Op-Ed

Can we really expect a teacher to shoot a troubled student — without hesitation?

Associated Press

I was always taught “use the right tool for the job,” and in over four decades as an adult that lesson has proven true.

Senate Resolution 172 in the Kentucky legislature is intended to encourage teachers to carry guns, to be the line of defense for students in Kentucky schools. It is a fatally flawed solution from folks who learned another lesson about tools: “If all you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” — the National Rifle Association solution.

I can write all day about the logistical questions. Who designs the training? What criteria and standards? Who pays for it? Who pays for continuing education? What is the liability to the teachers, the school, the state? Who insures whom?

What weapons will they use? Who defines the standards? Who pays for the weapon? Who “owns” the gun? Where is the gun stored away from inquisitive fingers?

What are the rules of engagement?

Now, each of those questions can be a paragraph. They are very important, and before putting a mechanism in place where deadly force is possible, they must be answered clearly and without NRA obfuscation.

NYPD trained police officers have an 18 percent hit rate when they confront a bad guy. You have to wonder where the other 82 percent of bullets will land in a classroom or school hall full of panicking kids.

But let’s skip the logistics and liability and orders of battle questions for the time being and get to the heart of what we are doing — asking teachers to be willing to shoot and kill students.

When the teachers train, the “bad guy” is a cop, barking threats and presenting as a dangerous threat. But when that teacher turns the corner, when he/she puts eyes on the threat, it is very possible that it is a former student, a child they have watched grow up in the school, and that threat might even be a friend of one of their own children.

They are no longer facing a barking, intimidating threat; they are facing one of the children they taught, that very kid who was the reason for becoming a teacher in the first place. To make a difference.

And in that hesitation — and only a sociopath would not hesitate — the teacher with a gun is now a victim.

The right tool for the job is more expensive — armed guards and metal detectors — but this is not a parlor discussion; lives depend on picking the right tool for this job.

Mark Bryant of Lexington is executive director of the Gun Violence Archive, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that provides near-real time data on the toll of gun violence in America.

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