PRESS EDITORIAL: Don’t make guns part of educators’ teaching supplies

A resolution aimed at arming teachers was tabled by the Northern Ozaukee School Board in August and last week it was learned action on it has been put off indefinitely. That was good news, but better would be that instead of leaving the resolution on the table for future consideration, the board would have put it in the nearest wastebasket.

If the Northern Ozaukee board wants to weigh in with the state on school safety, it can certainly do better than to copy a poorly worded, politically charged resolution approved by the Germantown School Board.

A verbatim copy of that resolution was introduced for board approval by NOSD School Board member Dan Large. It calls for, among other proposals for state legislation, training school staff members in firearms use in their schools. The resolution goes on with the statement: “Soft-on-crime district attorneys and judges around the state set ridiculously low bail and weak sentences.”

The resolution may have been a self-satisfying opportunity for its Germantown author to express views about the justice system, but that personal opinion was a lame rationale for introducing guns into the teaching supplies of educators.

The measure was a reaction to the mass murder of children in a school in Uvalde, Tex. in May. But rather than a criminal turned loose on society, that killer was a teenager who was able to buy two military-style assault rifles and 375 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition designed to kill people in battle. Soft-on-crime courts and prosecutors were not factors. Soft gun laws were.

The resolution before the NOSD board deserves rejection on grounds beyond its provocative, and irrelevant, language. Adding to the normal demands made of educators by charging them with the responsibility to use guns on the job to shoot armed intruders would not make schools safer.

That belief, shared by organizations representing police chiefs, police officers, teachers and school administrators, stems from an understanding that not only is it unlikely that arming teachers would protect students, but bringing guns into schools would make them less safe.

The head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, representing the police forces of 75 large cities, put it like this: “The more guns that are coming into the equation, the more volatility and the more risk there is of somebody getting hurt.”

Police officers receive intensive, ongoing training in firearms use, certainly more than would any teacher, yet data show that even they have difficulty shooting accurately in the often chaotic confrontations with armed assailants. Children could easily be in the line of fire from the gun of a brave and well-meaning teacher.

Bringing guns to school would invite the possibility of students getting ahold of one them, say, hypothetically, the Glock 9mm in a desk drawer a teacher forgot to lock.

Beyond those realities, it is simply, fundamentally wrong to put the burden of defending schools on teachers. Students must be safe in school and teachers must have a safe work place, and those are society’s and government’s obligations to provide.

Local school boards have a role in that, of course, by ensuring that building security measures, school-staff planning for emergencies and protocols for coordination with law enforcement agencies and other first responders are in place in district schools.

And it is appropriate for school boards to call on state legislators to enact laws that could help make school safer from the perpetrators of mass shootings. The NOSD board could start by urging the Legislature to pass legislation to require background checks for all gun purchases in the state and empower law enforcement and family members with “red flag” procedures to petition courts to temporarily prevent access to guns by people exhibiting warning signs of violence.

Both measures are supported by large majorities of Wisconsin voters, including gun owners, according to a Marquette Law School poll.

If a resolution to that effect were to come from the Northern Ozaukee board, let’s hope it would be an original NOSD piece of work, and not a copy from another school district.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
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