In response to the Parkland school shooting last month, a handful of Florida legislators recently approved two bills that would set aside tens of millions of dollars to train teachers to carry firearms. The legislation echoes calls from President Trump and others for schools to arm teachers as a solution to prevent more campus massacres from happening. “We have to let the bad guy know that they are hardened,” Trump said at a White House meeting last week, suggesting that schools give bonuses to teachers who carry guns.
But these efforts to create warriors out of teachers as a means of addressing school shootings are wrongheaded. I used to be in the Marines, and now I'm a classroom teacher. From these experiences, there is one thing I know to be true: Responding effectively to an active-shooter situation is one of the toughest challenges for a marksman out there. To train teachers for this role would be an enormous task—and policymakers who think otherwise aren’t being realistic.
By the time I completed boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island—and stood ready to pin the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor to my lapel—I came to realize: There’s no such thing as a Rambo. Teamwork was the essence of mission success in the Marine Corps. We were trained from the very beginning to understand that each unit we were in was only as strong as our weakest link. If one recruit failed at a task, we were collectively punished with a brutal circuit of push-ups, jumping jacks, and burpees, incentivizing us to figure out how to work together more efficiently and to hold each other accountable. These games in boot camp were always miserable, but in retrospect, I realize that they formed in us a group mindset that allowed us to react to events instinctively, to operate under stress, and to ultimately function as a well-formed team.