Wrong Response From Teachers To School Shooting: Ex-FBI Agent
A former FBI special agent warned in an op-ed Sunday that arming teachers would be an “alarming” and risky response to mass shootings in US schools.
Tracy Walder, who received extensive training in both firearms and situational awareness as an FBI agent and former CIA staff officer, explained in The Hill that most educators have never undergone the lengthy and nuanced training necessary to become to respond to an active shooter.
“Most teachers are not trained in situational awareness. It’s not difficult to learn how to shoot a gun; Teachers could learn this with a few days of training. What takes much longer, though, is learning to properly respond to an active shooter,” wrote Walder, who is now a teacher herself.
“Requesting teachers to carry guns and assuming they are prepared for such a situation is risky,” she continued. “To dampen the preconditioned fear response to an active shooter scenario would need to work with teachers on a case-by-case basis.”
Her comment comes days after a deadly mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers and reignited a long-running debate about gun reform across the country. Democratic lawmakers and activists are among those calling for tougher gun laws in the wake of the recent massacre. Others, including many Republican politicians and law enforcement officials, have instead suggested increasing security and giving school officials firearms to act as a line of defense.
Train the police, not the teachers, on school shootings
Rather than forcing educators to undergo the “necessary emotional and psychological” training, Walder wrote, “perhaps we need to rethink how we train police officers.”
During the Uvalde shooting, nearly two dozen local police officers who were on the scene during the attack did not respond quickly to the massacre. The shooter was able to enter the school and open fire on students and teachers for nearly an hour before federal officers finally stormed a classroom and killed him.
Aside from training, Walder wrote, other questions about arming teachers need to be considered, including: “What happens if a teacher’s gun is left unlocked, is stolen, or is wrested from a teacher by a distraught student?” Teachers make students feel safe, or would that make them more guarded when instead they should be open to learning?”
The former FBI agent noted that after leaving her law enforcement positions and taking up a teaching position, she “never thought that one day I would be discussing with students and colleagues the question of arming teachers.”
“As a law enforcement officer, my job was to protect citizens; as a field officer, I protected human property. Being armed helped me with these tasks. As a teacher, my job is to educate students and enable them to become critical thinkers and hopefully help them achieve their dreams. Carrying a gun wouldn’t help me with any of those things,” she concluded.
Debate on arming teachers
The concept of arming teachers in the US is not new. According to a 2020 analysis by think tank RAND Corporation, at least 28 states allow schools, teachers, or staff to be armed in at least some cases or as part of a specific program.
Additionally, between 2018 and 2021, more than 100 bills arming school officials were introduced in 34 states, with more than a third of those laws being introduced in response to school shootings in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas, according to Politico. The majority of these bills did not move forward, but the conversation continues to gain momentum following deadly attacks.
Teachers are not keen on carrying guns
Polls conducted in recent years have shown that a large majority of teachers oppose the idea of being armed in school. A 2019 poll of over 2,900 US teachers found that 95.3 percent of respondents don’t believe teachers should carry guns in the classroom.
Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, echoed that sentiment in a statement earlier this week.
“Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” she said, according to Politico. “We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should teach, not act as armed guards.”
https://www.newsweek.com/arming-teachers-wrong-response-school-shootings-ex-fbi-agent-1711222 Wrong Response From Teachers To School Shooting: Ex-FBI Agent