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home : blogs_old : off the cuff February 26, 2015

Off the Cuff
By Chris A. Porter
WNI Web Developer and PVtrib.com webmaster shares his perspective on technology, local and national politics, and life in the Quad-city area.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blog: Arming Arizona's teachers seems like a terrible idea.

 Chris A. Porter
WNI Digital Media

Courtesy photo

Representative (R-Sierra Vista) David Stevens is once again shopping his controversial HB 2412 legislation to lawmakers. The bill allows school districts to authorize for unlimited teachers and staff to be armed on campuses after completing just 24-hours of training.

Last January, a bill that would arm only rural teachers, sponsored by then-Senator (R) Rich Crandall, died in the House. Crandall's legislation was in response to a rash of school shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

House Democrats, such as Minority Leader Chad Campbell, oppose arming teachers and staff. "It was a bad idea last year, it's a bad idea this year," said Campbell, "Arming teachers, arming anybody that's not trained law enforcement in a complex environment like that, it's just a bad idea."

Though Stevens' current re-launch of the legislation is still in its early stages, he believes it will help provide safety in schools. "It's a tool in the toolbox to help provide safety in the school system," he says.

Off The Cuff - My Take:

I have quite a few friends that have chosen to take on what I feel is one of the most challenging and respectable professions in this country, and that is teaching. I applaud them for their enthusiasm in pursuing such a career in Arizona, where I feel the importance of this particular profession leaves a lot to be desired, especially monetarily, by our political leadership.

In this state, the average salary for teachers is $31,689. That means the people responsible for engineering our children's path to higher learning as well as helping them overcome the academic challenges for our possible future leaders make little more than a staff member employed by any big box retail store.

Now I do not say this to devalue what folks working in retail do to add to the consumer experience in buying products that will possibly inhabit growth in our nation's bleak economy. It is merely an example to illustrate some perspective. Thus, would we ask the same retail associates to take up arms against possible shoplifters in their place of work? The definitive answer would be no for a plethora of reasons, most importantly legal and civil liability.

In a similar vein, do I feel that Arizona educators should be held responsible for taking up potentially lethal arms in efforts to protect our children from some unforeseeable conflict? Beyond the standard health and safety measures outlined by the state, once again the logical answer should be absolutely not. If you already believe school systems are currently caught up in litigation a bit too much, just imagine the Pandora's Box of liability and other legal implications this bill could dredge up.

Educating, like many other occupations, is simply not threat-proof. No amount of legislation is going to change that. What makes it even worse is that HB 2412 trivializes the security of our students by rendering it a voluntary position.

I believe teachers have more than enough on their plates fulfilling their main roles as educators to have to worry about fulfilling a completely unrelated job after being given only 24-hours of training. To me, this whole piece of legislation seems quite shortsighted and haphazardly put together.

If schools don't have the money for a resource officer trained in tactical situations, then other more realistic alternative solutions such as grants or statewide fundraisers should be addressed before entertaining such a rash piece of legislation. Teachers are not security guards, Representative Stevens.

This is once again where I feel some of our lawmakers in this state are totally out of touch with their constituents and have obviously lost all of their basic common sense when attempting to pass purely emotion-driven, "hold my beer and watch THIS!"-type of legislation such as HB 2412. For those interested, here's Mr. Stevens' email address.

Thanks for reading, and as always, your candies and flowers (or pitchforks and torches) are very much appreciated.

Related Stories:

Column: Armed teachers would be 'defenders' (dCourier.com)

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Article comment by: Common Senzi

Arizona has 2,042 schools. Hiring a resource officer for each would cost $92 million.

Given that Arizona has some of the lowest per student spending in the country do we really want to divert even more money away from education into ill conceived reactionary plans.

Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

How much training does it take to know when to center-punch a school shooter?

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Better Said

Better said, we shouldn’t disarm individuals just for being on campus. We’re not advocating the arming of individuals that have no skills or desire to bear arms. Example an Individual who blogs on "YouTube" under the name of Hickok45 is skilled with firearms and a teacher who was not allowed on campus to bear arms. The irony subjecting not only the individual, but also those in his surroundings to not benefit from the added security is the problem.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: peter Smith

The best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Why let our innocent teachers and children be executed by criminals and mentally ill people in "Gun Free Zones" that do nothing to stop the criminal from entering a school with a gun, but prevent those that are at the scene of the crime to stop it? When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. By then, it is too late. Think about it.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: In the KNOW

"Arming teachers, arming anybody that's not trained law enforcement in a complex environment like that, it's just a bad idea."

Take notice! Every few days innocent people are accidentally gunned down by police & criminals. Last week an LA man was mistaken for a wanted fugitive and fired upon. Due to the officers incompetance and awful aim is this man still alive!

My father is a detective & my twin brother is a sheriff. I am a proud Marine! That being said the quote up top is hilarious! My father & brother tell me how poorly trained some officers are with defusing situations, tactical & situational awareness and last but not least pistol proficiency. About 70 percent of the officers come out for the annual shooting competition & about 5 percent of them are good to excellent shots. I meet better shooters at the range on a Friday afternoon. I myself am an instructor, so I know "trained" when I see it.

Unfortunately departments are combating a silly marijuana war & buying armored vehicles whith the money that should go to training officers properly & fighting the Dope war aka meth & heroine.

Mental health is another issue with teachers, officers & everyone who may have a fire arm. Resource officers are the way to go. If that's not an option arm a competent trained teacher!

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Aimes

Trained personnel along the lines of Air Marshals where situational awareness and background awareness is needed. Using lower powered rounds may be a solution such as used to minimize chances that a plane window would be hit.

Kids are as or more important than planes and passengers. Protecting them is a no brainer.

All armed personnel, teacher or otherwise must be qualified and go through an appropriate program such as offered at Gunsight.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: mark knoke

Criminals and crazy people have one thing in common when they commit violence. Like water, they follow the path of least resistance. That's why we don't see mass shootings in police stations, national guard armories and gun stores...and why we do see them in schools and malls.
One way or another, schools need to put up some form of resistance to these people. Whether that is more guards or arming teachers , something needs to be done to create a defensive presence and make these people think twice about entering a school with the intent to kill innocent kids. I thnk it should be left to the districts to decide their best defense.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Doug W

Great blog Chris, here’s my take.

I think legislation like this is disgusting and the authors of these proposals are absolutely selfish and sad.

On the surface you might think that they are trying to keep our children safe and if you believe that, I have some swamp land in AZ I can sell you. This ISN’T about keeping our schools safer, if it truly was then these gun advocates would thow out some other suggestions like,

All schools should have a closed campus policy.

All schools should be equipped with metal detectors at all entrenches.

All schools should be equipped with bullet-prove doors and widows.

There should be a highly trained officer, no school faculty, on campuses when school is in session.

This legislation is all about preventing sensible gun control and not about the children.

Teachers are there to teach, they do not need to be distracted with another job. Our educational system is in the tank and because of that, our competitiveness in the world is slipping. Let teachers do the job they were hired to do, they were not hired to be sharp shooters.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Steve Pritchett

Teaching is an honorable calling and makes a difference in society. With that said I know more than a few people that also serve in the National Guard, are Reserve Police Officers, Medically Disabled Peace Officers and Correctional Officers that are regulars at the range. And a couple that served 2-3 tours in Iraq. Now teachers, that in my opinion are still serving. They have not lost their skill with weapons, their judgment in life and death decisions have been tested. If they are willing to continue to protect as well as teach. It make no sense that their skill sets should not be utilized for the protection of our greatest treasure.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Bobby Fields

This is an interesting concept, and I disagree that it should be flatly rejected outright. As a voluntary program, it is a reasonable expectation that only those educators who were confident that they could carry and employ a firearm in a safe, effective manner would volunteer for the training. Many military veterans go on to become educators, so they already have a tremendous base of training and the ability to make decisions under extreme circumstances. The proposed law allows for the decision to implement at the school district level, maintaining local control of the issue. I think the legislation should include requirements for joint training with local law enforcement on coordinated crisis response scenarios, not just an individual training requirement.

I don't see how salary figures into the discussion. Volunteer firefighters protect our communities for free, and a newly-enlisted service member is making less than a teacher while being literally responsible for the lives of many.

I don't know if having educators with guns is the right call or not. I find it disheartening that many will not even discuss the possibility, or explore the pro's and con's of having armed staff members.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Some Of Us Are Able To Defend Ourselves And Others

If you prefer to shelter in place and take your chances like sheep, you should not handle a firearm. Let teachers who are able to teach and willing to defend themselves and you do so.

If you are worried about the affect of guns in the classroom, there are ways to have a weapon accessible and undetectable.

Twenty-four hours specific training combined with recurrent training is sufficient, if an individual has previous firearms experience. Standards to complete the course should be set to ensure complete competency.

Weapons in classrooms may not stop crazies from committing atrocities, but a competent individual with a firearm may limit casualties.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: arms race

And just what shall we arm them with?
Some mentally ill arm themselves with with ak-47 type weapons. So we train the teach to be armed with this type of weapon? How about body armor, maybe a mini armoured vehicle in the gym.
Arming anybody anywhere is just stupid.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Van Krunk

It might be a little better, just a little, to be able to defend your students instead of hiding them in a closet and watching them be slaughtered like sheep. Just saying.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Hannah Rudy

I was teaching 4th grade when I first learned of the Sandy Hook tragedy. What you realize in that situation is that a threat could walk through that door at any moment. I had a plan in my head of what I could do if it did, but I'd much rather have tactical training and the ability to protect myself and my students from harm. I feel that teachers who are willing to go the extra step should be able to undergo academy training and psychological background checks just as police officers do in order to carry a weapon on campus. It isn't for everyone. Just the knowledge that one or all of the teachers in a given school could be trained police officers would deter many attacks. In the event that an attack occurred, these teachers would be equipped and trained to save the lives of our children. Regular monthly training hours would ensure that skills stay sharp. I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who would embrace such an approach. Part of our job is to protect the most vulnerable members of society. The current structure offers them up as easy targets.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Phil Whitehead

Those that want to, are willing to take the training SERIOUSLY, and have the desire to stop another tragedy before it gets worse, should be able to.

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