Don’t ask our teachers to be law enforcment
This is an open letter to Gov. Henry McMaster:
I’m writing to share how upset I am with your recent statement saying that you would support a bill that would allow teachers in South Carolina schools to be armed. As a parent of 3 current and prior students of public schools in SC, I feel that this is a terrible solution to the current crisis of gun murders in our schools. A better solution is to make it illegal to own semi-automatic weapons, which are designed for nothing other than killing many people in a short period of time.
Our children do not deserve to go to school in buildings that look and feel like prisons, and arming our teachers will not solve the problem of school shootings. I’m sure you’ve heard that the sheriff’s deputy at the high school in Parkland hid outside and did nothing to protect the students in the panic and chaos of that day. Police officers undergo extensive training to deal with their instinctive reactions of fear in a crisis situation, and yet this deputy was still was unable to do the job he was hired to do – protect the children. Yet you expect our teachers, with a few hours of training, to be able to pick up a gun in a crisis situation, go up against someone who has a military-style weapon, and defend our students?
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Putting guns in the classrooms creates so many concerns for our South Carolina teachers, and I’ve had several share them with me. Could carrying a weapon make them a primary target for shooters? If an incident happens outside their room, do they leave their students unattended to go defend others? If they witness something that appears threatening, and in a split-second decision they choose to take a shot that is unjustified, what are the disciplinary ramifications? What procedures would be put in place to prevent students from obtaining the guns through force or theft? Where will the money come from for weapons and weapons training, when funding for our schools is already sadly inadequate?
As one of my teacher friends says, “I signed up for this job knowing I would need to play a lot of roles. At certain times in addition to being a teacher, I would need to also be a mentor, a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, a drill sergeant, a comedian, and even a parent. But never would I have thought that I would be asked to be a SWAT team member. I know how to love kids. I know how to teach kids. But no amount of training will teach me how to kill.”
History will not look back kindly on those who attempted to put guns in classrooms. Which side of history will you be on? The majority of Americans believe in sensible gun legislation that doesn’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners. Several recent polls show that 90% of Americans (and 74% of NRA members) support background checks for all gun sales including private and gun show sales. If legislation to arm our teachers arrives on your desk, I hope that you will listen to the voices of all of your constituents, not just our many legislators who receive money from the NRA. Instead, please support sensible gun legislation like Rep. Wendy Brawley’s bill H.4975 to ban the sale, use and possession of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks in South Carolina.
Don’t ask our teachers to learn to be killers, and do your job to protect our children.