What NJ Teachers Have to Say About Arming Them in Schools
TRENTON — Arming teachers with weapons in their classroom to defend themselves and students from a gunman has been suggested by President Donald Trump as one possible detriment to gun violence in schools.
"Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them," Trump said Saturday on Twitter. "Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States."
Also favoring armed teaches is Alexander P. Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, who pointed out that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted that the FBI overlooked warning signs and a confidential tip about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman, who killed 14 students and three adults Feb. 14.
"That's why it's important that schools and individuals take shooting classes to learn how to be proficient with a firearm and to be able to protect themselves," he said. "Unfortunately, New Jersey makes that as difficult as possible."
On other side of the issue is the state's largest teachers union and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.
"Arming teachers and putting more guns in schools is not the right answer, and that’s one we flat out don’t agree with,” Murphy said upon his return from a meeting with the nation's governors.
The NJEA in a statement said arming teachers would turn schools into "armed fortresses of fear."
“Schools should be safe havens for learning and development," the union said in a statement. "They should not become armed fortresses of fear."
Teacher Mary Jane Larsen, a veteran at the three high schools in Hamilton Township in Mercer County, disagrees with the NJEA's position. She supports concealed carry of weapons by teachers who have been trained.
"If you have armed police officers, armed security guards and military veterans, you already have a military presence. I don't think the NJEA argument has any validity at this point," she told New Jersey 101.5 this week.
She believes the problem of gun violence in schools stems from security.
"Something has to be done about school violence because our schools are too porous. We have to do something about securing the schools and I think that having teachers who have a concealed carry permit would increase and heighten our security," Larsen said.
Larsen believes weapons in classrooms are part of a new reality in schools.
"In every school I teach at, teachers are very concerned about access to the school. Teacher are concerned that doorways be secured. Entrances be secured," Larsen said.
Larsen does not have any experience using firearms but said she is considering buying one.
Union High School's Nick Ferroni has the opposite opinion about arming teachers and thinks any gun introduced into any environment, including a school, increases the chances of an accidental death.
"Say every teacher had been armed in Parkland and considering the circumstance. The teacher would not know who is a threat. And if a teacher did know the threat, the Coast Guard and most Army veterans are at a 40 percent accuracy rate," Ferroni said.
He is concerned a teacher with less training would be a lot less accurate.
He also believes that teachers are too compassionate to fire a weapon even with a mass shooter roaming the halls.
"We can be trained, but I care too much about my students to take that chance of anything accidentally happening to them," he said.
"Once we get to the point where we need to consider arming teachers we need to re-evaluate society."