Educators With Guns: Will This Help Students’ Safety Or An Accident Waiting To Happen?

In the wake of escalating school shootings, Benjamin Logan Local School District has taken a proactive approach to ensure the safety of its students.

An article in Edweek shared how the superintendent, John Scheu, believes that preparation is the best defense. Each recent incident of violence at school and tragic mass shooting has made him wonder if the schools in his district were prepared for such a catastrophic issue.

What would happen if a shooter decided to target Benjamin Logan students and faculty? One of the schools in the district is 10 miles away from the nearest police outpost. How long would it take for officials to help in this kind of emergency?

Finding New Ways To Respond To The Emergency

Superintendent Scheu knows that every second matters when it comes to school shootings. This is why his district, located about an hour northwest of Columbus, Ohio, has always been vigilant. 

As a result, his district has been quick to take action to improve its preparedness. He and his team have invested substantially in security infrastructure, including hiring school resource officers, installing surveillance cameras linked to the sheriff’s office, and instituting mental health clinics for students and staff.  

The Challenge: Threats From Within

The current safety protocols are effective against external dangers, but how would they fare against a threat already inside the building?

Scheu speculates that there need to be more proactive measures taken to protect students from the potential danger posed by an internal threat to support existing precautions further.

Students and teachers are trained with lockdown and active shooter drills, but in case of a shooting, there isn’t much else they can do except wait for help to arrive. As a result, the district felt the need for a plan for immediate intervention.

Introducing Armed Response 

After meticulous planning, the 2023–24 school year saw the debut of the district’s ‘Armed Response Team.’

The team comprised teachers and staff members trained to act as the first line of defense against potential active shooters. It’s an emerging trend in Ohio and nationwide to see educators as potential safeguards against threats.

Benjamin Logan’s Armed Response Team isn’t Scheu’s first foray into this territory. He had previously introduced a similar initiative in Ohio’s Sidney City Schools during his tenure as superintendent. Teachers in this program stored firearms in specialized safes accessible only to them.

Training And Implementation

Members of the Armed Response Team underwent rigorous background checks, mental health evaluations, and a comprehensive three-day, 24-hour training program covering diverse aspects of crisis response.

The program further requires the Armed Response Team members to complete eight more hours of training every year. The trainers will also have to reapprove the members. 

However, their training—or lack thereof—has sparked a debate, with most onlookers feeling that 24 hours’ worth of training isn’t long enough to equip team members properly.

Recent changes to Ohio’s state law have reduced the training hours, leading to concerns about the adequacy of the program.

Teachers And Firearms: A Controversial Decision

Despite the logic behind arming educators, the decision remains contentious.

Opponents argue that the potential risks outweigh the benefits, from accidental discharges to possible thefts. In fact, several national groups, including the National Education Association and the National Association of School Resource Officers, oppose the move for this reason.

Internal District Support 

However, within Benjamin Logan, there is significant support for the initiative. After witnessing the team’s comprehensive training, the initial resistance from some board members and the local teachers’ union seemed to diminish. The subsequent vote saw unanimous approval for the initiative.

The National Perspective

While most US states permit armed educators, public opinion remains divided.

While some view armed educators as a potential deterrent to threats, others worry about the unforeseen consequences. Moreover, Ohio’s change in training hours has further fueled the debate.

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The Motivation: Safety Or Politics?

For Scheu, the decision was never political. It has always been about the safety of students and staff alike.

He sees the Armed Response Team as a deterrent, a message to potential threats that the district is armed and ready, regardless of police presence. Yet he acknowledges the valid concerns of those opposing the initiative.

As districts nationwide grapple with the challenges of ensuring student safety in an increasingly uncertain world, the debate on arming educators remains at the forefront of educational policy discussions.

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 This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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