In order to get into some of the most dangerous urban high schools in Michigan, students must first pass through a metal detector. The last thing administrators want is for guns, knives or other weapons to get into the educational environment.
This is why schools across the United States have been declared gun-free zones. Currently, only law enforcement officials are legally allowed to carry firearms into a school zone. The hope is that the fewer guns getting into schools, the better off students will be.
If a Michigan lawmaker has his way, there will soon be exceptions to these rules.
Rep. Dave Agema introduced a bill into the Michigan House of Representatives that would allow teachers, administrators and staff to carry concealed pistols onto school grounds as long as it is permitted by their respective principal. Parents and legal guardians who possess gun permits would also be allowed to carry firearms on school property.
The politician’s proposal is meant to deter the school shootings that have dominated the media in the past decade, as well as to preemptively prepare for what would happen if terrorists started attacking academic institutions.
“What motivated me to do this was a form of disaster preparedness,” Agema said in defense of his bill, according to ABC News. “To me, it’s about safety for kids first. I just think we have to have something like this if something starts happening with al Qaeda.”
Past the nervous jokes about professors firing warning shots to get a student’s attention in the middle of a lecture, or shooting down paper airplanes in midflight, there is something deeply disturbing about this proposal.
To have teachers who are packing heat would be taking a step that even correctional facilities have been reluctant to take. Most prisons do not allow firearms on their floors. The logic behind such a ban is the same logic than needs to be applied to this proposal.
Charles Fenton, a retired warden and frequent expert for departments of corrections, explained this logic in Madrid v. Gomez, a California court case centered on improving prison conditions.
“The use of firearms within prison walls increases, rather than decreases the risk of serious injury to both inmates and staff,” Fenton said.
Whenever more weapons are brought into the equation, it is likely that those weapons could fall into the wrong hands.
Pete Pochowski, a director of school safety for the Milwaukee Public School system, addressed this point in an ABC article when similar legislation was proposed in Wisconsin.
“These high school students are bigger than they’ve ever been,” he said. “We’ve seen them take guns from police officers who are trained in how to retain that weapon.”
It is for this reason that the goal has always been to ban guns inside of schools. This proposal to increase their presence will only lead to increasing the injury risk to students. Bullets that miss their target have the potential to kill.
There is no way that teachers could be properly trained for these situations. Even professionals with years of training to their credit have jumped the gun, injuring or killing suspects that were making sudden moves to pull out a wallet or cell phone. A teacher could accidentally shoot a student, or an officer arriving on the scene of the crime could mistakingly shoot a teacher when they see that that teacher has a gun.
Subjecting instructors to intensive training on how to return fire in the case of a school shooting doesn’t coincide with the reason most of them became teachers.
Many educators have been vocal in their distaste for this proposal.
“It hurts to hear we’ve come to this, that we’re so afraid of children that we think we need to be armed to work with them,” said Grand Rapids Superintendent Bernard Taylor.
This proposal is a major misfire in logic and will not make classrooms any safer or ease teachers’ burdens.