by Jacy Eggum
When I was in first grade I loved school, it was a place I always felt safe. That is, until one day when I heard the principal’s voice come over the intercom. “Everyone, this is a Code Red, please follow procedure immediately.” I had only heard of Code Red’s before, never practiced for one. It was a new concept that my elementary school had adopted a month beforehand. We were told that a Code Red would be called if there was a threat to our safety. It was put in place to take precautions against any personal danger. We were told that we would have a drill coming up soon to practice the Code Red procedure, but we never got that chance to rehearse it. I looked around the room to find my teacher, quickly rushing to turn off the lights and lock the door. She instructed us all to sit against the wall furthest from the door. She double checked her calendar, saying there was not a drill planned for today. We needed to be quiet. She assured me that we would all be fine. I remember the fear that went through me that day and my peers all being in total panic.
The Code Red was called in my school that day because a man was seen walking in the hallways. When a teacher asked if he was looking for someone he took off running. They never found him, the police searched my school to be sure he at least vacated the building and that it was safe to resume.
The reason schools today have to regularly rehearse code red drills is because of the all too many cases in which a school has fallen victim to an act of violence. Most people have heard of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14th, 2012, in Newton, Connecticut in which twenty-six lives were taken, but few fail to realize that there have been a total of forty- four school shootings that have happened since then (Strauss par. 1). We must call upon ourselves to make a change to better our children’s safety while at school.
This is why schools should allow teachers to carry a firearm while in the classroom. Fortunately, during my personal experience with a Code Red situation, no one got hurt. However, it is apparent that things don’t always turn out so lucky. In the case of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, it is reported that the principal attempted to stop the killer on her own, before she was shot herself. “If she had had a gun, it might have been a different story” stated Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, weighing in on the issue (qtd. in “Arizona House panel Moves Ahead with School Guns Bill” par. 10). There have been too many times where a child, or a school official, has had to endure an injury, or even death, as a result of a school related terroristic act. I call it a terroristic act because in all reality, that’s what it is. These children go through immense amounts of terror caused by threat to their safety. Even in cases when no one gets harmed, the children do not know that the outcome will be so fortunate at the time. During the event, everyone is fearing for their lives, or the lives of their peers. We need to enable our schools to fight back against such situations; we need to give them a sense of hope and safety.
Police don’t always make it in time to prevent crime. Schools are large buildings, will a lot of people inside them, vulnerable to whatever comes their way. They can lock their doors and try to hide, but all too often that is just not enough. On average, it takes police anywhere from roughly four minutes to almost one hour arrive on the scene of an incident. Even though police arriving in almost an hour is highly unlikely in a school safety situation, it doesn’t change the fact that schools are simply left on their own until help arrives. With the average time for violent crimes to be committed sitting at only ninety seconds, any wait for help is too long (“Average-Police-Response-Time to a 911 call?” par. 5). Arizona Representative John Kavanagh has spoken about the problem saying that no matter how fast the police get to the school, it still may not be good enough. “When a wild gunman is chasing your kids, how many minutes do you allow him to have free access to the child?” he exclaims (qtd. in “Arizona House panel Moves Ahead with School Guns Bill” par. 19). When police arrive they still have to find the person or thing causing a threat, which may not be an easy task when school sizes can be very large.
Firearms in the classroom would stop the crime before it occurs. In 2013 there was an incident in Detroit where two ex-students pulled a gun out on school grounds at a high school in Detroit. Luckily, a school coach had a firearm on him and could stop the situation immediately (Blodget par. 5). This could have been yet another school tragedy, but was avoided due to a school official having a gun. Imagine if there was no one capable of stopping the attempted shooters. Statistics show that “law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year,” (“Fact Sheet: Guns Save Lives” par. 1). With staggering proof that lives are saved every day due to a firearm being in the right hands, we should make firearms available to our schools as well. They should be given the same opportunity to save themselves from criminals. Depriving schools of this only hurts them.
Having teachers carry firearms would be a deterrent to future crime. People are less likely to commit a crime when knowing that a firearm is at the ready for defense. Of all the felons polled, three fifths of them said they would not target potential victims if they knew the victim had a firearm (“Fact Sheet: Guns Save Lives” par. 20). This means that if the expected situation of what would happen if a shooting was attempted on school grounds was the gunman being stopped every time, they would be attempted less frequently.
It is apparent that there would have to be certain qualifications and restrictions in the situation of a teacher having a firearm in the classroom. The school officials wishing to carry would have to go through a course on the safe handling of firearms and pass various background and mental health checks. The Buckeye Firearms Association of Ohio, a state newly allowing school officials to have a gun on school grounds, states that “Medical trauma care, mindset, general school security, etc.” would all be a focus of the training teachers go through in order to carry (qtd. in Hart par. 6). It is important that the teachers obtaining guns at school would have to be trusted individuals, by their peers and by their students. The last thing we want is a student to fear the teacher because of the gun. In my opinion, this means that there must be a designated locked drawer in a desk in which the firearm is kept, so that the students would not have to worry about the firearm being misused or mishandled. Every precaution possible would be taken in order to ensure the safe use of the firearm.
Students should be able to get an education without fearing for their lives. Parents should be able to know that when their child goes to school, they will come back. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity and freedom, we must protect that. When school shootings happen this often, it is apparent that whatever we are currently doing to provide safety to our nation’s students, is simply not working. We must incorporate firearms into our education systems.
“Arizona House Panel Moves Ahead with School Guns Bill.” Arizona Daily Sun. Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.
“Average-Police-Response-Time to a 911 Call?” Women’s Self-Defense Institute. Angie M. Tarighi, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Blodget, Henry. “Finally A Gun Is Used To Stop A Crime Instead Of Killing Innocent People.” Business Insider. N.p., 02 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
“Fact Sheet: Guns Save Lives.” Gun Owners of America. N.p., 29 Sept. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
Hart, Jason. “Over 1,000 Educators Apply for Armed Teacher Training.” RedState. N.p., 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
Strauss, Valerie. “At Least 44 School Shootings since Newtown — New Analysis.” The Washington Post. N.p., 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.