Donald Trump’s presidency has generated more shocking headlines in 12 months than most presidents deliver during their entire time in office, with the former television host involved in foul-mouthed tirades, sexual misconduct allegations, allegations of collusion with Moscow, supporting Neo-Nazis and labelling African nations ’shithole countries’, while claiming to be ‘a very stable genius’ who is ‘very smart’.
But even by Donald Trump’s own standards, his recent response to the horrific high school shooting in Florida, which left 17 people dead, ranks as his most absurd idea yet.
Rather than opting for a common sense solution to tackle the threat of mass shootings, such as making assault rifles more difficult to purchase, the president has been quick to push the ridiculous idea of placing more guns in school, by having one million teachers across the United States issued with firearms which they would carry about with them on a daily basis.
The ‘reasoning’ behind Trump’s plan to spend one billion dollars arming America’s teachers was laid out, like most of the president’s ‘brain waves’, in a series of tweets.
‘…concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to
‘….immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!
‘….History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!
‘….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!’
Not only does Trump’s idea to place a million weapons in American schools fly in the face of common sense, it is also contrary to the steps taken in other countries which have successfully tackled the threat of mass shootings.
In Australia, 1996, Martin Bryant opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon at a popular tourist spot in Port Arthur, on the island state of Tasmania, shooting dead 35 people and wounded 18 others. Within weeks of that tragedy, semi-automatic and other military-style weapons were banned across Australia. Lawmakers also introduced a gun buyback program, which encourage thousands of Australians to give up their weapons. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since the massacre at Port Arthur.
Also in 1996, a massacre took place at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, when Thomas Hamilton, a former Scout leader, opened fire on a class of 5 year olds in the school gymnasium, killing 16 children and a teacher. The following year, government legislated banned higher calibre handguns and .22 calibre handguns and by March 1999, the general public had surrendered 165,353 licensed handguns and 700 tonnes of ammunition. There have been no school shootings in the UK since the Dunblane massacre.
So why is President Trump so keen to adopt a strategy to tackle mass shooting which is in complete contrast to the success approaches adopted in other countries?
The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is money.
Most Americans support stronger gun laws, but the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful lobby group donates millions of dollars to Republicans, and some Democrats, in Congress to ensure no laws are introduced which would restrict the sale of firearms. Senator John McCain alone, has receiving over $7 million from the NRA, and Donald Trump was gifted over $30 million during his 2016 presidential campaign. With such huge influence over the country’s law makers, it’s little surprise that previous efforts to reform gun control laws were blocked by Congress.
Even though gun reforms are being blocked by the NRA’s money, the president’s plans to equip one million teachers and school administers with firearms is absolutely beyond all common sense.
Unsurprisingly, teachers, students and parents have reacted angrily to Trump’s ridiculous proposals, with social media ablaze with criticism of the President Trump and the Republican party.
There are so many reasons that President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers is wrong, that you could write an entire thesis on it, but here are five points to start considering;
– The classroom is not an environment for weapons
It has been clearly documented that the classroom environment is one of the most important factors affecting student learning, with a safe, positive environment providing students with a sense of belonging in which they can trust others and feel encouraged to tackle challenges, take risks, ask questions, and grow as individuals. Guns in classrooms would complete shatter this nurturing environment.
– Armed sheriffs were too frightened to the Florida school shooter
There was an armed sheriff’s deputy on duty at the Florida high school where 17 students were killed. However, this individual failed to confront the shooter during the school massacre and was reportedly found hiding behind a concrete barrier in the school’s car park. That deputy was branded a “coward” by President Donald Trump, and has since resigned.
Three other County sheriff’s deputies who were among the first respondents to the attack also failed to enter the school building, instead waiting for a SWAT team to arrive.
Given that highly trained law enforcement offices were too scared to tackle a lone shooter with semi automatic weapons, it’s completely unrealistic to believe that dinner ladies and mathematics teachers will be able to successfully confront a crazed killer.
– Stay bullets
According to statistics from New York Police Department, trained police officers struggle to successfully hit their targets during gunfights, with the average rate of accuracy at just 18%. Even with training, it’s unlikely that teachers will be as accurate as the average New York police officer, resulting in a probable accuracy rate of less than 10% – which leaves a lot of stray bullets flying around the school. There is a far greater chance that children will be shot in the crossfire, than the mathematics teacher, or the dinner lady, will successfully take out the heavily armed shooter.
– Teachers suffer from mental health issues
Due to the pressures of modern schooling, teaching is one of the most stressful occupations, and thousands of teachers suffer from mental health issues. In the UK over 3,700 teachers are on long term leave due to stress related illnesses and the suicide rate among primary school teachers is double the national average.
Issuing weapons to a million individuals working in a sector which is prone to stress, suicide and mental illness is a recipe for disaster.
– You do not want to be carrying a weapon when the SWAT team show up
Once authorities are aware of a shooting in a school they will call in a SWAT team to eliminate the threat. If you, as a teacher, are walking the corridors with a handgun, there is an extremely high chance that the SWAT team will incorrectly identify you as the threat – and if that happens, they won’t hesitate to ‘take you out’.
Fortunately, there are millions of Americans who are firmly against putting guns in the classroom, and these students, teachers and parents are leading the fight against America’s lawmakers.
Two high profile events are taking place over the coming weeks, the National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24, which will put pressure on the American government to take action which will make schools safer. As the event organisers explain, “Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school,” and, “Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.”
For the sake of America’s students and teachers, let’s hope lawmakers in Washington listen to these pleas, and finally do something to tackle the country’s mass shootings.