It's not crazy to arm teachers, it's prudent

The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Rodricks writes: “This talk of arming teachers strikes me as cavalier leaping toward insane” (“The 22 things needed for a good guy (armed teacher) to stop a bad guy with a gun,” March 6). I ask: What’s insane about arming qualified classroom teachers, our “first responders,” giving them a real fighting chance to save their students’ lives when death or serious injury is otherwise guaranteed?

So dedicated, teachable professionals with years of training and college degrees can’t learn what’s necessary to be legally armed as he implies? At least as well as their young students can? Like the teenagers and early "twenty-somethings" I’ve taught in our college’s law enforcement program? Youngsters who then go on to careers as police officers soon thereafter.

Arguing exclusively law enforcement’s perspective neglects voices of teachers whose classes have actually been invaded by a deranged person like mine was the day after the Amish schoolchildren were killed in their schoolhouse in Pennsylvania in 2006.

I vividly recall a man racing into my classroom, screaming, out of his head, flailing his arms, swinging at my students and creating mayhem. By God’s grace, he was unarmed. I yelled at him from my corner desk, went after him, ran him out the door and then called police. Had he been armed, we know the drill: Massive police presence, guns drawn, but through no fault of theirs, too late. Followed by body bags, TV cameras and sanctimonious politicians looking for airtime.

When well-intended attempts at reasonable gun laws, background checking, hardened school security, counseling and parental guidance fail, it’s just your students and you in a classroom trapped against a guy with a loaded gun bent on killing you. Not good odds.

It takes seconds — not minutes — for that deranged man with the loaded AR rifle to invade our classroom, see those kids’ panicked faces, crying eyes and keep pulling that trigger. Then kills himself before police arrive, or runs away and gets caught later. Damage done.

It’s a multivariate problem requiring a “can do — must do” attitude. First, replace the “we can’t arm teachers because” talk by combining teacher expertise with other educational professionals experienced with these incidents, legal experts, firearms professionals, and law enforcement. Work with other states, too, doing the same. Second, create, test, and develop the finest training program possible. Offer it to teachers — and perhaps police — willing to volunteer, agree to and pass background checks and desire certification, giving them opportunity to qualify. Then integrate those who succeed back into their college or school security protocols with the necessary rights.

In closing, what is far more “cavalier” is to ignore the “insanity” of leaving all our teachers unarmed in “gun-free” zones. Those teachers are your children’s first responders.

E. Joseph Lamp, Parkville

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