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Teachers Debate Carrying Guns to Protect Students in US Schools


Activists join Senate Democrats outside the Capitol in Washington, to force action on gun control legislation after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Teachers Debate Carrying Guns to Protect Students in US Schools
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The recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has brought new attention to the issue of how to keep children in American schools safe.

The attack by a teenaged gunman on May 24 killed 19 students and two teachers. Many details remain unclear.

Many measures have been proposed to prevent gun violence at schools in America. Democratic Party lawmakers have called for banning some kinds of guns, increased security investigations of gun buyers and other measures. Republican Party lawmakers have supported increased security for schools including permitting volunteer teachers to carry weapons.

Many years ago, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, a gun rights group, spoke in support of more guns. He said: "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Many teachers, however, do not support the idea of being armed. A 2018 opinion study by the Gallup organization found that 73 percent of American teachers did not want to carry guns in school.

A.J. Allegra has been a public school teacher in the city of New Orleans for 15 years. He said: "Children, teachers and education belong in schools — not guns. Imagine your oldest teacher when you were in school firing a gun several times within feet of 25 kids. The image is as preposterous as the idea.”

Salvatore Di Grazia, a teacher from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, visits a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 30, 2022, for the victims killed in last week's school shooting. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Salvatore Di Grazia, a teacher from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, visits a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 30, 2022, for the victims killed in last week's school shooting. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jenna Whitesell Carson has worked at a public high school in South Carolina for four years. She said she was appalled by the idea of arming teachers to prevent future school shootings.

"My first thought was that this is not at all what I signed up for," Carson told VOA. "I became a school librarian to educate young minds, not to carry a gun."

She added: "My second thought was that they definitely don't pay us enough for this.”

Some teachers see the issue differently.

Jason Winder is a history teacher who carries a legal, concealed firearm, or gun, at school.

He said: "It's not about seeking out an active shooter. It's about giving me the best tools to keep my students and myself safe. I can't speak for everyone, but a firearm in my hand will be a lot more effective at stopping someone trying to harm my kids than us hiding in a corner."

Some teachers say attention should be placed on other answers. They call for better mental health care and keeping school buildings safe.

Many schools already have armed workers, known as resource officers. This was the case in the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018 in which the officer failed to prevent the attack.

"The resource officer is the first line of defense," said Keith Mott. He is an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department. Mott said: "Teachers, on the other hand, have enough to do just trying to educate our children. That's their goal, and there's no reason they should be armed…”

Teachers do not agree on the answers, but most share a goal.

Angelica Garcia teaches English to children who do not speak it as their first language (ESL) at schools in Saginaw County, Michigan.

"The goal is to make sure our children feel safe, but also to ensure they are safe," said Garcia. "At the end of the day, we all just want to go home to our families, for our families to come home to us, and for us all to live to see another day," she added.

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Matt Haines reported this story for VOA News. Matthew Caputo adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

librariann. a person who works in a library

appall v. to cause (someone) to feel fear, shock, or disgust

preposterous adj. very foolish or silly

conceal v. to hide (something or someone) from sight

ensure v. to make (something) sure, certain, or safe

What do you think of arming teachers? Do you think school faculty should carry firearms? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

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