In times of crisis, it’s easy to overreact. President Trump overreacted when he called over the weekend for funding to train and arm teachers, in the wake of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
Teachers teach. They are not police. They are not trained in the use of firearms. In college, they studied English literature, calculus and phys. ed. At best, they might have fired a weapon at a deer in the woods. The idea that they would somehow be able to fend off an intruder armed with an assault rifle that fires 90 rounds per minute is ludicrous.
Still, nine states — Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin — allow teachers to arm themselves, according to CityLab.com. Florida is now the 10th. On March 7, the Florida House voted to allow some teachers and staff to carry firearms in schools. Gov. Rick Scott signed the measure on Friday.
New York should not be next to consider such legislation. We are, however, starting to see guns creep onto campuses here. On Feb. 27, the Miller Place School District, in Suffolk County, assigned four former NYPD officers to act as security guards. They will be armed.
Could we eventually see armed teachers here? As things stand now, no. Both Democrats and Republicans in the State Legislature have come out against the idea. As noted, though, rational thought doesn’t always follow a crisis.
That is why State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, held a news conference on March 3 at South Side High School in Rockville Centre to propose legislation that would have banned districts from arming teachers. Republicans immediately accused him of grandstanding. GOP lawmakers said they had no intention of allowing teachers to carry weapons, and so, two days later, the Republican-controlled Senate voted down the measure.
Miller Place is a potentially slippery slope, however. If one district hires armed guards, others will feel pressure to as well. The next step beyond that could be armed teachers.
So, while there might have been some grandstanding involved, Kaminsky wasn’t wrong to call for a ban on arming teachers in New York. Standing side by side with him were a cadre of educators, including Rockville Centre Superintendent Dr. William Johnson.
Now is the time to support our teachers. They are afraid, like everyone else. Arming them will solve nothing.