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Schools should be safe, peaceful places — guns do not belong here. This photo of the former Spearfish High School was taken by Bernie Hunhoff in 2011.
Schools should be safe, peaceful places — guns do not belong here. This photo of the former Spearfish High School was taken by Bernie Hunhoff in 2011.

Armed Teachers? Not In My Classroom

Dec 26, 2012


In response to the school shooting in Connecticut, Rep. Betty Olson of Prairie City and Rep.-Elect Scott Craig of Rapid City have suggested passing a law to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms in school.

If you want an armed teacher, I'm not the right teacher for your school district. I choose to teach like Gandhi, King, and Jesus, not Wayne, Willis, Schwarzenegger. I reject the call to "Arm the teachers, in the meantime bulletproof the kids," because such a cry is based on a desire to sell product, not educate children:

Studies have shown that highly visible efforts to increase school safety, such as cameras and armed guards, decrease students’ feelings of security, said Eric Rossen, a clinical psychologist and administrator at the National Association of School Psychologists. That’s another risk with bulletproof backpacks, he said. Children who don’t feel safe also don’t feel connected or understood, ultimately undermining their ability to learn and to form trusting relationships, he said [Caitlin Dewey, "Since Newtown School Shootings, Sales of Kids’ Bulletproof Backpacks Soar," Washington Post, 2012.12.20].

Folks who want me to carry a gun in my classroom are asking me to gamble on the "payoff" of the one-in-a-million event of an armed attack on my classroom at the cost of the daily psychic damage of the gun on my hip saying to kids, "We're not safe. Be afraid." I don't gamble in general, because I understand that the house always wins, but at least in Deadwood, there's some entertainment value in gambling.

I get the distinct impression that calls for guns in the classroom aren't based on a desperate desire to protect children's safety at all costs. They seem based on a desire to turn schools, one of the safest, most peaceful places in the community, into an affirmation of gun worship.

Schools can protect children better by making them feel loved and connected. Yet our schools pass policies that prohibit teachers from hugging kids or contacting them on social media. We fear our teachers' expressions of caring, but we encourage expressions of fear and aggression.

If Rep. Betty Olson and Rep. Scott Craig toss their "arm the teachers" bills in the hopper, I will go to Pierre. I will testify before committee with my usual enthusiasm and exaggerated hand gestures. The staid members of the committee will watch my spectacle, think, "We want to put guns in this guy's hands?" and quickly kill those bills... as well they ought.

I'll do my part to keep guns out of our schools. Legislators, help me out. Let teachers be symbols of peace and civil society, not fear and isolation.


Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a right-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard every other Monday on this site.

Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.


10:19 am - Wed, December 26 2012
Lori Krause said:
Amen and thank you for saying the words, especially these:
"We fear our teachers' expressions of caring, but we encourage expressions of fear and aggression."
10:19 am - Wed, December 26 2012
Lori Krause said:
Amen and thank you for saying the words, especially these:
"We fear our teachers' expressions of caring, but we encourage expressions of fear and aggression."
10:48 am - Wed, December 26 2012
Mike Lynch said:
Great analysis, Cory. Arming teachers makes as much sense as the less than brilliant idea Madison H.S. administrators had a few years back when I was a teacher in the district. After a bomb threat, teachers were tasked with searching through students' purses and backpacks as they entered the school the first day after this had occurred. When I professed that beyond hearing a ticking sound, I was unqualified to screen for bombs, the principal told me she didn't want a law enforcement official or National Guard member to search because it would make students feel uncomfortable. I refused this duty and was tasked to be a door guard instead. As if teaching isn't challenging enough, some people want to expand 'duties assigned' to asinine expectations such as these without realizing they very well may be making schools more dangerous in the process.
03:37 pm - Wed, December 26 2012
Troy Hight said:
If Cory were to be asked , "Your class will be attacked today. Do you want this pistol?", his answer would be yes. If a shooter were to attack two kindergartens, one with an armed teacher, one without, which class would you rather have your child in? Self defense is our right. Defense of the helpless is our duty.
07:38 pm - Wed, January 2 2013
NE Carlin said:
Obama sends his children to Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, which has 11 armed security officers. This in addition to the Secret Service agents protecting his daughters.
06:28 am - Thu, January 3 2013
Ed Goss said:
Kidda looks like guns are OK if protecting me and mine but to heck with the rest of you. But where my grandkids go to school or teach you sure are welcome to have guns in the hands of trained employees in the school and that is where I'm for increasing school taxes. I think it would deter goofy's from thinking this is a good place to go shoot up a school.
06:27 am - Sat, January 5 2013
Troy, you ask an artificial question that we never face. The real question is whether how we respond to possibilities. The possibility that my classroom will be attacked is miniscule compared to other risks that our children face. The harm from carrying a gun every day to respond to the one-in-a-million threat is too great.
06:28 am - Sat, January 5 2013
Carlin, The President is the President. Secret Service agents are trained professionals. Do you want to increase government spending to train and arm every teacher to the level of Secret Service agents? Does the threat justify that response?
06:29 am - Sat, January 5 2013
Ed, your priorities are wrong. You would pay more taxes for something that will do more harm than good. Will you pay more taxes to hire more teachers who will do more concrete good every day of the school year for every child?
07:11 pm - Fri, January 11 2013
NE Carlin said:
caheidelberger, The armed security officers were in place prior to Obama selecting that school for his children. One of the reasons he did choose that particular school.
07:51 am - Sun, January 20 2013
False: the Sidwell Friends school has no armed security guards. Any armed security around the President's children is Secret Service, as required by federal law.
09:21 am - Sat, March 9 2013
chrisv said:
Teaching is a very active job, up and down from your desk, facing the front white-board or walking around in front of class with a book. Often moving chairs for groups and walking around desks during tests. Can you imagine the daily exposure to a gun would desensitize children to the dangers of guns in general. Yes, more guns is a marketing strategy to try and get the school districts to buy guns for teachers. That is what were guns for teachers is leading.

Now the next Adam Lanza won't even have to get a gun he can just zap a teacher with a tazer and steal her gun as most teachers are women. Yes, now the killers will know how to get a gun even faster no matter what their criminal history. Everyone will know there are a bunch of teachers who you can just beat up and take their guns. Now, seriously, even at Ft Hood a military base 13 killed and 39 wounded and a teacher is supposed to do better? Jeesh. All that guns around kids do is increase danger for the gun to be used against the children or in an accident. The chances of a teacher shooting the next Adam Lanza is zero, in full body armor, military weapons blazing, even if they have a gun.

What we need are sensible gun laws that stop dangerous people from having guns not more guns around children? Insurance laws are starting to take risk assessment for life, home, car and business insurance and public schools based on guns. The insurance industry is well on it's way making risk assessment on gun ownership and it will also apply to guns in the public schools. Maybe if the community has to pay INCREASED insurance rates for this dangerous gun law to have guns in the schools they might not be willing to use tax money that way.

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