Those both for and against arming teachers packed the Boone County School Board building Thursday night to debate the issue.And this opinion from Tracy Goodlette in the Enquirer:
Despite strong emotion on both sides, Boone County school officials seemed unconvinced arming teachers will make schools safer and prevent shootings.
Boone Co Supt Randy Poe (center)
No action was taken, but the board is unlikely to take this issue up anytime soon, said Karen Byrd, chairman of the Boone County School Board.
"We've heard from our educators tonight, we've heard from our principals that they do not support this," Byrd said. "We have to strongly consider what our educators feel like they can handle and can't handle."
The proposal by Boone County Constable and firearms instructor Joe Kalil to train and arm a small percentage of teachers in schools to protect against school shooters has sparked strong emotions on both sides.
Both sides presented before the safety committee of the Boone County School Board. It received a frosty reception from many in the education community.
The idea of teachers carrying guns concerns Dawn and Ken Tymula, who moved to Boone County a 1 ½ years ago from upstate New York and have three children in school system.
"I would never want my children to go to a school where the teachers are armed," Dawn Tymula told The Enquirer. "They are not trained for it. Even if they were trained for it, to add that responsibility to them would be wrong."
Jeff Smith, however, of Hebron came out to support the proposal. He had a son who graduated Conner High School in 2005.
"With everything that's happening across this country, we've seen incidences which devastates communities and parents, and I think there's an outpouring of support for an alternate solution," Smith said.
The Boone County School Board, however, on Thursday heard a series of representatives from education groups come out opposed to arming teachers. The Kentucky School Boards Association, Kentucky Education Association and Kentucky Center for School Safety were among those that urged Boone County to not arm teachers.
Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association, called arming teachers excessive.
"The ways to increase student safety do not lie in arming teachers," she said.
The sheriffs of Campbell, Kenton, Boone and Grant counties have supported the proposal.
Kalil for the past year has worked with Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig to develop the program he calls Protecting Our Students and Teachers (POST). Helmig has offered his firearms trainers and range at the Boone County Sheriff's office to train any teachers from schools interested in the program. It's open to any school district in Kentucky and Ohio. Kentucky and Ohio laws allow schools to decide who's armed. Kalil has said he will present this proposal before many different school boards, not just Boone County.
"Our program specifically deals with the three to 10 minutes where a shooting has actually started and people are waiting for a police response," Kalil said.
But many school officials fear arming teachers will create more risk than it eliminates.
Tom Haddock, a sixth grade teacher in Boone County, said a majority of teachers opposed this proposal. Haddock and other teachers in the audience favored the school finding more money to hire school resource officers instead of arming teachers.
Arming teachers creates too much of a risk, Haddock said.
"The consequences of mistakes being made by teachers with guns are too steep to be ignored and their margins of abuse too great," Haddock said.
Some supporters of the POST program believe the school board didn't give the proposal a fair hearing. Parent Carrie Cox, of Burlington, lambasted the board for giving more time to opponents of the POST program.
"I am offended that this board stacked the deck tonight instead of listening," Cox said.
The school board listened to both sides, Byrd said. Principals with the schools in Boone County and saw a POST presentation in February.
"There were some that were supportive of it, but the majority said we oppose this," Byrd said. "And in America, majority rules.
Last month, a group of sheriffs in Northern Kentucky proposed what they call the “Protecting Our Students and Teachers” program, aimed at arming teachers in schools as the first line of defense against would-be attackers. The Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America believes this proposal is irresponsible, dangerous and reckless.Tracey Goodlett is the Kentucky chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She lives in Lebanon Junction, Ky.
According to the Violence Policy Center, trained law enforcement officers hit their intended target only 20 percent of the time. It is outrageous to believe that minimally trained school personnel will be capable of taking out suspects without putting children and others at risk. This concept is purely reactionary and is not acceptable to Kentucky moms.
There is no evidence that allowing teachers and school staff to carry weapons would reduce gun violence in schools. In fact, the consensus among public health experts is that public carry does not decrease violent crime. And, laws that encourage the use of guns to defuse violent encounters – such as stand your ground laws – are actually associated with increased homicide rates.
Furthermore, while we trust our teachers and school administrators to put the health and safety of our children first, they did not sign up to provide frontline defense for our schoolchildren against gun violence. Asking them to be armed and ready to shoot it out with an attacker is unreasonable and dangerous. Not to mention the fact that shooters are often students of the schools they target – it is unconscionable to ask teachers to injure or kill the very children under their care.
No matter how much we trust our educators, a teacher’s day is filled with multiple distractions and this could easily result in unsecured guns in classrooms. Combine this likelihood with a child’s natural curiosity and you have a recipe for disaster.
In fact, pediatric researchers studied how kids behave around guns, putting boys ages 8 to 12 in an examination room, and secretly leaving an unloaded handgun in a cabinet drawer. The results were alarming – three-quarters found the gun, two-thirds picked up the gun, and one-third pulled the trigger. Moms will not allow our children to be put at risk in their own classrooms.
Gun violence in our schools is, indeed, a problem. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., there have been some 53 school shootings, 27 in K-12 schools. But instead of placing the burden on our teachers and school administrators to protect our children, our school districts should be supporting common-sense solutions that will prevent gun violence.
Keeping guns out of dangerous hands, including our children’s, is one common-sense solution. Moms Demand Action intends to educate the public on the safe storage of guns, and push for laws that hold adults accountable when children use their guns to commit acts of violence.
Our moms are also going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby to prevent expanding easy access to guns, and will push hard for measures to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, like closing loopholes in the background check system.
We encourage parents in Northern Kentucky to stand as a united front against dangerous proposals like arming teachers in schools. Contact your school districts’ school board and tell them guns don’t belong in Kentucky schools, for the health and safety of our students, teachers, volunteers and school administrators.