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Township Residents Speak Out On Giving Teachers Guns, Overall Safety

Editor’s Note: In light of the vigorous discussion about guns in schools and school safety in general following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school, we became curious about the opinions of township residents – especially high school students – about those topics.

We sent Arnav Tolat, our chief Franklin High School correspondent, to speak with his peers about the subject, and also asked some township officials how they felt about Pres. Donald Trump’s proposal to allow school teachers to carry concealed weapons.

What follows are their responses.

First, on the question of arming teachers, here are the responses from Board of Education president Nancy LaCorte and township Chief of Police Richard Grammar, the two officials most closely associated with the topic:

LaCorte: “Teachers are trained to educate. We have professionals who are trained to defend and protect. Arming a teacher in a classroom and ensuring they know how to properly use the weapon is another encumbrance in a day filled with responsibilities.

Grammar: “I do not believe that arming teachers is the correct course of action. They have the enormous responsibility of instructing and molding our youth. This important task requires all of their attention and focus. We should not tax them further by adding a firearm into the equation. The safety of our students lies with police officers and security personnel. That is why I have collaborated with the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Ravally, to place more professional, well trained officers into our schools through the School Safety Initiative that was started last week.”

How do Franklin High School students feel about the prospect of their teachers “packing?” Arnav Tolat sought some answers:

Karinna Rao: “No. Arming teachers just adds to the problems. It creates a security dilemma where the oppressors will look towards different, bigger weapons such as grenades to attack schools with. Arming teachers is an unneeded expense that tax payers will have to pay for. Teachers would have to be taught how to use the gun and the guns would have to be bought and stored in safe areas. All of these things will be very costly for schools and the local/state/federal government. Additionally, there are many teachers who would not feel safe keeping a weapon in their classrooms, much less firing one. Background checks would have to be implemented on all teachers given that there are some pretty crazy teachers out there, such as the teacher from Texas who was arrested for sleeping with her student. I highly doubt that any parent would have felt comfortable giving that teacher a gun to protect her students (prior to her arrest). Lastly, gun violence is not just a problem in schools. It is a problem almost everywhere, from bars to performances, to places of work, etc. Arming teachers will just move the place of attack for gunmen. The attacks will just hurt more people and will be more public than just in schools.”

Mahir Singh: “No, I feel that arming teachers is a very serious responsibility which students will not respond well too. If anything, select security staff should be advised to take special training courses before being armed if the school board/higher authorities ever feel the need of arming any sort of school staff.”

Ashvin Kapoor: “No because that will just create more problems. It could create more problems. A teacher can over react or react too quickly. We live in a sensitive time and with one wrong word a teacher might believe something is happening when in reality it’s nothing.”

Faizan Chippa: ” Teachers should be given arms and properly trained in using them. However, measures need to made so that they can’t take these guns home and can only be used in school.”

Name Withheld (1): “I agree with arming teachers, but only a small amount of them who have no criminal record and are trained properly. I agree with the idea that a good person with a gun can stop a bad one. But, precautions are necessary as we have seen some terrible actions by teachers in the past.”

Name Withheld (2): “I vehemently disagree with arming teachers. It is a terrible idea because it is just giving more people a “license to kill.” Teachers would have an unlimited amount of power which they can abuse easily. Imagine what an angry teacher can do to a classroom full of students. I don’t want ANY guns given to teachers.”

 

Tolat then asked the students if they felt safe in school:

Rao: ” Sometimes I feel safe but it definitely depends on the situation. Hearing about fights or threats makes me not feel safe in school. On days where there are lines of cop cars parked outside, I do not feel safe especially due to the fact that I do not know why those cop cars are there.”

Singh: ” I do feel safe in school. The teachers/security provide not only a sense of safety but also take action at the slightest instance of a quandary. Although there is sometimes congestion in the hallway due to huge crowds of students in the school to either see a fight or get to class. This is a minor annoyance more than anything, and not a major safety issue.”

Kapoor: “Yes, I feel safe.”

Chippa: “Yes, I do feel safe in school.”

Name Withheld (3): “At my school I don’t feel completely safe. I think the best way of countering the terror that is posed by gun violence is to implement better security technology. Adding metal detectors, more advanced locks for doors, and better surveillance devices would be much more helpful than having teachers carry around guns which is a solution that has been going around in the news recently.”

Name Withheld (1): “Yes.”

Name Withheld (2): “Yes, I do. The security guards and deans do a great job of protecting all students and I do not think we need more police at this time. More police isn’t a bad thing to have but funding can be used more effectively on education.”

 

Finally, Tolat asked the students what they felt should be done to reduce the threat of gun violence, and violence in general.

Rao: “Gun control is the most feasible solution to prevent school shootings and gun violence in general. It is something that would have to be implemented over time but it would be the most effective. Passing legislation to cease the sale of bump-stocks, automatic weapons, and accessories to make a weapon automatic is the first step. There must be limits on the sale of weapons that are not solely used for sport. Weapons such as rifles and pistols should be the only weapons allowed to be purchased, after a through background and mental check. The second step is to buy back/trade in the weapons and accessories in circulation that are automatic/make a weapon automatic. While this step may seem expensive, it is crucial to remove as many weapons from willing holders. While we cannot buy back every single weapon, we also cannot confiscate them because of the amendment that basically says you cannot try a person for a crime committed before it was illegal. Therefore, the government needs to then implement very strict sentences for those found using any automatic or automatic accessory in any setting, whether it be for sport or to hurt people.”

Singh: “On a nationwide level, it’s batting down on corruption which includes the legislating of extremely thorough and extensive background checks before any weapon is considered to be sold. On a more localized level, there should be strict and affirmative action taken against even the slightest threat, suspicion, or threat along with monitoring the internet of public institutions I.e schools, libraries etc.”

Kapoor: “The only way to help reduce violence is to outlaw semi automatic guns. Veterans can also be employed to protect schools. This would solve 2 problems at once. They have training and they know what to do. They are serving there country by protecting the children. It also reduces the amount of veterans who are poor and unemployed.”

Chippa: “Metal detectors are probably one of the best ways to make sure that no guns enter the school.”

Name Withheld (1): “Better background checks, gun buyback programs, constitutional changes.”

Name Withheld (2): “We need to first change America’s gun culture. Guns are normalized unlike any other developed nation. Next, we need to outlaw automatic weapons and other types of lethal guns. The founding fathers did not envision the terrible and lethal guns we have today. In schools, we need metal detectors. Mental health programs and security agencies also need to be improved.”


A “Community Safety Symposium” is set for 7 p.m. March 21 at Franklin Middle School.

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