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Trump's awful plan to arm teachers is straight from the NRA playbook:
James Alan Fox, Opinion columnist Published 5:00 a.m. ET Feb. 23, 2018 |
Updated 12:44 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2018
President Donald Trump said Friday if teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School in Parkland, Florida had been able to carry concealed weapons,
they "would have shot the hell out of (the gunman) before he knew what
Trump's embrace of 'scholastic carry' is a recycled NRA
talking point from 2012. And it's still a really bad idea.
Trump deserves credit for agreeing to meet with a delegation of frustrated
and emotional survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School in Parkland, Fla. Given his all too cozy and politically
motivated alliance with the National Rifle Association, he was caught
between the students' demands for tighter gun restrictions and his
supporters' concern about sliding down the slippery slope of Second
At the end of the "listening session," Trump
followed the NRA playbook. He offered up the gun lobby's rather minor
concessions banning bump stocks and maybe raising the legal age for
purchasing a high-powered weapon of mass murder destruction from 18 to 21.
You could probably count on one hand the total number of mass killings over
the past three decades that those changes might have affected.
Still, these are beneficial baby steps that can hopefully be embraced by
lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including those in the GOP (which should be
renamed the "Gun Owners Party").
Not so palatable, and that's putting
it mildly, is Trump's suggestion that we arm as many as 20% of our nation's
school teachers concealed carry for educators. Supporters of
firearms-for-faculty maintain that ever since the early 1990s, when Congress
established schools as gun-free zones, an armed assailant, be it a
student-insider or a stranger-intruder, could be assured of facing little or
no opposition. Maybe Johnny wouldn't be so quick to bring a loaded gun to
school if he knew that teachers and administrators were packing heat.
However, rather than a deterrent for someone who himself may be prepared
to die, this could actually be an incentive. Johnny, long feeling obscure
and disrespected, might believe he could become a big man on campus by
shooting it out with the deputy principal at high noon in the school
Trump has shown a tendency to think that many of his
borrowed ideas and pronouncements are original. But in this case, as with
bump stocks and raising the legal gun purchase age, he is simply promoting
the NRA agenda. Just days after the December 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting,
the powerful gun group announced its interest in funding a National School
Shield Program, an effort to provide every school in America with armed
guards, including retired police officers and trained volunteers. Although
the NRA failed to see its dream fulfilled, several states have in recent
years enacted bills to allow licensed teachers to keep their weapons locked
and loaded while at school.
Trump's off-base idea raises several
important questions about "scholastic carry."
What level of training
is sufficient so that we can trust a teacher's judgment and accuracy when
suddenly confronted with a calm and heavily armed assailant? And exactly
what type of guns would be permitted for the faculty that could compete
against an intruder wielding a high-powered assault rifle and toting enough
ammunition to turn the school corridor into a shooting gallery?
would the guns be kept to give teachers timely access if a gunman stormed
into the classroom? Should they be in the teacher's desk drawer? Must
they be smart guns to prevent them from being used by some angry student?
Could we count on teachers to be more responsive than the armed deputy at
the Parkland shooting who stayed outside instead of trying to stop the
Rather than equipping schools with armed guards, be they
volunteer marksmen or teachers with a passion for guns, maybe Trump would
like to propose that big, beautiful walls be erected around the perimeter of
every school. That would cost billions, but maybe Trump could convince
Mexico to foot the bill.
I'm not serious, of course. But I also
can't take seriously the idea of turning educators into executioners.
For teachers, marksmanship should be about A's and B's. Not guns and
James Alan Fox is the Lipman
Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University
and a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors. He is co-author of
Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder. Follow him on