Mid-Missourians react to idea of arming teachers

1 year 6 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, February 22 2018 Feb 22, 2018 Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:50:00 PM CST February 22, 2018 in Top Stories
By: Caroline Peterson, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA – President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his proposal to arm teachers. KOMU 8 asked educators and other mid-Missourians how they feel about the idea as a safety precaution for schools.  

“We know that there are a lot of districts, especially rural districts, that may not have immediate access to law enforcement response" said John Warner, the Emergency Planning Coordinator for the Missouri Board of Education Safety.

He said rural districts may seek to arm teachers, but it adds a certain burden for them.

“We don’t want to take away anybody’s process for making themselves feel safer," Warner said. "The issue we have, or the way to look at this issue, is teachers have a lot of responsibilities already. They discipline the classrooms, teach the subject they have to teach and follow the guidelines they have already plus they have to keep kids safe.”

He said adding handling guns would be another major piece, and it is a job all by itself. Warner said it is important to ask if teachers are mentally prepared for handling a gun in a crowded location.

Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, said criminals do not care about following laws or statutes, and many mass shootings happen in gun-free zones.  

“These criminals are able to carry out their attacks, and no one is able to stop them with force which is what is required to stop these individuals and attacks,” Taylor said.

Parents at Ridgeway Elementary School question the idea of letting teachers carry weapons.

Veronica Manahan said, “I think arming anyone that is not law enforcement is a terrible idea and I’m absolutely opposed to it. I would take my kid out of a school that armed teachers. I’d home school him before I sent him to a school where teachers are armed.”

Martha Trammel, who has a grandchild at Ridgeway, said a teacher's place is to teach.

“I feel very confident and very comfortable that any teacher in any school would put themselves between someone who is trying to harm the children at their school. Their place is to teach,” she said.

Trammel say armed security personnel at school is acceptable.

“But to ask teachers who are trained to teach to bear arms to protect the children and themselves is grossly unfair,” she said.  

Warner said one possible solution is behavioral risk assessment training.

“It’s a team approach to being able to handle behavior issues in kids. One of the things we ask teachers to do is look for a change in the kids,” Warner said. “It’s a way to focus on this from the prevention standpoint, rather than the what do we do about the event that is happening right now.”

Warner said there is legislation about the possibility of a school protection officer.

“That is a person identified as a teacher in the district that the school district feels can handle this and would be able to do this. There is some state training that has to go into place,” Warner said “That training is outlined by the police officer standardized training.”

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