While many of the survivors of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been traveling the country organizing support for gun control and to keep guns out of schools, the adults investigating the shooting have reached an entirely different conclusion: arm teachers.
Politico reported on Wednesday that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the commission investigating the shooting, recommended a “major expansion” of Florida’s Guardian Program, “which has allowed some non-educators to carry weapons in schools.” Currently, 25 of 67 school districts participate in the program.
Earlier in 2018, the state passed the Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which enabled school officials to arm non-educator staff trained as “guardians.” The law prohibits teachers from the training, but Gualtieri’s recommendation asks lawmakers to amend the rule to equip and train teachers with guns.
“We need to put aside these ideological positions and realize what reality calls for,” he said, echoing the president’s previous calls for armed teachers.
There isn’t a whole lot of research on the public health crisis created by guns because National Rifle Association-backed politicians have blocked research on guns for the past two decades by stifling research funds. What we do know, however, is that access to guns does not reduce the threat of violence, and in fact, likely increases the threat of violence. America’s high gun ownership is directly correlated to its high number of mass shootings. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in July also points out that “the anticipation of violence can lead to increased anxiety, fear, and depression,” meaning that simply the presence of guns and training for mass shootings “in all likelihood, would heighten levels of anxiety and negatively affect a school’s climate.” (The report also notes that arming teachers nationwide would take up an estimated 30 percent of the federal education budget, a system that is already drastically underfunded). Gun control, meanwhile, is proved to be an effective way to curb gun violence.
Only one member on the panel opposed the idea: Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, died in the shooting. “I don’t think teachers should carry guns,” Schachter said. “I think they have enough on their plate.”