Op-Ed Draft—Tenere84

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence in America’s Schools? Not With More Guns

In the wake of recent mass shootings, Florida became one of the many states that are allowing their teachers to carry firearms in school. In 2018, the Guardian Program, established in response to the then-recent deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, was created to allow certain Florida school staff to carry guns in schools. In May 2019, the Florida State House proposed to extend the scope of this program to teachers as well. Pleas from Democrats to consider the risks of allowing teachers to carry guns fell on deaf ears. After months of heated and emotional debate, the proposal became law in October.

The rationale of the Republicans who participated in this vote reflect a common belief of many in the GOP: to reduce mass gun violence in America’s schools, fill them with more guns. This is by no means an oversimplification of their beliefs; President Trump and his party have jumped to this simple conclusion without ever paying lip service to its possible drawbacks. Could it stop a few school shootings? Possibly, but not enough to put a dent in the problem we face. Furthermore, the negatives of this idea vastly outweigh the positives and set a dangerous precedent for America and its culture. Arming teachers with guns, despite the intention to protect children, would not only be inefficient in reducing gun violence in schools but put students and our cherished American values in greater danger as well.

One facet of the counter-productivity of arming teachers with guns proves its inefficiency: a high connection between a country’s number of guns and its number of gun deaths. According to a United Nations study, America is home to over 270,000,000 firearms (that means an average of — no kidding — 88.8 firearms out of every 100 people) and, coincidentally, has the highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world (29.7 firearm homicides per 1 million people). The rate of gun deaths in the runner-up country makes up about a third of that number. The conclusion, based off of this concrete evidence, is simple but clear: more guns leads to more gun-related deaths. Given this fact, we have little to no good reason to put our schools in the presence of more guns.

Many suppose that filling schools with guns will reduce gun violence in schools because it will deter potential school shooters. However, the opposite is true: the mere presence of guns is bound to make humans more aggressive. This phenomenon is known as the “weapons effect.” The effect was first discovered by Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage in 1967 through an experiment consisting of 100 male university students. All of them were told that they would receive, randomly, either one shock or seven shocks by a peer. Afterwards, they were told they could administer as many shocks to their peer as they wanted. Here’s the interesting part: of the 100 participants, a third were in the presence of a rifle and a revolver. In addition, half of them were told the weapons belonged to their peer, and half were told otherwise (though this ultimately had little to no effect in the outcome). The other two thirds were in the presence of either 2 badminton rackets or no objects at all. The results confirmed Berkowitz and LePage’s hypothesis: the greatest number of shocks came from participants who were in the presence of the guns. Since then, this study was successfully replicated 56 times.

This phenomenon proves to be a critical testament to the implications of trying to solve gun violence with more guns. Students, especially those at an impressionable age, could become more aggressive in school. The presence of guns would have worse effects on teachers, who are not trained to keep their cool when chaotic situations arise. Those who would perhaps be most impacted by allowing teachers to be armed at school are be minorities. Institutionalized racism has not, in fact, disappeared since the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement. Minority students in America are still punished disproportionally. According to data collected by the Department of Education, African American students, who make up 15 percent of the student body, make up 35 percent of the students who receive one suspension and 44 percent of those who are suspended more than once. Allowing racist teachers to carry guns would most likely increase the lethality of their discrimination.

People who push for arming teachers have probably not considered how arming teachers reflects American society. When schools arm teachers, they place an unnecessary burden on them: they would be obligated to become the “first responders.” When the Florida legislature discussed proposal of allowing schools to arm teachers, Republican Representative Byron Donalds of Naples argued a similar point: “…the one thing that we have to acknowledge — as unfortunate as it is — is that when a psychotic person enters a facility, a school… the first responders, the real first responders, are the school staff that love our children.” It is true that teachers tend to be the first responders in such situations. However, this does not imply that a teacher, who is trained mostly in the profession of teaching children, should not be responsible for taking down armed intruders. That’s the police’s job. Furthermore, people seeking to become teachers would be discouraged from entering into the profession out of fear that they will not be capable of protect their students with guns.

Teachers, with regard to their jobs, are exactly what they’re called and nothing else: teachers. Children should not come to school thinking they are unsafe without guns and that their teachers are their body guards. It’s been said many times but cannot be stressed enough: school is a place of learning, not guns. In addition to proving inefficient and dangerous, arming teachers would demonstrate our lack of faith in our security guards and police officers. If we cannot trust our law enforcement to make even our children feel safe, how can we call ourselves a proud and free nation?

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3 Responses to Op-Ed Draft—Tenere84

  1. davidbdale says:

    Thanks for being specific in your request, Tenere. How about a few sentences on each paragraph?

    P1. Your timeline confused me. Recent shootings prompted arming Florida teachers. Then back to 2018 when a THEN-recent shooting allowed STAFF to carry guns (not immediately clear that STAFF are different from TEACHERS). Then forward to 2019 when teachers are armed, presumably a retreat back to the first sentence claim? By then I didn’t care except as your instructor. Pleas fell on deaf ears means you side with the plaintiffs, but otherwise you don’t call the arming insane, or misguided, or catastrophic, or “destined to lead to needless additional deaths,” which, given your hidden thesis, would all be appropriate to say HERE.

    P2. There is almost no actual argument in this largely rhetorical paragraph, Tenere. It has the sound of reason and thoughtful conversation, but it makes no actual substantial claims besides: Guns in schools WILL NOT reduce mass gun violence. “Negatives outweigh positives” doesn’t persuade. “Arming teachers would be inefficient” is a restatement of the one real claim. “Would add risk” is important, but could easily be rolled into P3.

    P3. This is a fascinating argument that I respect despite its flaw. Maybe you can address it. The sheer number of guns in America DOES lead to more OVERALL gun violence, but it doesn’t meet the bar of proof that the presence of a gun in a school leads to more violence in the school. I promise I’m with you on this and wish your paragraph proved that it did, but you’d need something else to show that the gun increases the likelihood of gun violence (besides the obvious, that there can’t be a shooting in a school without a gun in the school).

    P4. Love the source. Love the story. But it doesn’t follow from the study that 1) an armed teacher couldn’t intervene and take out an active shooter, or 2) a potential shooter could never be deterred by knowing that the teachers were armed.

    Technical problem. Your test subjects first divided into thirds and then into halves, but with two-thirds left over was very hard to follow.

    P5. Again. Love the source. Love the story. But the conclusion doesn’t follow. I sense a pattern that I think can be resolved rhetorically. (And with one more piece of evidence.) You don’t want to force PROOF when likelihood is all you can suggest. Minority students are more often suspended, overwhelmingly more often expelled, and ALMOST ALONE among all students in being STRUCK OR OTHERWISE ASSAULTED by their teachers or other school staff, so we can EXPECT THEM TO BE disproportionately the victims of shootings-by-faculty.

    P6. So much good here, as in all your paragraphs. Yes arming teachers will discourage talented educators from entering the field (or the gun-happy school district). But that’s an uncomfortable fit with the “first responder material, making those same teachers seem less compassionate because they aren’t willing to put aside their principles to safeguard the children, which of course is not what you intended. Separate those claims into their own paragraphs maybe.

    The mention of the police had the unintended consequence of reminding this reader that when the shooter enters the school, the police are MUCH TOO FAR AWAY to be of any help. Cops are going to show up AFTER some kids are dead. Again, not what you intended.

    Let’s leave the grammar notes until the next polish, Tenere. You write clean text, but there are small patterns I can help with if they persist to the next draft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenere84 says:

      So you’re saying it wasn’t a banger like I clumsily guaranteed earlier. Shame.

      P1. I mangled the timeline a bit. Understood. And are you saying paragraphs dedicated to background are improper?

      P2. Right, so you’re saying it’s conversation-like, devoid of any real argument. And the “Negatives outweigh positives” is basically a low effort claim.

      P3-P6. That’s an excellent point on pushing proof. Perhaps what made this difficult for me to argue is that the question of solving gun violence depends a lot on hypotheticals/likelihood.

      So, the bottom line is I haven’t proven anything–in particular, that teachers cannot stop or deter school shooters–besides maybe that minority students would be at risk. Do you believe my overall argument has potential? Or should I change my approach to the topic, maybe salvage a few of the arguments I HAVE adequately supported?


  2. tenere84 says:

    I cut out the argument about gun violence not being a problem, seeing as there was nothing to gain and everything to lose from it. I also found a few new supports along the way.
    Could you give feedback on my current argument? And perhaps critique any possible grammar errors?


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