What Teachers Are Trying to Tell Us About Guns in Schools

No matter what Obama says about putting armed police officers in schools, the NRA keeps criticizing him. Lost in all that shouting are the voices of people who'll actually work in such schools — the teachers.

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No matter what Obama says about putting armed police officers in schools, the NRA keeps on criticizing him. The President announced 23 executive orders aimed at limiting gun violence today, even offering to fund armed police officers for schools that request them. But that still wasn't enough to meet the NRA's demands for more guns in schools, and the pro-gun group accused him of "ignoring children." Lost in all that shouting are the voices of people who'll actually work in such schools—the teachers. Like all Americans, teachers remain divided on this issue to a certain extent. The biggest teacher's union, the National Education Association, fully supported Obama's proposals today, but some teachers still want schools to remain gun-free zones and others want their own license to pack heat in the classroom.

Testifying in Congress today, Newtown Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson urged members of Congress to ban semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines, following a petition started by a local fourth grader named Ava. "This will prevent other communities from suffering like we are in Newtown," the young girl wrote. But Robinson also said that her community does want armed police in schools for the time being.

Other teachers aren't so sure about putting guns in schools under any situation. "Adding more guns to schools in an effort to stem the tide of violence that is overwhelming this country is madness," writes Randy Turner, an english teacher at East Middle School in Joplin, Missouri. Reaching out to local teachers for their thoughts on the issue, a small Pennsylvania newspaper got this response from a retired music teacher. "I think it's a horrible idea ... I worry about responding to violence with violence." Then, of course, there are those teachers who want to carry guns themselves. Last week in Texas and Ohio, over 1,300 educators attended three-day gun training sessions put on by the Buckeye Firearms Association. One of the instructors, Josh Felker, says that teachers come to him to learn how to obtain a concealed carry permit because "They are upset at what happened, and no one is going to hurt their kids. One teacher said flat out, 'I don't care if the law changes or not, I'm going to take it to school.' Most of them just want to protect their kids."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.