Oprah… I Love You… But We Need To Talk…

Sadly, gun violence in America has perpetrated our lives and our schools, to the point where students and parents all hope that the next news tragedy isn’t their own.

Since 2013, my North Texas high school has had teachers carrying weapons. I say that statement, but I don’t want you to stop reading there and miss the details and motivations behind this. I went to a very small high school with almost 400 students situated in an equally small town of only a couple thousand. For any of you who may not be familiar with southern country life, guns are something so engrained in the lifestyle that people scarcely think twice about it.

In small country towns, it’s hard to meet someone who does not hunt regularly, or is at least fairly confident in handling a gun, and it is this influence that must be considered in my old high school’s decision. To this day, I have no idea which teachers carried guns, and if I ever was taught by one carrying a weapon. This information was kept completely secret from even other teachers. The teachers are required to keep the weapons on themselves or locked up at all times.

Personally, I don’t think this was the worst thing, especially in the town and the culture that I grew up in. However, as I think of my friends who are currently studying to be teachers from large suburban towns and the thought of them having to teach under these same circumstances, I can’t help but think that what is a satisfactory system at one school may not work universally.

We live in a terrible, broken world, and that’s the simple reality of it. It’s heartbreaking, but a side-effect of today’s society is the fact that we are in constant danger of violence every time we walk out the door. I weep alongside with the rest of America and the world as we saw yet another horrifying example of the worst in humanity in the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

I also agree with those saying it is time to stop sending thoughts and prayers and to start doing something about it. I do, however, question the idea of putting weapons into the hands of educators in schools across the nation. Yes, it worked in one tiny school in a tiny town in Texas, but I personally think of my school as an exception rather than an example of a solution.

Honestly, I am upset that it has come to a time where teachers, who are supposed to be focusing on ways to better prepare students for college and the real world, are instead having to consider the idea of carrying a gun on them while trying to teach long division.

Some teachers are in favor of carrying guns, one telling Fox News,

“If I can save the life of just one student then I think it’s worth carrying a gun.”

I can definitely see the reasoning behind this, but according to the Huffington Post, there is not yet enough data to determine if the presence of teachers carrying guns or even placing security guards in schools can decrease the probabilities of a shooting. In fact, the article points out the negative side effects of implementing the latter, such as a proven increase in the amount of arrests or involvement of local police for minor offenses such as vandalism or fighting.

I know and I believe that actions need to be taken to stop the epidemic of school shootings, but I also urge everyone to take a moment, catch a breath, and think of the long-term consequences to hurriedly changing laws and shaking things up. I would go a step further and say that it’s hard for me to see the good of putting more guns into the picture.

I’m currently going to school to be a teacher someday and as a future educator, I personally do not know if I could see myself being able to carry a gun every day to school in the event I might have to use it on someone. Yes, I understand that the world has changed and students must go to school fearing their lives every single day.

But the job of teachers is to educate, to discipline and sometimes, to protect, but I daresay teachers can do this without carrying a weapon. Teachers can defend themselves and their students by being aware of each and every student, and in not necessarily profiling students that they think might be a school shooter, but in looking for students who look left out or like they may be going through a lot outside of the classroom.

Why don’t we bring changes to our schools by focusing on things they are already expected to be doing? Why don’t we turn to teachers, the ones who undoubtedly know better than anyone what is going to actually work inside a classroom?

This latest tragedy in Florida has created a lot of momentum with a lot of people sick and tired of a new “pray for…” hashtag every week, and I don’t want to do anything to stand in the way of that. I agree it is time for change. But I beg of all of us for the sake of our children and of the generations to come to remember that the actions we take and laws we pass create just as many repercussions as a kid pulling the trigger.