Police, not teachers [Editorial]

Harford County Del. Rick Impallaria has introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would allow certain employees to carry a gun in schools.

Impallaria’s plan is to ostensibly limit school shootings, or at least their devastation, by having firepower on the premises to thwart shooters, deranged or otherwise.

We have thought for a long time there should be armed gunmen or women on Harford County’s school campuses for the protection of the students, faculty and staff. We’ve said so more than once in this space.

Where we disagree with Impallaria, and vigorously at that, is who should be carrying those guns. Some Harford County Public Schools have a police officer assigned to them. The majority of the buildings do not. Every one of our public schools should have a police officer assigned fulltime to it.

An officer not only trained, but also experienced in law enforcement at each school, is the better option, not a school employee.

We should not rely on a teacher, an administrator or some other staff member to be the one protecting our kids and the adults who educate them. That’s not their job, nor should they be burdened with such responsibility.

That’s the job of law enforcement, not educators, and it should be left to those authorized to wear a badge and carry a gun.

Some responsible gun owners understand that it’s merely bravado when someone refers to a violent incident and says “if I had been there with a gun” this would’ve happened or that wouldn’t have happened. The reality is people who have not had to use a firearm as the means to saving lives don’t know how they would react in such a dire circumstances.

The same can be said too about some armed, uniformed police officers. They have, however, been trained to use deadly force when required. Not all law enforcement officers do so properly, but they are entrusted to protect us and our communities.

In theory, they are the best ones to protect our schools, our kids and the adults who work and volunteer there.

We agree with Impallaria’s premise that having an armed presence is, ideally, the best deterrent to school shootings, or when there is one it’s better to have someone armed already on site to neutralize the threat.

That should be a police officer, no one else.

We fully understand there’s a cost, and it’s not cheap, to such a philosophy. Keeping everyone in our schools safe from harm, no matter how costly, is priceless, however. Our county and local governments should understand that and make room in law enforcement budgets to fund an officer at each of our schools, not just some as is currently the case.

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