A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Arming teachers could be problematic

In the hopes of securing the lives of students, Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill to arm teachers, but legislation is raising eyebrows in Annapolis and getting pushback from the governor.

Despite the school shootings being so close to home, senior Tavia Cox feels as though teachers should not be armed.

“A lot of people in today’s society have mental illnesses that have yet to be diagnosed. Who’s to say that one of our teachers has one?” said Cox. “In order for an illness to be recognized in a teacher, a thorough check must be given. Most teachers have that one student they do not necessarily get along with. There’s no telling what little thing could tick them off. Why put the temptation at hand”?

A bill under consideration in Annapolis would allow teachers and other employees to carry guns in schools. A Harford County delegate introduced the measure in March. The bill’s intent is to provide another layer of protection against attacks, but many school districts already have armed guards.

Impallarias bill authorizes local school boards to allow teachers and other employees to carry a handgun on school property. It also states that the weapon must be secured on their body. Many wonder if this is really necessary.

Around 300 school systems across the state have memorandums of understanding with police to provide school resource officers. With the exception of Baltimore City, they all carry guns on school property. The Maryland State Education Association opposes the legislation.

Bill supporters see it as a deterrent, or at the very least, a way to keep school shootings from escalating. For senior Amaris Pryor, other measures should be put into place rather than a bill.

“Schools should improve their measures and protocols,” said Pryor. “There should be more emphasis placed on lockdown drills being that many do not take them seriously”.

Even with all the safety precautions and drills, many could argue that schools still don’t seem like a safe place for students. Instead of worrying about tests and other academic woes, American students have been inundated with worry about someone walking into their school to shoot it up for no reason.

“I do not feel safe at school. Someone can walk into the school without our awareness,” said Cox. “Sure, some doors are locked here and there [at Parkdale], but not all the time. Many people are knowledgeable about the fact that not all doors are locked and they take advantage of that information”.

Gun rights advocates say that since the Sandy Hook massacre, the number of individual teachers and school districts interested in arming themselves on campus has risen exponentially, with some programs having to put interested applicants on a waiting list to meet the demand.

The idea of concealed firearms in schools has faced opposition from a diverse array of groups – including many teachers unions and law enforcement groups – who argue more guns in school will do nothing to prevent these shootings.

The most recent school shooting that gained nationwide attention happened just 65 miles away at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s county, where 17-year old Austin Wyatt Rollins shot and killed Jaylen Willey, 16, and injured Desmond Barnes, 14, before turning the gun on himself.