Teachers from all over the U.S. have begun a social media campaign using the #ArmMeWith hashtag, suggesting ways the government could support educators other than arming them with guns. (Photo: @Miss_Johnston5/Twitter)
“Teachers, we must as a nation and profession, refuse to be armed. This is not a professional development that we are willing to participate in.”
By Julia Conley / 02.22.2018
As students lead the nation in fighting for stricter gun control legislation, teachers across the country are speaking out against an alternative measure President Donald Trump has suggested to prevent school shootings like the one that took place last week in Parkland, Florida: arming teachers and training them to use firearms.
With the #ArmMeWith social media campaign, educators are calling for the government to provide them with school supplies, books, and other resources instead of spending an estimated $1 billion to train teachers to act as armed guards—while also being responsible for educating the nation’s children.
we live in an america where universal health care is some unicorn but arming teachers is regarded as a policy proposal.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 22, 2018
The president has proposed arming 20 percent of teachers—about 700,000 people. When asked about the practicality and wisdom of the plan on Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters, “When you have a horrific situation like you had last week and other school shootings we’ve seen, these horrible tragedies, what we think and don’t think is practical can change.”
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) pushed back against the notion that the onus to protect students’ lives should be on their teachers, rather than on legislators, who many Americans believe should pass legislation that would prevent school shootings.
“Anyone who suggests this has no real understanding of what goes on in schools, or worse doesn’t care, and is more focused on the needs of gun manufacturers and the NRA than of children,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teacher, told Politico.
“You’re asking the teacher to have the presence of mind to not only do what her instincts compel her to do, but then find her loaded handgun and get in position… and be a good enough shot—in the middle of all of this—so that she can be the marksperson who then maims or kills the intruder with the rifle,” Weingarten continued. “That may work on a movie, but in real life that is not a situation that most people will—even those who have been trained—will be able to do.”
The Violence Policy Center noted that supplying teachers with weapons would likely do little to prevent the loss of life during a shooting—as guns are rarely able to stop a crime that’s already underway.
“Highly trained police officers, whose only job is law enforcement, all too often fail to use firearms successfully,” said the group in a statement. “Trained law enforcement officials have only an average 20 percent hit ratio in armed confrontations, meaning that only 20 percent of shots fired hit the intended target.”