Suggestions of teachers owning firearms surface days and weeks after Parkland massacre


Stephen Li (‘21)

Georgia Newman (‘18) embraced by dean’s assistant, Mary Tarushka, after 17 minutes of silence on March 17, 2018, one month after the Parkland shooting.

Serena Fangary, Copy Editor

   Days after the horrifying shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, many people took to social media to express how they felt about what had happened. Some decided to focus on the emotional side by reaching out to students who had been deeply affected, while others chose to focus on the logistics, immediately calling for banning the sale of assault rifles in the United States.

   Amidst the back and forth opinions that surfaced over the span of a few weeks, one suggestion appeared asking teachers to be provided with weapons in case something like the Parkland shooting were to happen again.

   More recently, conversations about what to do in the case of an active shooting have surrounded school campuses across the country. Arguably, one of the more controversial topics on gun safety and regulation offers teachers guns to use in case of an emergency.

   On March 14, one month after the shooting in Parkland, Florida students at Webb carried discussions in Liu Cheung Theater as a way to start a conversation in moving forward from the horrific events that occured. Amidst the conversation, students discussed whether or not they supported the idea of teachers owning guns.

   Spencer Easley (‘18) attended the second part of the discussion, bringing with him an important opinion on why he believes teachers should be armed with weapons. “I think [teachers being equipped with guns] is good because when there is a school shooter we don’t have to sit and wait for the police to arrive. When the shooter breaks into a room with a bunch of students, they don’t have any protection so a teacher with a firearm would be able to take the shooter out. Also, if everybody knew the school contained teachers with firearms, then that would prevent more shootings from happening because people that just want to kill go to places that don’t have guns like schools because they want to kill as many people as possible. So, if they know that schools have teachers that are armed with weapons, they might think twice before shooting at a school.”

   Other students also chose to speak up regardless of whether or not they agreed in hopes of driving a larger conversation about gun control. And even though many students had strong opinions on what they believe the next steps should be, teachers at Webb never actually spoke up about their opinions.

   Some teachers outside of Webb, however, took to social media to describe their discomfort with being given a responsibility they never actually signed up for. Although many people support this idea, teachers themselves have their own doubts.

   Claire Abisalih, a humanities teacher said, “I’m 100% against it, for a lot of reasons. I think having weapons on campus constantly would make me feel less safe rather than more safe. Gun deaths in America result from all sorts of causes and sources. Many of them are accidental, and I would worry about accidents here. Many are at the hands of those with professional training, even those as highly trained and regulated as the police, and even they sometimes injure or kill people in situations that don’t call for that type of response. Having more guns around a high school campus where students and families with young children also live frightens me. Even if we took all the precautions, even if we had all the training, accidents happen. In high-stakes situations, misjudgments happen. I don’t think the solution is to arm people like me. In my opinion, the solution is to get fewer guns in the hands of civilians, not more.”

   Eventually, the conversation stops being about who shouldn’t own guns and it turns into why certain people should. As terrifying as that may sound, some believe that the only solution is to arm more people with the proper tools to defend themselves in the case of an emergency.

   Around the time that the Parkland shooting occurred, Head of Schools, Taylor Stockdale shared his opinion as to why he thinks we should move forward without more guns. “I went to a SWAT team briefing about a month ago where they focused mostly on the San Bernardino and Las Vegas shootings. It was meant to be a learning curve for me in order to help develop connections and relationships with different law officials in the area. And actually I asked a number of them what they thought about the idea of arming teachers, and not one of them thought it was a good idea. They believed that teachers could actually do much more harm than good even if they are trying to do something to help. They could inadvertently shoot people they didn’t intend to or cause a disruption when the response team would arrive. As a result of that, I am really not in favor of teachers having guns. I understand the argument for it, the deterrent factor, but I think it’s a question of cost versus benefit and in this case the cost would outweigh the benefits.”

   Regardless of the opinions that surround Webb’s campus and beyond, we should all take into consideration who we are asking to protect students across the country. Teachers already have a tough enough job; adding the pressure to physically protect their students during an active shooting with a gun could drive teachers across the board to question what their job actually entails.