Arming teachers might help

Guns on display at a store in Maine. (Beth Criado-Band/YJI)

SINGAPORE – Carnage ripped through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student gunned down 17 students and faculty with an AR-15 style assault rifle.

A debate surrounding gun control immediately erupted in the aftermath of this tragedy – which is widely considered one of the nation’s worst.

As a person who leans left, I, unsurprisingly, back policies calling for the ban of the sale of assault rifles and for more extensive background checks for potential buyers.

After all, who in their right sense will ever need an assault rifle? And, anyone not in their right state of mind should never be able to get hold of a gun.

However, having said that, I find President Trump’s speech calling for teachers to be armed, which many in the left have quickly dismissed, to be equally wise.

I know that a complete ban on sales of assault rifles and greater background checks on gun buyers will prevent individuals with malice from procuring such weapons of carnage, which will, in turn, curb the number of mass shootings.

However, many in this discourse of gun ownership and safety who have dismissed Trump’s plans have assumed a factor which is not true in numerous cases: that all guns used in mass-shootouts are brand new weapons acquired by the shooter himself.

Almost next to no discussions are held on what to do with arms, particularly assault rifles that are already in circulation. History has more than shown us that many mass shooters acquire guns not from stores, but from loved ones who have already bought such weapons.

Adam Lanza, the shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2014, gunned down 26 elementary school-goers and staff, as well as his own mother, Nancy Lanza. Surely, Lanza, who, according to journalism website Politico, was diagnosed with autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder six years before the shooting, would not have been able to acquire his gun had there have been more extensive background checks.

However, he did not acquire guns from an arms-shop. Instead, he took his mom’s rifle and killed her before driving to the elementary school and pointing the barrel of his gun at dozens of children. The calls today for a ban on the sales of assault-riffles or greater background scrutiny would not have stopped him.

Instead, had some of the staff of Sandy Hook, or in this case, the high school in Parkland, Florida been armed, definitely at least one would have risen to the challenge and engaged with the shooter.

While I support the calls rallying lawmakers to ban the sales of assault rifles as well as introduce mandatory background screening of all buyers, I also back the president’s appeal to arm staff at educational institutions.

Unless a plan is in place to deal with arms already in circulation like those currently on the table for brand new ones, there is always a possibility of another Parkland. That is why I favor requiring staff at schools to be armed.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan is a Correspondent for Youth Journalism International.

Want to read more? Here are the voices of YJI students worldwide since the Parkland, Florida mass shooting.

We were fine until the fire alarm went off, By Christine O’Hara, Alexandria, Virginia, USA, March 10, 2018

Gun violence is not about one nation, but human lives, By Amber Shakil, Lahore, Pakistan, March 8, 2018

Shootings: Florida students can lead us from apathy, By Garret Reich, Glenwood, Iowa, USA, March 8, 2018

Why won’t Americans put an end to mass shootings? By Alyce Collett, Melbourne, Australia, March 5, 2018

Students deserve respect, not punishment, for walkout, by Luke Ashworth, Bristol, Connecticut, USA, March 5, 2018

Millenials take aim at guns, by Sean Monteith, Lewiston, Maine, USA, March 4, 2018

I want to be a teacher, but I won’t carry a gun, By Sydney Hallett, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Feb. 27, 2018

Parkland echoes the massacre that ended UK school shootings, By Owen Ferguson, Doune, Scotland, UK, Feb. 23, 2018