Future teachers talk about having a gun in their classrooms

Future teachers talk about having a gun in their classrooms
As the nation continues to debate over gun violence in schools, Utah looks to training its teachers to face the possibility of a shooter with guns of their own.

According to a poll by NPR.org, 57.74 percent of American voters said teachers should be allowed to carry guns at school.

“It is sad to say that it’s no longer a matter of if but when a shooting will occur,” said Lindsay Miles, secondary education major at UVU. “It makes me really uncomfortable to even think about this. I’ve thought twice about going into teaching.”

There is no consensus on if having a gun or not was a better option.

shootn'_web“Honestly, it makes me feel better, knowing that I can have a gun, that I can protect me and my kids,” said Whitney Davis, who plans to teach the second grade.

Two other education majors agreed with Davis about needing a gun in the classroom to feel safe. But when the conversation turned to whether or not the shooter was an intruder or a student, those same hard lines blurred.

“I’d like to think I could talk one of my students down,” Miles said. “But at the same time I don’t know. What if I can’t, what if there is nothing I can say?”

Especially where young children were concerned, the idea of using a gun to stop a student made a couple of the future teachers uncomfortable.

“I guess you can’t say that a sixth grader wouldn’t bring a gun, it’s not unheard of,” Kristi Michelson said.

Some admitted an inconsistency in having a gun in the classroom for the teacher and the message of non-violence that education is supposed to give.

“I would feel like such a hypocrite having a gun in my desk,” said Kate Marcus, who wants to teach English to high school students. “And who’s to say that I’d have time to go from the board to my desk, unlock it and have the gun out in time to do anything at all? Like a shooter is going to allow that to happen. And even if I heard him down the hall I don’t know that my instinct would be to take him out myself.”

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, many called for tighter gun control, but even the prospect of limited access to guns doesn’t ease the worry for others.

“People are worried about their kids,” Miles said. “It’s understandable, I don’t blame them, but I’m not sure giving teachers a gun is the answer. What would happen if somehow the students found out not only that their teacher had a gun but where it’s kept? Couldn’t that be dangerous?”

In December, the Utah Shooting Sports Council provided free gun training to teachers. Typically the training sees about 15 teachers at the event, but two weeks after the shooting in Connecticut, the USSC capped off at 200 because of seating limitations.

“I associate the sudden need to have a gun with paranoia,” Marcus said. “I don’t think giving guns to people who are [founding] their decisions in fear is a very good idea, it’s asking for something bad to happen.”

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