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The second amendment debate continues

The second amendment debate continues

Following the tragic death of 17 students at the hands of a school shooter in Florida last week, the debate about gun control in America has been reignited with venom. 

The students involved have been involuntarily thrust into the global spotlight as the world seeks to make sense of this senseless event, and wonders how this can happen in an allegedly civilised country.

The students themselves, in the majority, are calling for stricter laws about gun control and what types of guns people can own. They quite reasonably argue that the vast majority of American citizens have no need to own a semi-automatic, military-grade assault rifle.

On the other side of the debate, the NRA and its advocates argue that the second amendment in the constitution explicitly provides them the right to own guns without impediment from the authorities, and that any type of attempt to control gun ownership would be an infringement of that right. Furthermore, they say, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Regardless of your viewpoint on the subject, the issue is now so hot across the Atlantic that it seems inconceivable that law makers would fail to take some sort of action.

Trump has indicated he’d be willing to enact stricter background checks, taking to Twitter to announce “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!”.

After initially seeming to concede that greater control should be placed on who can purchase weapons with the ability to take down a passenger plane, Trump then apparently backtracked, taking the line of the NRA in suggesting that teachers should be armed.

According to Trump’s Twitter, “I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to (1), ....immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END! (2), ....History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT! (3), ....If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!”

The idea has invited condemnation and outright mockery from many with any experience of these types of attacks. Here we wanted to take a look at the practicalities of such a policy.

Who can have guns?

Trump says that only teachers with military or police training would be allowed to carry weapons on school premises, but doesn’t go into any detail about exactly how many teachers would possess this sort of training. He claims 20% of teachers, but that would be on the expectation that every single school in America with at least 10 teachers would have 2 ex-service personnel, which seems ludicrous. If we’re to reasonably assume that many won’t, then what will the criteria be? Who on earth would volunteer for it?

How will they be trained?

Presumably these teachers who are now armed would need to be trained. Besides the fact that many teachers aren’t exactly well paid, will this training take place within or outside school hours? Will they be paid for it? Will the school boards need to pay for substitutes to have to stand in whilst they’re trained?

What, exactly, are you going to train them in? Let’s presume you’re going to train them in armed combat, which makes them able to have a shoot-out in a school corridor, and now essentially have 20% of the entire teaching population not only armed but trained to such a high degree that if they do decide to flip out, they’re even more difficult to stop.

What are you going to arm them with?

Considering that this idea seems to work on the presumption that semi-automatic assault rifles won’t be outlawed, this means that you have to decide whether to arm teachers with pistols or machine guns.

Given that most of the recent shootings have featured an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, it seems fanciful to imagine that a teacher can do literally anything about a shooter spraying bullets with just a pistol.

Where will they be kept?

You’ve just armed 20% of the teaching population with a gun, but where will they be kept? They can choose to keep them on their person, but again that means that they have 24/7 access to a gun in possibly one of the most stressful professions around.

Alternatively, they could keep them securely locked away in a cabinet or drawer, but that means that if an active shooter arrives they need to stop what they’re doing, access the cabinet, get the weapon out, load it and then get a shot off before the average 6 minutes is up.

Where do they keep the keys? If one is misplaced then a shooter doesn’t even have to go through the pesky admin of going buying a gun because he/she knows that 20% of the class rooms in America are packed full of artillery.

Who on earth would volunteer for it?

You’re an underpaid, undervalued teacher, and you’ve just been asked to join what is essentially a militia service in order to constantly be prepared for an armed attack. If an attack does happen you need to be able to grab your weapon, voluntarily put yourself in harm’s way, identify the shooter, get a shot off, not hit anybody else, and hope to god that you identified the right person.

When you’re trying to teach a class you’ll need to be on constant state of alert, hoping your class room isn’t the first that the shooter visits.

Unless the government are going to double your wages, I really can’t see why anybody would volunteer for that.

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