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Guns on teachers won't make schools more safe

Many readers may be aware that a school safety commission has been meeting in central Arkansas to make recommendations. It is rumored this commission is considering the idea of arming teachers as a deterrent to potential school shooters. This may sound like a viable idea to some at first, as the idea of a "good guy with a gun" stopping a "bad buy with a gun" is a very popular myth and many people derive a false sense of security by carrying their own firearm. But reality paints a different picture, and the statistics just don't bear out. Recently, the FBI looked at 160 active-shooter incidents and found that only in one of those incidents did an armed civilian successfully intervene, and that particular civilian was a former U.S. Marine. Arming teachers could potentially make an intruder situation more dangerous, too. The presence of multiple guns makes response much more complicated for law enforcement officers when dealing with an active-shooter situation, as we saw last November in Denver.

We also know the children are smart. In a recent study, in homes where a gun is present the majority of children living in those home reported they knew where the firearms were kept and over one-third reported that they had handled the firearm; 40 percent did so without their parents' knowledge. Research tells us that, regardless of age, accessibility of a firearm triples the risk of death by suicide and doubles the risk of death by homicide. The vast majority of fatal unintentional shootings of children are self-inflicted or occur by a peer and involve finding an unsecured firearm. This research, coupled with what we know about the lack of research supporting the "good guy with a gun" theory, makes putting guns in our schools of very dangerous proposal. The potential risks clearly outweigh the potential benefits.

Both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association oppose arming teachers. The National Association of School Resource Officers also oppose arming teachers because of the danger it would pose to law enforcement officers.

Some things we know could do to lower the risk for school shooters are to urge our legislators to pass red flag laws, comprehensive background checks on all gun sales (no loopholes for private sales), and to raise the minimum age to 21 for purchasing semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

I strongly urge this commission to analyze the evidence and rethink this recommendation. It may make some feel safer knowing that teachers are carrying loaded, hidden weapons in our schools, but the research suggests this could make our children less safe. Let's think before we act.

Stephannie Baker

Bentonville

Bentonville Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Commentary on 06/22/2018

Print Headline: NWA Letters to the Editor

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