Firearms on School Property - Helpful Or Harmful?

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Roughly one thousand years ago, one of the most controversial products today was made-- the gun. The first recorded use of gunpowder was in China, in the ninth century. Chinese alchemists created a mixture of charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur called “Huo Yao”. This mixture was primarily used for the treatment of various skin infections but later gained wide popularity by armies that learned it was great for making weapons like bombs and mines. The first actual gun, according to historians, was created in the tenth century. This gun was made with either bamboo or metal tubes that threw fire or shrapnel at the desired target (“Who Invented the First Gun? ” science. howstuffworks. com). Guns have advanced tremendously since the tenth century and are arguably one of the most debatable topics today. Many argue that the debate on gun control was initiated after former president John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 (“See a Timeline of Gun Control in the U. S. from 1791 to the Present. ” www. thoughtco. com). Soon after this tragedy, the government released evidence that sparked the public’s awareness of the lack of gun control across the nation. The topic of gun control versus gun rights is extremely important because it affects everyone.

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Although opinions vary from person to person, it is important to discuss and share about certain topics that affect the entire nation. Gun control, as well as gun rights specifically within schools, are a highly debated topic within politics today. One of the most well known gun-rights organizations is the NRA. The NRA (The National Rifle Association) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1871 by Union veterans William C. Church and George Wingate. This organization aims to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” (www. nra. com). A widely popular gun-control organization is the Brady Campaign. This campaign is an advocate for gun control and is against gun violence. Founded in 1974, the Brady Campaign’s initial goal is to reduce the number of deaths from gun violence.

Organizations like the NRA and the Brady Campaign have long fought over the issues about gun control and gun rights. Pro-gun control organizations, such as the Brady Campaign, believe that guns should not be in schools because educators feel that they would be a distraction in the classroom, the firearms within the classroom could wind up in the wrong hands and the jobs of first responders could be significantly harder. On the other hand, gun rights organizations, like the National Rifle Association, state that armed staff could discourage shooters from potentially firing a gun, could react faster than police to a shooter, and could better protect their students with guns than without. The main goal of the Brady Campaign is to save lives and eventually cut the number of gun deaths in half by the year 2025. To reach this goal, the campaign has invented a three-point process that includes: requiring a background check for all citizens that purchase a gun, preventing gun dealers from selling “crime guns”, and informing and changing society’s view on the incorrect use of guns (“Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. ” www. bradycampaign. org). The first point, requiring a background check for those purchasing a gun, makes the process of buying a firearm more strenuous in order to ensure the person is informed and can be trusted in possession of it. Their second point is to make stricter policies for gun dealers since about 90 percent of “crime guns” are purchased from the five percent of gun dealers that sell them. Lastly, informing society and shifting the view towards the misleading use of guns could be proven beneficial by stating the facts and evidence of the harmful utilization of guns. These steps could not only affect the nation but specifically schools as well.

These steps could, according to the Brady Campaign, eventually lead to the prevention of mass shootings within schools, therefore reducing the need of instructors carrying guns. The use of guns within schools could be a distraction, according to the president of the National Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, because “Teachers don't want to be armed, we want to teach. We don't want to be, and would never have the expertise to be, sharpshooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15” (www. citylab. com). In other words, Weingarten believes that if guns were instituted within schools, educators would feel distracted from their work, and focus on the firearm in their desk. Having a firearm could put someone in the mindset where they are constantly thinking about it. Educators no longer have their full attention on teaching, but rather on something else. This type of mindset might be understandable for people whose job it is to carry a weapon and worry about potential threats (soldiers, law enforcement officers, security officers. . . etc).

Although, this mindset is not as necessary for people whose job is to educate their pupils. In contrast, the NRA believes that armed instructors will discourage shooters from attacking schools. Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive director of the NRA says, “Our banks, our airports, our NBA games, our NFL games, our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians — they're all more protected than our children at school, we surround and protect so much with armed security, while we drop our kids off at schools that are so-called ‘gun-free’ zones” (www. triblive. com). LaPierre is hinting at the idea that we heavily arm buildings and places that have hundreds of people within them. We heavily arm the places and people who are believed to be important. Although, we don't do this with schools, places that hold the most important citizens in America, children. An example of this is in 1966, at the University of Texas. Seventeen people were killed, but the shooter was stopped from potentially killing numerous others, by civilians and police. Some civilians grabbed guns from their cars and starting shooting at the intruder, hoping to stop him from doing more damage. The police and the civilians together helped stop the shooter. Those who open fire on schools tend to know that they are not as armed as other places. According to the Department of Education, about 19 percent of public high schools are guarded by law enforcement officers during typical school hours. Schools that are patrolled by officers part-time is eight percent.

Although, about ten percent of middle schools are patrolled during normal school hours and eight percent are guarded part-time (“How Many Schools Have Armed Guards? ” https: //www. theatlantic. com). This means that about 71 percent of schools don’t have armed security in the attempt of a shooting. Since shooters are searching for ‘easy targets’ that have weak security and aren’t as heavily armed as other places, schools are the best option. School shooters, because they walk into a ‘gun-free’ zone, know that they will be able to continue shooting until law enforcement arrives and stops them. If this were not the case, according to pro-gun-rights activists, the shooter could be stopped by teachers sooner. The second argument pro-gun-control organizations make is that giving instructors firearms could result in them getting into the hands of children. Children, by nature, are curious, but this curiosity could result in them obtaining a gun from a teacher's desk and firing it off. Robert Conroy, the organization director for CeaseFire AP, (a pro-gun-control organization) says that “Almost any two students could figure out a way to get a gun away from a teacher, one distracts them and the other sneaks or wrestles the gun off of them” (“Arming Teachers: Pros and Cons. ” https//triblive. com). In other words, if firearms are not properly locked and secured, students could easily come in contact with them and potentially harm themselves, or others. The second a teacher turns their back, a gun could be in the hands of a child. One organization, Everytown For Gun Safety, says that the increasing presence of firearms increases the threat to children.

According to a recent study, a vast majority of adolescents know where their parents keep their firearms. Out of the majority, around one third have reported using their parent’s guns and 40 percent of them, without the parents’ knowledge. The possibility of death by suicide triples and the possibility of death by homicide doubles when a gun is within access around adolescents (“Arming Teachers Is a Dangerous Proposal” https: //everytownresearch. org). These statistics, if guns were introduced in schools, could show similarities. In contrast, the NRA believes that armed staff on the school campus could react to a shooter much faster than the police could. For instance, since some schools in rural areas are farther away from the police, it could take longer for them to arrive at the scene. Having educators armed could increase the time students have to hide as well as stall the shooter. Steve Anderson, the superintendent of Lake Hamilton School says, “While we are blessed to have excellent law enforcement officers… because of where we're located, the last two sheriffs here in Garland County told me we could expect 20 to 30 minutes wait time if an active shooter situation happened on campus before an officer could be here” (“Should Teachers Carry Guns? The Debate, Explained. ” www. edweek. org). In 2013, a law in South Dakota was passed that allowed educators to carry guns in schools. Since then, a “School Sentinel Program” was created by two schools districts that allowed school employees, security guards and volunteers to be armed.

The School Sentinel Program is a Law Enforcement Training that provides education and training for approved employees, guards and volunteers of the school. This program consists of a minimum of 80 hours of training on “Firearms proficiency, Use of force, Legal aspects, Weapons retentionIdentifying protocol for identifying sentinels, and First Aid” (“School Sentinel Training Program” https: //atg. sd. gov). Although the school staff trust that the police, they are simply farther away than the on-site staff. The Northwestern Area School District superintendent, Ryan Bruns says “We're (the school district) over 20 minutes from any police force being able to respond to an event, so with that in mind is one of the reasons why we decided to move forward. ” Before being able to carry a firearm within the school zone, the “School Sentinels” are required to go through the School Sentinel Program and passed by the school board and law enforcement agency (“These Schools Say Arming Teacher ‘Can Be Done Right’” www. cnn. com). Another point pro-gun-control organizations argue is that the jobs of first responders could be significantly harder. For example, if educators were in the position to fire a gun at a shooter, first responders would have a harder time determining whose gunshots are from the enemy and whose are from the ally.

The executive director of the National for School Resource Officers, Mo Canady says “Discharging a firearm in a crowded school is an extremely risky action, with consequences that can include the wounding and/or death of innocent victims. Law enforcement officers receive training and practice in evaluating quickly the risks of firing. They hold their fire when the risks to others are too high. ” (“Arming Teachers: Pros and Cons” https: //triblive. com). First responders want to aid in the attempt of a shooting but if they don’t know where or who the shooting is coming from, it will be harder to react. Canady argues that unlike instructors, law enforcement officers are specifically trained in the attempt of a shooting. Teacher also, while attempting to stop an intruder may accidentally shoot a student and wounding them or potentially killing them. Educators, according to pro-gun-control activists, may never get the amount of training necessary to be able to handle a gun the way law enforcement officers do.

Educators are ultimately responsible for every bullet they shoot. If one bullet were to wound another person or even kill them, it would be their fault and they would have to face the consequences. The final point the NRA makes about teachers carrying guns in schools is that guns can protect faculty and students better than without. After the Parkland shooting, evidence was released that pointed to the fact that the on-campus policeman did not enter the building when the shooter was inside. According to the NRA, if educators were armed, there would be more people to stop them. Another reason instructors could better protect their students is that numerous schools have vast campuses, making it harder for the law enforcement officers to go to the direct place the shooter is at. LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA said, “We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses, even sports stadiums, are all protected by armed security. We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress works in offices surrounded by Capitol police officers, yet when it comes to our most beloved innocent and vulnerable members of the American family -- our children -- we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless” (“NRA: Guns in Schools Would Protect Students” CBS News 2).

In other words, LaPierre is saying that in order to better protect students, we need to allow instructors to carry guns. In refutation to this claim, Lily Garcia, NEA president claims that putting more guns into the equation does not affect the protection of its students. Garcia says that more money needs to be spent on “more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms” (“Arming Teachers is Not the Answer” neatoday. com).

In conclusion, firearms have come a long way since their creation in the tenth century. The unfortunate situations America has been put through revolving around guns has shaped the way we think about them today. School shootings, unfortunately, are not uncommon. As a result of this, precautions have to be made. Organizations like the Brady Campaign and the NRA constantly fight over who is correct and who has the better solution to school shootings. Although America can never be a perfect country, its’ citizens can strive to make it better.

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