Should Teachers Be Armed?

After the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, states are considering legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns in schools.

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The national gun control debate has been revived in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 20 children and six adults at the school last Friday leaves many questions unanswered, including whether or not armed teachers could have prevented the tragedy.

Gun rights activists argue that the right to bear arms actually makes people safer, because it increases the chances someone present during a mass shooting will be able to fight back with a firearm of their own, or even discourage a potential assailant from acting out in the first place. They say gun incidents such as the shooting at Sandy Hook prove the need for gun ownership, rather than the need for tougher restrictions.

[ See a collection of editorial cartoons on the Newtown shooting.]

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he thinks the state should explore the possibility of arming school officials. The Sandy Hook Elementary principal was killed in the massacre, and McDonnell wondered if she would have been able to stop the shooting had she or others in the office been armed:

I know there's been a knee-jerk reaction against that … I think there should at least be a discussion of that. If people were armed, not just a police officer but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the schools.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called McDonnell's calls for guns in schools "outrageous, extreme and reprehensible:"

It's hard to imagine a level of weaponry that a security guard . . . would be carrying on their belt that could have resisted the sort of attack that that individual perpetrated in Newtown.

"I think we have too many guns, and I think we have too much killing," he added.

Writing for U.S. News, Calgun Foundation Chairman Gene Hoffman said in addition to firearms, schools should also explore equipping school personnel with other tools that could help deter an attacker:

We should consider adding Tasers and other less lethal devices and training on their use for the adults we trust to watch over our kids. These tools should sit in glass cases right next to the fire alarm and fire extinguisher. We should also consider allowing teachers who would carry a firearm to do just that.

[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Did the Sandy Hook Shooting Prove the Need for More Gun Control?]

After the Connecticut shooting, lawmakers in Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota are considering legislation that would allow teachers to carry firearms in schools. Texas allows teachers to possess concealed weapons if the school has written authorization. Similar laws exist in seven other states, with exemptions to gun bans for those with conceal and carry licenses.   

What do you think? Should teachers be armed? Take the poll and comment below.

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