The New York Times on Monday profiled a Missouri town where teachers are being trained on how to carry concealed firearms into school. The piece highlights the casual nature of parents’, and students’, relationship with guns, but more importantly it shows what is a common thread in schools where teachers are arming themselves: A worry that police cannot respond quickly enough to an emergency:
One of the biggest concerns of administrators and parents was that the quickest the sheriff’s department could reach Fairview, the district’s only school, would be nine minutes.
The school board, which includes a former county sheriff, worked out the details of liability coverage with Fairview’s insurance provider. Then, at an open meeting in late February, it authorized some of the school employees to undergo a training program that would certify them to carry guns on campus.
Another administrator of a school in the area worried that “it would take the Howell County Sheriff’s Department at least 15 minutes to respond to any trouble at Glenwood School on the outskirts of West Plains.”
This cuts to the heart of why the United States needs more public investment in police forces. Currently, the Republican-backed shrinking of the public sector workforce has had an enormously negative impact on the size and response time of police. That’s particularly tough for rural communities, like Fairview, Missouri, where response times are already two to three times slower than in more urban areas.
But having teachers stand in for police forces is not a real solution. Not only does it provide no solution for other people in a rural community who need to call the police, it also ignores the fact that there’s a high likelihood that putting guns in the hands of teachers, even if they’ve received proper training, will end with tragedy instead of triumph. Just look at the simple evidence that any household with a gun is more likely to have someone die by gunshot. That situation, but with many more young children, could prove much more dangerous.