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Letter: Armed teachers setting themselves up for problems

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida, the National Rifle Association, the president, and the conservatives in Congress are advancing a plan to arm several teachers in every school.

The rhetoric is being met enthusiastically by many people. Some educators have even come forward to say they would volunteer for this responsibility. I would hope that these teachers are aware of the awesome responsibility they are taking on if they choose to do this.

-- Police officers have a minimum of two years of formal education followed by years of in-service training. A great deal of this education involves responding with deadly force and when and how to use it. We demand this as citizens because deadly force used incorrectly is a mistake that can not be taken back. Are teachers willing to take the time and effort away from their formal duties to become as proficient as police officers in this area?

-- Despite all this professional training and diligence to their duty, a few police officers have made deadly mistakes and have become the object of national attention. Some have been sued and some were even sent to prison. Are teachers willing to take the consequences that come along with the use of deadly force? Are they putting themselves at higher risk than police officers since they are attempting to do two jobs at the same time?

-- Are teachers willing to point a gun at a student and take a life, even though it goes against the training they receive in dealing with troubled students? Police officers are required to take administrative duty and sometimes speak with a psychologist after use of deadly force. Every incident of deadly force is investigated to determine if it was necessary. Are teachers willing to be second-guessed and put through a formal investigation after the fact?

-- What if you make the wrong call or a bullet ricochets and you shoot an innocent student or bystander? In the Florida shooting, the perpetrator was able to blend into the crowd and walk out without notice. One student who matched the description was held at gunpoint for several hours while police were sorting out what was happening. Can you live with yourself as a teacher if you kill the wrong person? Will your school system stand behind you if you are sued or are criminally charged?

-- One of the mistakes that happens in using guns for protection is having your weapon taken away from you by the perpetrator. In these cases, the firearm can be used against the gun owner who can then be injured or killed. There are numerous reports of children finding guns that were supposedly locked up in a safe place and accidently killing or injuring themselves or a friend or sibling. Are teachers willing to take full responsibility for the firearms they are using and willing to die if it is taken away?

If someone gets hurt with your firearm by accident are you willing to take full responsibility? Do you trust that children will not be curious or brash and attempt to get at your firearm without your knowledge? Do you think the confidential knowledge of which teachers are armed will not be well known by all the students in the school, making you an immediate target before you can reach your firearm?

-- What is the responsibility of the school district if they choose to arm teachers. Do you trust your school board will back you up if a mistake is made?

-- Who pays for the training and the firearms and the substitutes needed during individual training? Our school district cannot get a school bond passed to provide adequate space for students to learn. What educational resources are you willing to give up so some teachers can be armed?

I personally think arming teachers is a bad idea. People who think they can pick up a firearm and use it as well as a trained police officer truly underestimate how difficult this job is. Unfortunately, I have resigned myself to believe that bad ideas or no action is the due course concerning gun control since Sandy Hook.

We are willing as a nation to accept mass murder of children to appease the five million members of the NRA. (Keep in mind that means there are 242 million adults in the U.S. who are not members.) I only hope that if this idea is adopted, teachers think long and seriously about the danger they are putting themselves and their students in before applying an overly simple politically-correct solution to a complicated problem.

-- Donald Johnson, Detroit Lakes

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