In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, many in the GOP are advocating for state legislatures to arm teachers. On the day of the shooting, Oregon State Rep. Dennis Richardson sent the email below to several superintendents in his district,
If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide.
When will our school officials open their eyes to the reality that law enforcement officers, in such instances as these, can respond only after the unfettered killings have occurred, and that our children’s safety depends on having a number of well-trained school employees on every campus who are prepared to defend our children and save their lives?
In the days that followed this email, the Michigan legislature approved a bill “that would have allowed concealed weapons in schools, day care centers and select other public areas” (Huffington Post). Luckily this bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Unfortunately, Richardson’s email and the actions of the Michigan legislature represent just a fraction of the GOP’s national case of hysteria.
The problem with this Cold War arms race mentality is that it conceives America’s schools as battle fields: a place where our defenseless students, staff, teachers, and administrators spend their days helplessly waiting for a monster to barge in and rain down holy hell. The reality, however, is much closer to a suicide.
Columbine and Newtown are examples of Americans, killing Americans, on American soil: America turning on itself. And as in other cases of suicide, the root problem cannot be solved by adding more guns to the room. Instead, our nation needs to seriously take on the causes of this epidemic in order to create long term solutions.
School shootings are not a necessary reality that the nation’s educators must be ready for. It is not by chance that America leads the developed world in these tragedies.
Newtown marks the 30th mass shooting since Columbine. It is time for America to reassess its partisan approach to gun control laws and for the GOP to end its more guns equal more safety campaign. I hope that both parties can use this opportunity to seek lasting changes, to make America a nation where it is easier to access proper mental health services than a handgun, a place where parents can drop their kids off at school without fearing it may be the last time they see their child.