Arming teachers a bad lesson

opinion February 26, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

Trump gives America more bad news with controversial idea after spate of school shootings



Donald Trump just keeps outdoing himself, especially when it comes to lamentable or weird ideas. Facing an embarrassing fact that close to 20 shootings in US schools have happened just this year, with February not even over yet, he has suggested that arming teachers would be a good measure. Trump may yet change his mind, but for a president of the United States to come up with that in the first place is extraordinary, but not in a good way.

The embattled advocates of the “right-to-arms” ideology may be proud of the fact that such an extreme idea was even considered. However, those wanting more strict gun-control regulations in the wake of the latest gun-related tragedy must be dismayed. Gun politics is intense and pervasive in America, and Trump’s apparent support for a key argument used by those backing liberal gun ownership must have taken the wind out of the anti-gun camp’s sails.

There are plenty of reasons why teachers should not be armed. First and foremost, “the right to bear arms” is an ideology that allows firearms to proliferate in America, leading to one tragedy after another. To invoke the controversial ideology in trying to solve a problem that the very ideology is responsible for is absurdity. Then there is the issue of the mental states of Americans who have committed mass killings. Most, if not all, of them were suicidal, and their future counterparts or copycats will not be different. This means whether or not teachers are armed is irrelevant. Suicidal killers cannot be deterred. It is as simple as that.

Trump thinks all the mass killers are “cowards”, who will never walk into a school if they know the teachers have gun. He cannot be more wrong. And even if he was right, “cowards” with greater numbers and firepower could always win. Records show certain mass shootings were “team efforts”.

Another thing that springs to mind is the question how Trump is so sure weapons given to teachers will be used against psycho killers only. Statistics have been overwhelming about domestic guns being used more against family members, friends or acquaintances than criminals or strangers. Will it be different with the teachers?

There is also the so-called slippery slope situation. If teachers can have it, why can’t students, too? And, certainly, the question does not end there. The dangerous gun culture can become even more pervasive and keep feeding on itself. 

Trump has entertained many other questionable or downright bad ideas. This one, however, puts a glaring spotlight on the issue of who he does represent and should be working for. Arming teachers is a proposal that makes ordinary citizens frown, but satisfies the gun industry. One elected him as their president, while the other has been wielding influence over his supposedly sacred office.

He is belligerent, as his work records have shown in a short amount of time. That doesn’t mean, though, that he should make his country belligerent, too. One sure way to make a person aggressive is giving her or him a gun. But that is not the only concern. On the diplomatic level, the proposal to arm teachers reflects badly on the already shaky image of the United States. The idea embodies all the anti-US perceptions – the mentality of hostile pre-emption, the mistrust, the hypocrisy (imagine a Third World leader coming up with a similar plan) and the eye-for-an-eye approach that always goes horribly wrong.