Letter to the editor: Don’t arm teachers

To the editor:

On March 27, I attended the Kansas House Insurance Committee hearing on HB 2789, which proposes arming teachers to protect students and staff from active shooters. I listened attentively to the testimony of the proponents and the opposition to this bill. Since the hearing, I have been going through over 100 written statements by opponents to this legislation. They come from all over Kansas. They are parents, grandparents, teachers and students who are deeply opposed to this proposal. I was one of those who submitted such testimony.

As an educator, I oppose this effort to turn teachers into a militia or paramilitary force inside a classroom. Those who teach take on the task of educating children and young people. Successful teachers build a bond of trust with their students. This bond is the foundation for learning. An armed teacher undermines such a bond. Arming teachers would makes it easier for disputes to quickly escalate into something worse, maybe even death of school children. Research has shown that having more guns in a place translates to more gun violence, not less. The Heller decision explicitly interprets the Second Amendment as forbidding the possession of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools. No one decides to become a teacher to serve as an armed guard in his or her classroom. Teachers focus on the futures of their students. Conscripting them as armed guards undermines their chief task: inspiring students to continue their education. First responders in case of an active shooter should be professional police officers.