachers the privilege of carrying firearms in schools. Again, the opinions
on this vary greatly.

According to M. Alex Johnson, a contributor to NBC Nightly News, more than one-third of states already allow teachers to carry guns in school without approval from law enforcement. More specifically—of all 50 states, 18 have such legislation in place. Among these states are Texas, California, New York, New Jersey and Wyoming. At times, all that’s needed is a note from the principal or an administrator.

Though Florida is not included on this list, it is among the states considering such laws.

There seems to be a conflict of interest. The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prevents anyone from having a firearm in a school zone. Yet, this doesn’t apply if the weapons are “approved by a school in the school zone.”

However, there are those who vehemently oppose such legislation and would do
anything to curb the passage of such laws.

Mahmoud Diallo, environmental health graduate student, disagrees with the concept. “The problem with gun control will not be solved by giving teachers access to guns.”

According to Diallo, stricter laws and background checks are needed before any real change can take place.

Diallo is not the only one who shares this perspective. According to a recent poll by the Connecticut Education Association, of 400 teachers, only 3 percent of educators favored arming teachers with guns, while 85 percent opposed. Within the same study, 98 percent of educators favored extensive criminal and mental health background checks for all gun purchases.

This debate prompts one to ask—what kind of country have we become when we
are even considering arming teachers with guns for the protection of pupils?

Just a generation ago, the only mention of guns in schools was for police to escort and protect students of different ethnicities on school grounds. Now, must teachers be stressed
with this additional responsibility?

Simply arming instructors with guns will not address the crux of the problem.

“Training teachers in ammunition [gun] use is not a solution to the problem at hand,” said Martha Barantovich, professor in the College of Education. “There are plenty of teachers that already have training and know how to properly use guns.”

According to Barantovich, there needs to be a collective, thoughtful discussion on how to address the many issues that are present in our society that led up to the massacre of children.

This is not a simple question and does not have a simple answer.

“Let’s increase the background checks, counseling to students, etc. along with banning assault weapons,” said Associate Professor Janvier Gasana in the FIU School of Public Health.

In addition to the stricter gun laws alluded to before, it starts with the children at home.

What is the underlying cause of these children becoming violent? Does it stem from violent
media exposure? Playing violent video games? Do these children have behavioral
problems or come from violent/broken homes? Perhaps proper counseling would
suffice.

What is certain is that arming teachers will not solve the problem. We cannot combat violence with violence. It must begin with compassion.