Will shooters surrender to the teacher’s gun?

Karina Barriga Albring

News Editor


Maria Rizzo lives with her five-year-old daughter Kyla in New Haven, Conn. Rizzo describes leaving her only child at school every day as “scary.”

She said “As a parent, I feel extremely fearful.”

Rizzo’s fear seems reasonable. According to Slate Online Magazine; since 1980, 297 people have died in the United States in shootings inside schools or college campuses.

On April 20, 1999, two senior high school students in Columbine, Colo. opened fire in their school, killing 11 students and one teacher.



Ever since, several shootings have occurred in academic related locations all over the country, from Virginia to Texas and from Colorado to Connecticut.

The latest fatal shooting occurred 144 miles away from Keene State College. Just as many students were heading back home after a semester in school, ready for gingerbread cookies, days of wrapping presents and family love, tragedy struck the New England region.

On Friday Dec. 14, at 10 a.m shooter Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and killed 20 children and six teachers.

Some pro-gun politicians and organizations consider these events as closely related to the fact that schools are treated as gun-free zones.

Days after the shootings in Newtown, some state officials such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Tennessee state Rep. Eric Watson, suggested that teachers carrying firearms into schools could prevent future massacres.

On Dec. 21, the National Rifle Association  (NRA) referred to similar actions as crucial steps to fight school shootings. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said to CNN, “Politicians […] tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

He continued saying, “Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation […] we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work, and by that I mean armed security.”

Would armed educators be able to make children safer and calm down parents?

For Rizzo, the answer is obvious. “I don’t support the idea at all. Putting a gun in classrooms is really contradictory. If we are trying to stop people from shooting each other, why would you even think of involving more guns, why expose kids even more?”

Although the Gun Free-Zone Act implies that, federally, carrying a firearm in schools is not allowed, it also states that a gun can be carried “if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the state in which the school zone is located.”

According to NBC News, there are 18 states which allow teachers to carry guns with certain written permits.

In some parts of the country, like Channing, Texas, certified NRA instructors offer free training to teachers and school staff .

The suggestions to increase children’s safety LaPierre and NRA President David Keene expressed have had strong reactions.

Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said NRA’s suggestion to train and arm teachers was “not even logical”.

She expressed, “Teachers are teachers. And if you think about elementary teachers, elementary teachers just love kids. They’re not gonna go packin’ and sit on the floor on the rug and read to the kids with a gun at their hip.”

KSC Elementary Education freshman, Lindsay Rose said she believes schools “definitely need to improve their security system.” However, she said when she becomes a school teacher, she wouldn’t like to carry a gun.

Rose expressed that it is difficult to say teachers should be armed. “All people react to different situations in a different way, even after training, some are probably just not made to use firearms.”

When asked about the issue during a press conference, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “Some people say dumb things and some say stupid things. Guns kill people. They don’t belong in schools.”

New Hampshire State Rep. and retired KSC political science professor, Chuck Weed said he disagrees strongly with his “right wing colleagues” suggestion to have teachers carry firearms.

“I don’t think the answer is to militarize schools. The more guns we have out there, the more gun-related deaths we will have. The people that say that this happening in schools because they are gun free zones are really mixing up cause and effect,” Weed said.

According to Weed, in the state of New Hampshire, it is illegal to carry a gun in a school. Regarding universities, he said, “It is a very sensible policy of the University System of New Hampshire.”

In Washington D.C., President Obama and Vice President, Joe Biden presented a plan that includes efforts to improve mental health care, school psychological and counseling system, law enforcement, school security and the federal background check system, in order to prevent future shootings in schools.

For the NRA, it comes down to arming the correct individuals. LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

For Psychology Associate Professor at KSC, Larry Welkowitz, the NRA CEO’s explanation is “nonsense.”

Welkowitz said, “If you are a psychologist, or even a college student, you know it is not as simple as some people are evil and some are good. There is a big middle ground.”

Welkowitz explained, “Many times they are not bad people. They are people who are confused, that didn’t get the support they needed, and they make really bad decisions that hurt others.”

Weed said he considers arming schools a potential for disaster. “Kids will continue to be immature and unstable and not thinking about the consequences of their actions well into the future. As long as they have access to their parents’ guns, now their teachers’ guns and to wherever they can find guns, it [shootings] will probably happen.”

According to Weed, the NRA proposal reflects an individualistic, “take care of yourself behavior.”

He said, “I wish that we all trusted each other a little more and I think the society could be arranged in many different ways to increase the trust of the people rather than to increase the distrust.”

For him, here is where community efforts in promoting social change come into the discussion.

“Rather than to be building gated communities and hiding behind them, we need to start increasing the incentive for mental health care, counseling, mentoring programs,” Weed expressed.

He said he believes “KSC has gone a long way to provide the community with alternative dispute resolutions, counseling opportunities, addressing potential suicidal behavior. I think this community cares.”

Figuring what would have happened in Sandy Hook Elementary if armed teachers and 20-year-old Adam Lanza would have encountered in a face-to-face shooting seems like a tough puzzle to solve.

Would a teacher have been able to respond to Lanza’s Bushmaster rifle?

But what if Lanza wouldn’t have had his mom’s guns in his possession that morning in Newtown, Conn.?



For more about Newtown shooting see page A10.


For more about gun control see the Equinox’s editorial on page A4.


Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted  at kbarriga@keene-equinox.com

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