Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teachers with guns: More risk than help

Cori Sorensen, a fourth grade teacher from Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearms training with a .357 magnum from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy in West Valley City, Utah, last year.

Associated Press

Cori Sorensen, a fourth grade teacher from Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearms training with a .357 magnum from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy in West Valley City, Utah, last year.

They were quietly determined to beat this thing.

Looking around at what was then a half-empty committee room, the two lawmakers were hopeful they might actually have enough votes to crush this idea of educators coming to school packing guns in the name of safety.

They are both freshmen legislators. Both Democrats. More to the point, Carl Zimmermann of Palm Harbor and Karen Castor Dentel of Maitland are both schoolteachers.

So they were braced for the arguments. They were ready for the evidence. They bided their time as the room grew more crowded.

And when it finally came to a vote, the bill easily passed the K-12 subcommittee by a 10-3 margin on Wednesday.

Zimmermann and Castor Dentel both voted in favor.

"I went into that meeting absolutely, 100 percent certain, that I was going to vote this thing down,'' Zimmermann said a day later. "Karen was sitting next to me, and we were ready to kill it.''

So what changed Zimmermann's mind?

There were several factors, not the least of which is he will get a second chance to assess the bill and propose changes in another education committee this week.

A teacher at Countryside High for 27 years, Zimmermann was also swayed by the argument that rural schools cannot afford to wait the extra minutes it might take for law enforcement to arrive in the case of a mass shooting.

He was encouraged that the bill requires armed personnel to complete a 40-hour weapons course similar to a licensed security guard. And Zimmermann was intrigued by a 2002 joint report done by the Secret Service and Department of Education that suggested most school shootings end as soon as the gunman is confronted.

I would agree those are all valid points. And I would argue they're still not enough.

There is no evidence this would act as a deterrent, particularly since many school shooters plan to end their rampages in suicide anyway.

There are also practical concerns. Using a gun in self-defense is one thing. Actually leaving a classroom to hunt a shooter in another part of the school is completely different.

But, mostly, I worry about unintended consequences.

Just as the NRA argues that gun control legislation is an overreaction to the statistically rare phenomenon of school shootings, I would argue introducing guns on campus is a potentially more dangerous overreaction.

What happens if a teacher is breaking up a fight, and one of the kids grabs a gun from the teacher's holster? What happens if the teacher overreacts and pulls the gun himself?

USF professor Randy Borum, one of the authors of that Secret Service/Department of Education project, said the study focused more on trying to identify potential shooters before they ever arrive. The study does not address arming school personnel, and Borum says it important to balance the potential risks and benefits involved.

"I hope they talk through these things in a sober way before making a decision that is hard to walk back,'' he said. "All it would take is for one kid to get hold of a gun, or a teacher accidentally shooting a student for this whole thing to fall apart.''

No matter what side of the fence you stand on, we all have the same goal in mind.

I just worry that giving guns to teachers is a well-intended mistake.

Teachers with guns: More risk than help 03/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 6:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur

    Blogs

    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.
  2. Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote

    National

    WASHINGTON — In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, talks with his chief of staff Sharon Soderstrom, right, and communications staff director Antonia Ferrier, left, as they walk to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." [Associated Press]
  3. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]
  4. Florida man sits in jail 90 days when drywall powder is mistaken for cocaine (w/video)

    Crime

    OVIEDO — A Florida man spent 90 days in jail after police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine.

    Karlos Cashe spent 90 days in jail after Oviedo police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine. But he walked out of jail last week after lab results determined the powder in the handyman's car was actually drywall. [Photo from video] 

  5. Cal Foote was picked 14th overall by the Lightning in the NHL Draft.