In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, one of the solutions floated to address gun violence in schools was to train and arm teachers.
In November 2017, the New York times published these two charts in an article entitled “What Explains Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer.”
The first chart (above) shows a correlation between the number of mass shootings and the number of guns present in countries with populations over 10 million people. The United States leads in both the number of mass shootings and the number of guns.
The second chart (below) affirms the correlation by examining the density of gun ownership versus the rate of mass shooting incidents per unit population. Only Yemen outpaces the United States in the frequency of mass shootings.
Since the Parkland tragedy, four news stories have broken that directly suggest more guns in school would increase the likelihood of a gun-related incident.
The latest incident involves a teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Last week, the Miami CBS affiliate reported that the teacher inadvertently left his loaded pistol in a public restroom. The gun was found by a homeless man who fired off a shot.
The main take-away: even well-intentioned gun owners make mistakes. Introducing firearms into schools increases the likelihood that they could be left unattended. Unattended firearms spell danger.
Two previous incidences involve trained staff members whose firearms accidentally discharged inside their schools – 3,000 miles apart, on the same day. Last month, CNN reported that a teacher in Seaside, CA accidentally fired his gun into the ceiling during a safety demonstration (you can make this stuff up) injuring one student. Coincidentally, a school resource officer in Alexandria, VA also accidentally fired his gun, but into a wall.
The main take-away: accidental discharges happen. Introducing firearms into schools increases the likelihood that they will accidentally discharge in school. Loaded firearms – even in the hands of trained personnel – spell danger.
A fourth incident involves a Georgia high school teacher. Two weeks after Parkland, CBS News reported that a teacher barricaded himself inside a classroom, fired off a single shot, and surrendered after a 30-45 minute standoff.
The take-away: guns make situations when people are under duress more dangerous. Introducing firearms into schools increases the likelihood that they will be in the possession of someone experiencing duress. Loaded firearms in the hands of individuals experiencing duress spells danger.
These stories are about factors that are slightly beyond our control: we cannot completely prevent people from leaving firearms unintended, we’re even less likely to be able to prevent accidental discharges, and we’re far from guaranteeing that teachers will never find themselves under duress. Coupled with the international statistics showing a correlation between gun ownership rate and the propensity for mass shootings, it seems clear that schools are the wrong venue to fight fire with fire.
Guns in classrooms only increases the risk that something will go terribly wrong.