Armed to Teach


Richard Carriker, Section Editor

Harry and Sally sit next to each other, giggling at jokes and thinking of what to play at recess. Their eyes drift out the windows to the world beyond, hoping that play time comes quickly. A voice comes over the intercom, “Lock down, Lock down!” The kids are pushed into the back corner, praying that the gunman won’t find them. They see the sun shining outside the window, but the room has turned cold. Wham…wham… wham. The door shakes as the assailants try to get in. A muffled cry is heard, all thoughts of play are long gone. The door gives.

This scenario has terrified the school community even before the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and continues to persist to this day with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary located in Monroe, Connecticut. With this latest tragedy, the question has come back to the surface: what can be done to protect the children in school? There is no easy answer to this question, but many suggestions have been presented, among them being the arming of teachers on school premises. The idea behind this is that select teachers who have undergone weapons training and are licensed to conceal and carry will be allowed to have a firearm on their person or within the classroom in case of an assailant entering the building.

This proposition has sparked much controversy in the public eye. Some feel that it would be an effective deterrent to any would be attacker, while others suggest that it would only offer students better accessibility to firearms. When asked of the Woodland Park High School populace whether they would prefer to have an armed guard, teacher with concealed weapons or other security measures, the majority opinion amongst both school staff and students was to have an armed guard patrolling the building, not to have teachers armed. As for other security options, many said things such as metal detectors in the entrances and possible random locker searches. Many points have arisen as the shootings in the news rose and even the teachers are divided in where they stand. Several say that they believe they could not pull the trigger should the need arise while a seldom few have said it would make them feel better knowing that they could defend their students and themselves if there was need. When asked about guns in schools during an interview a student commented, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable learning from a teacher who may or may not be carrying a weapon.” This was echoed by many students, but not all chose this view. “I feel safer knowing that if someone was trying to kill me, that a teacher could step forward and put an end to it.” said one student in response to the question of guns in schools.

Another issue for schools is the security measures taken in schools to stop this kind of tragedy from occurring. As stated by Mrs. Wolken, the current principal of Columbine elementary, “A school is not designed to stop people from entering.” She pointed out that while security measures would be good, schools themselves were never designed to keep people out, but rather to be an inviting place designed to entice children to come in and enjoy themselves. To put it simply, as all the administrators did, a teacher’s job is to teach. This does not mean that no security measures have been taken to help prevent a situation from occurring. From an officer patrolling, to locked doors, to checking of all people coming into the building, many steps have been taken and the levels of control have increased with each shooting in the news.

The scenario has now become Harry and Sally sitting in their class, waiting for the bell to ring for recess. Outside, a car sits running out side. A man steps out of his car, a duffle bag in hand, a trench coat covering him. He enters the building by force and pulls out his weaponry. A shot rings out. The gun man falls. Who shot him? The teacher or a guard?