After the recent Senate Bill 656 was passed, teachers in Missouri will soon be able to carry guns in their classrooms. But the question for some now is do they actually want to? Following the vetoed bill from Governor Jay Nixon, lawmakers moved to override his decision. This law will enact a standardized training program for teachers who will be carrying concealed guns on school grounds.
For concealed carry enthusiasts, this sounds like great news.
Todd Brockett is a middle school teacher at Robidoux Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri. He said that while he does not oppose the law, he does have questions about how it would work. He said teachers wanted additional information about the training that would be provided to them, how armed teachers should react in case of an emergency, and if teachers would be expected to carry their firearms at all times or store them in a central location, among other topics. He made the point of saying that teachers’ training is for education, not law enforcement.
Sarah Hardin is a deputy for the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, for which she serves as the school resource officer. Although she hadn’t yet reviewed the specifics for the new law, she mentioned a few initial concerns, such as the level of training that would be required for teachers. Only basic training will permit a person to legally carry a concealed firearm, but this training does not prepare the teacher to deal with an active shooter situation.
In recent news, a Utah teacher who was carrying a concealed gun in school accidentally shot herself in the leg. These occurrences are likely to influence decisions made moving forward.
Another concern is that there could be a bit of confusion when law enforcement arrives to the scene. If the shooter is an adult, police may not be able to distinguish between a protective teacher or a threatening shooter. Hardin says,
“Conceal and carry is great when you’re defending yourself, but when law enforcement arrives and they have to figure out who is the shooter and who is defending themselves, it becomes more difficult. In that situation, I’m asking everyone to get on the ground and drop their guns. If someone doesn’t comply or turns their gun toward me, I have to respond.”
Something that Hardin and Brockett both agree with is the idea that teachers carrying guns in schools may easily deter people from even attempting a school shooting.
Hardin had one piece of advice to improve the law. She believes that if schools are going to permit employees to carry guns, they should permit the school janitors of all people to be in charge of carrying concealed guns. This is because, historically speaking, school shooters have always focused their targets on teachers, students, and administrators, not school janitors. Arming the janitors with concealed guns may outsmart school shooters, as they are not typically targets during a shooting.
Essentially, it is agreed that teachers just might not be the best people to arm with guns. Hardin says,
“I agree with people looking into ways of making the response faster and reducing the loss of life, but I don’t know if the teacher is the best person to have the gun.”