By Miriam Raftery
Photo: ECM news partner 10 News
June 11, 2018 (San Diego) – Nationally, the debate over how to stop school shootings has included proposals ranging from tighter gun control laws to arming teachers. Some states have allowed the latter, but not California, where a new state law effective January 1st prohibits bringing guns on campus statewide except for law enforcement personnel, educational or sports uses.
Despite this legal impediment, the San Diego County Gun Owners, a political action committee, held a firearms training class for teachers on Sunday at Discount Gun Mart in San Diego. According to ECM news partner 10 News, about a dozen attendees showed up.
Michael Schwartz, executive director of the gun owners’ PAC, has said the program was “designed just to educate, really no politics involved.” The free course included instruction on safety, buying guns, differences between sport rifles and assault weapons, a firing guns after completion of the other instruction.
As to whether teachers should be allowed to carry guns at school, San Diegans have weighed in on both sides of the issue.
San Diego Unified School District president Kevin Beiser told NBC 7 he believes it’s “just nuts thinking that giving teachers guns is the solution.” He cited cases in Utah and California, before the recent law banned concealed carry by teachers on campus, where teachers’ guns accidentally went off at school. Another concern is the potential for a disturbed student to take a teacher’s gun and harm others.
Beiser predicts, “It’s just a matter of time before kids are killed accidentally because teachers have guns in the classroom.”
But others argue that allowing teachers to have guns could help them protect students and themselves in the event of an armed school shooter on campus, an event that has been all too common in recent years. Some hope to change California's law to allow teacher's with concealed carry permits to bring their guns onto school campuses. In East County, for example, Alpine Union School District board member Lou Russo has long been a vocal advocate of allowing teachers and event parents to carry guns on campus.
Adult education teacher Marjorie Archibald told 10 News that she previously had a concealed carry permit when she worked in a winery in a remote location. She said, “My thought is we cannot get rid of all the guns, no matter how many laws they pass we’re not going to get rid of all the guns.” The pistol-packing educator added, “Not all teachers are going to agree on everything, but we need the information to make accurate decisions.”
It’s too soon to tell whether allowing teachers to be armed on campus, in states where it's legal, will result in saving substantial numbers of lives and halt massacres such as those at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut or Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, or whether new risks of guns in classrooms will cause more harm than good. But with laws changing across the nation, some stricter, some more lenient on who may carry weapons on campus, the debate over whether or not to authorize gun-toting teachers continues to heat up.
Meanwhile some educators and parents say that alternatives should also be considered, such as metal detectors and fencing around schools, banning assault weapons or raising the age to purchase them, and adding more counselors to help identify troubled students before they take aim at classmates and students.