When should a teacher shoot a student?

Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash

Arming teachers is a euphemism for asking teachers to shoot their students. This is the logical conclusion of the vague rambling thoughts of Donald Trump, egged on by the ethically barren Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA.

Teachers train and work very hard because they want to nurture children. At no point in a teacher’s career path does killing children come into the discussion.

The idea of arming teachers serves two purposes. Either it is a deterrent, or a defence.

As a deterrent, the idea would be that teachers with guns in schools would deter kids with guns coming in and shooting up the school. This argument is clearly stupid. Any disturbed kid bringing a gun into school to shoot people is already not thinking rationally enough that the idea of a teacher shooting back would put them off. Most of these kids end up dead, or in prison for life. I don’t think the chance that a teacher, rather than a police officer, might shoot them would make the least bit of difference.

People with guns shoot politicians, police officers, and all sorts of people when there are plenty of armed people around them. Guns don’t deter shooters. This suggestion shows how intellectually limited Donald Trump and those around him are.

So then there’s the defence angle. It is undeniably true that if teachers were armed, then when a kid turns up at the school to shoot everyone, the teacher may be able to shoot that kid before they do too much harm. Mass shootings might end sooner, and fewer people would be killed.

In principle it makes sense. It does, of course, idiotically overlook the vast questions of why kids want to shoot up their schools, and why they’re able to do so once they want to. But if addressing the underlying social malaise that causes such things is too difficult, and if it’s not possible to stop crazy kids getting hold of guns so they can shoot up their school, then yes, arming teachers does make sense.

So back to the teachers; people who devote their life and career to nurturing and caring for children. One could argue that this is a definition of someone who would defend those children, even if it meant shooting another child, and risking their life to do so.

So at what point do we ask a teacher to shoot a kid. Is it when they think the kid might be pulling a gun? Or is it when they are just worried the kid might have a gun? Or do they wait until the armed child has already shot a few people, just to be sure?

Clearly the scenario Trump and the NRA have in mind is when a ‘shooter’ is already roaming around the school letting off rounds. That’s quite clear. But what happens when a teacher shoots the wrong kid, or shoots a kid who turns out not to be armed after all, or who is just being threatening? Will teachers pull guns on angry teenage boys when they ‘get a bit threatening,’ or hit someone?

Trump and the NRA are dragging America deeper into a dystopian nightmare. Already police officers are shooting kids dead by mistake, for no reason, or for the flimsiest of excuses, especially young black men. It started out well intentioned, arming the police so they could shoot dangerous criminals. But it slid into kids being shot for holding things that look like guns, for not taking their hands out of their pocket, or just for walking away.

What may start out as an apparently good idea, if you’re mad and stupid enough to see the world that way, with teachers armed so they can kill students shooting up schools, will without a doubt get caught in the horrific spiral of gun death statistics in America. The first teacher to shoot a kid with a gun will be heralded as a hero. The second time it happens it will be worrying, but still good. Then the mistakes will start, and the kids will become more angry. More kids will come to school armed. More shootings will see more teachers become killers. Scandals will fan the flames, and America’s teachers will be dragged into the same awful mess as America’s police.

This is no way to treat teachers. They deserve more from society than being asked to shoot their students.

Raising the age at which you can buy a gun from 18 to 21 is not an answer. To the outside world that looks insane. Three years will make no difference when it comes to being mentally ill and having an assault rifle. Whether a gun is legally available makes no difference to people with nefarious intentions. To the rest of us not in America, it’s nuts that any civilian should have the right to own an assault rifle.

I hope the teachers rise up with the teenagers in America and eject these lunatics from power. In any other civilised country, the way the NRA funds politicians would be seen as corruption. Any politician supporting policies that cause children to die because of that political funding would be in prison. America has lost the plot on this one. I am glad to see change starting, with companies dropping their support of the NRA. Politicians need to have the courage to reject NRA donations and break themselves free from their control. Voters need to remove from power any politician who will not act boldly to protect American children from being shot.

From outside America, this whole debate looks bizarre. It is evident, a fact, clear, undeniable, that if you have lots of guns, lots of people get shot. If you have no guns, almost no people get shot. In the UK it is not possible to legally own a handgun, let alone military grade weapons. There are no mass shootings or school shootings. If more guns reduced gun deaths, America would already have the lowest rate of gun deaths in the world. So whilst America insists that the Second Amendment cannot be amended, despite itself being an amendment, gun deaths will continue.

You might also enjoy my piece on Why the UK has no guns.