Frontline Educators Keep Battling for Gun Regulation

The Senate put a stop to further discussions on gun control in that legislative body when it failed to pass the gun background check bill during an April vote. That hasn’t stopped schools and communities around the country from taking the issue into their own hands, with some implementing buzzer systems at the doors while others have hired armed guards to patrol the entrances. Several schools even have gone so far as to have faculty carry guns.

With proper training, some think this would be the best way to ensure the safety of students and staff. Others, including AFSA, are lukewarm to the idea and have taken action by resisting such measures this year.

Opposition to Educators Toting Guns

Crystal Boling-Barton, principal of McKinley High School and member of AFSA Local 10 in Buffalo, N.Y., knows violence. McKinley sits in a part of Buffalo where more than 18,000 crimes are committed every year, according to NeighborhoodScout.com. Even with these statistics, she still doesn’t think educators should carry guns.

“Educators are not members of police departments or special forces,” said Barton. “We are teachers, counselors and administrators. Carrying firearms is not part of our daily responsibilities.”

Those opposed to the idea think this tactic may be more dangerous than beneficial. By increasing the amount of firearms in schools, it also increases the potential danger to faculty and students. Schools can exhaust other precautionary actions, like hiring armed guards and better securing windows and doors before implementing such drastic and potentially dangerous measures, these opponents say.

Barton does think faculty should be trained in emergency circumstances, but not to wield firearms themselves.

Image from istock photo

Image from istock photo

“Schools must train and prepare teachers and support staff to look for the specific signs and indicators that point to potential violence,” she said. “Support staff must be dedicated specifically to deal with threats, bullying and community problems.”

As the U.S. Senate voted to block the expansion of gun control, it served as a severe blow to all those who have lost innocent loved ones to gun violence, especially those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

“Their unwillingness to deal with the issue is a direct result of corporate intervention,” a frustrated Barton said. “This continues to jeopardize the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators across the country and the lives of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in our neighborhoods.”

While the vote initially was supposed to be the first of many in a debate that it was assumed would take days or weeks, the Senate leaders decided to rush the process when they learned its chances began to fade.

Opponents of gun control from both parties said they based their decision on logic, and that passions had no place in the making of momentous policy.

Obama’s Rare Outrage

President Obama, who has made gun control a top priority for his second term, referred to the vote as a “pretty shameful day for Washington.” The sight of Sandy Hook students and their families in the Senate gallery was not enough to force those voting to reconsider their positions.

Those in strong opposition to gun control, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), blanketed the Senate with phone calls, e-mails and letters. The NRA also created an advertising campaign targeting President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a strong gun control advocate. On the day of the Senate vote, the organization spent more than $500,000 on this campaign.

Barton said educators are on the front lines in terms of fighting for gun control.

“When it comes to fighting [on] gun control, we [AFSA] must and do use our very loud voices on the front line,” she said. “The problem of guns in our communities is growing, and our communities are shrinking as a result.”