Teaching and shooting: Superintendents shouldn’t be asked to decide which teachers are armed
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 31, 2012 | 2457 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Let’s follow the logic of Republican state Rep. Kerry Rich of Albertville.

He intends to file a bill in the state Legislature that would authorize Alabama school system superintendents and local boards of education to select and approve staff members — principals and teachers — to carry guns on campus.

Under Rich’s plan, five people in Calhoun County — local superintendents Joe Dyer (Calhoun County), Joan Frazier (Anniston), Jeff Goodwin (Oxford), Jon Campbell (Jacksonville) and Matt Akin (Piedmont) —would be given critical tasks: who among their staff members are capable of doubling as armed guards?

It’s doubtful that superintendents or school boards asked teachers during their interview process, “By the way, do you have any training with a handgun?”

Do they take the gender-driven approach and automatically select a male teacher on each campus?

Do they take teachers and principals to a firing range to see who’s most capable?

And, in the deepest sense, how do superintendents know if a teacher has the mettle to fire a gun and take another person’s life — even if it saves the lives of children?

They don’t, is the answer.

Following the massacre in Newtown, Conn., earlier this month, Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson wrote an op-ed in The Star that touched on a wide range of issues concerning gun violence in the United States. One of his most salient points was this particular topic: the aftermath of shooting, and perhaps killing, another person.

“Most of the people proposing everyone to be armed have not experienced armed confrontations, made that split-second decision to shoot or don’t shoot, or dealt with the bloody aftermath,” Amerson wrote. “Despite what movies portray, the aftermath of a shooting is not everyone going out for beer and back to work the next day. It is a life-altering event with years of dealing with the legal and civil liability. You can be certain, if you survive, that someone associated with the other person will have a different opinion about your choice. Don’t forget the very pleasant media experience as they endlessly rehash and question your decisions.”

Put simply, Rich’s logic doesn’t hold up.

The intent isn’t to make light of the severity of U.S. gun violence or downplay the need to protect our schools. Clearly, changes need to be made. Instead of filing this bill, the better tactic would be to push for rational, doable plans to come out of Jan. 9 meeting between state officials, legislators, state Superintendent Tommy Bice and law enforcement officials. Alabamians need to hear what they think should be done.

It’s hard to imagine Rich’s plan will get much rock-solid support that day.
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