The Dec. 14 massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, terrified parents across the country and started an emotional national debate over guns and school security. Some of those parents, including President Barack Obama, called for tougher gun restrictions.
The National Rifle Association countered with “arm the teachers.” Gun clubs claim hundreds of teachers are applying for free weapons training. Two hundred people showed up for a class in West Valley City, Utah, outside Salt Lake City, on December 27, 2012, for example. Not all of the people who took the course were teachers. But some were, including Carolyn Cain, who teaches special education kids in kindergarten to the 6th grade in Utah County, Utah.
“When I was watching the news and listening to those teachers’ stories I couldn’t help but put myself in their shoes and wonder what would I do,” said Cain. “And I wanted options.”
Cain said she learned that the state of Utah has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons at school for 12 years now, without being required to notify parents or students.
“Do you think parents have a right to know?” Schultz asked.
“Not necessarily, not necessarily” Cain responded. “If [parents] watch the news, if they are interested in the law, they know that it’s possible that a teacher might be carrying a firearm and so they would know that it’s possible that that could be happening at their school and then that’s a choice that they make.”
A new poll shows most Americans think arming teachers is the wrong answer. Only 27% want teachers to carry guns. 64% oppose it. The biggest teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association (representing a total of 4.5 million teachers), say guns have no place in our schools.
And it’s easy to understand why. In 2010, guns killed seven children and young adults every single day. That’s an average of seven people between the ages of one and 24 getting shot and killed every day. Guns killed more kids than cancer, heart disease, flu or infection in 2010.
Gun advocates claim they’re teaching safety. And they argue that a gun can buy a teacher some valuable time in an emergency.
Cain concedes she has not yet decided how she’s going to carry and store the weapon at school, but is confident she will find “safe options.”
She says the issue of arming teachers should be left to local and state governments decide. She also opposes a ban on assault weapons. “An assault weapons ban doesn’t mean that criminals couldn’t get them,” Cain said.