Face to Face: Should teachers be armed?

Sachi Nahas

Face-to-Face is a feature that allows two members of the Redwood Community to grill each other, argue, or simply converse about a relevant issue or event. We provide the topic, and they do the rest. This month’s participants are senior Emma Winkler Prins and junior Ben Pontious. They discuss whether or not Redwood teachers should be armed.

face to face
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Do you think Redwood teachers should be armed? Why or why not?


Ben Pontious: Well, I think with a more radical view, so yes, they should be armed or at least security should be armed in order to protect the children of the school and ensure safety and self-defense in general.


Emma Winkler Prins: I don’t think teachers should be armed at all, because having every single teacher armed at a school, first of all, would require a lot of training, which would have to be very thorough to make sure they can handle the gun and make sure it’s the right situation. It would also cost a lot of money which would, therefore, reduce the funding for the school and education itself. If teachers were armed there would be more guns lying around school when there shouldn’t be any guns at school. Any access to guns at all is bad, especially [for] students because they can easily get heated.

BP: Okay, I see where we disagree, but I think we agree that not every single teacher should have a gun. But as we saw in Parkland with the shooting there, the police were called and Deputy Sheriff Scott Israel failed to actually go into the building and waited four and a half minutes outside while Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people. If that was able to be prevented from within, from a security guard, a teacher at least, or a well-trained responsible person, then it’s more viable and less polarizing. Having the guns in the arms of at least a responsible few and not necessarily everybody would be effective. Keeping the gun on their person as well would work out.


EWP: I just think no guns should be allowed at school at all. If the police want to come with guns, then it’s cool since they are trained, but no one else should.


According to a Bark survey, 82 percent of Redwood students believe that teachers should not be armed while 10 percent believed they should and eight percent don’t have an opinion. What do you think are some factors that attribute to the school’s overall opinion?


BP: I think Marin is a pretty liberal place and that [not arming teachers] is generally a view shared by the left. It’s usually not as pro second amendment, for example, as the right would be. I think that definitely plays into the outcome.


EWP: Yeah I agree. Students generally go with the view that their parents have or say, ‘Yeah I’m rebellious, I totally approve of guns,’ without even thinking about it and say yes, they support it. I honestly don’t feel fear is very prevalent at this school at all though.


BP: Yeah I think every school is a gun-free zone, so the idea of having guns on a school campus is obviously a scary idea to some people. But if you have them in the hands of the right people rather than, you know, an active shooter on campus that wants to do illegal things, it’s just better to have responsible people with guns rather than the criminals with guns.

Do you believe you would feel safer on campus if teachers were to be armed? Why or why not?


EWP: No, I wouldn’t feel safer, mainly for reasons I previously stated such as easier access to guns basically for anybody even if they are locked away. I just think students would totally find a way to get it if they wanted to and I just like the idea of maybe having a security guard on campus who is not in a classroom and can get away easily. I just don’t think teachers should have guns in the rooms and on their bodies at all. It’s also just intimidating to think of a teacher holding a gun while they are teaching the class. I mean, I would not like that, it’s just what I picture. Even if they were locked in a safe that only the teachers had a key to. The teacher could leave the key on the desk. I don’t know, students always can find a way to have access to them.


BP: Some teachers obviously I wouldn’t want to have guns because of obvious reasons, but I think if they are responsibly trained, then they know what to do since they have all the right training. For example, my mom is an NRA instructor and went through a bunch of training herself. She was trained to carry a firearm, shoot a firearm, use it responsibly and so I guess it’s kind of where I get my opinion on the Second Amendment. But I feel that if there was a teacher who was similarly trained and similarly responsible and checked out for all the background checks since in California we have really strict background checks and laws and restrictions getting guns and stuff, [then it would be okay].


EWP: But there are still mass shootings though, despite the restrictions…


BP: Yeah exactly. But I think that not because of the responsible gun owners, but it is because of the irresponsible gun owners. So I think that putting a gun in the hands of a responsible teacher who is trained is good. I think I would very comfortable with that. I do think they should keep it on their person though.


EWP: Well just imagine having your teacher holding a gun.


BP: I don’t think they would just be holding the gun out.


EWP: Well duh, but even if it’s just on your body, if it’s like a pistol, I don’t know, it’s still a loaded gun. I’m not totally against people owning guns in general, especially if they are trained and safe and stuff like that. I lived in Switzerland for three years and everyone had guns there. But especially in school zones, honestly so much drama happens in schools, people get heated all the time and just having deathly weapons around is not an ideal place.

BP: Yeah I just think the main point is with all the school shootings that are happening is that all schools are gun-free zones and all school shootings obviously happen in schools, so every school shooting is in a gun-free zone. Just saying, ‘Alright, we’re not going to let guns on the campus’ does not restrict any crimes from occurring on campus.  


What do you think would be an effective compromise to satisfy both points of view?


BP: Armed security.


EWP: Yeah, I definitely think that’s not a bad idea.


BP: It not only acts as a crime deterrent, since obviously if there’s a school shooter he isn’t going to go to a school with armed security guards, but it also acts as defense for the kids.


EWP: Also the knowledge that they are there might already prevent a shooter from coming on campus.


BP: Yeah, also I see how some teachers may make a kid feel uncomfortable (if armed.) Personally, I wouldn’t be, but I know for a lot of people it is uncomfortable.


EWP: I would be so uncomfortable.


BP: It’s just the difference of person to person.


EWP: Also, if some teachers were armed and some were not, it would already impact the specific views of each of the teachers in the first place.


BP: Yeah, so that’s another topic, but I think we can both agree that armed security makes sense.


EWP: Yeah, that’s a pretty good conclusion actually. We both agree then.