Think about arming teachers

To the editor:

Recently this country found itself mourning, yet again, the loss of several innocent lives at the hands of a mass shooter with a semi-automatic weapon acquired legally. As usual there’d been warning signs and as usual there was blame looking to be placed and cries of “too soon.” But this time, the debate has not abated. This time there’s real hope for change, and some of the proposed changes have been good ideas; others not so much.

Whenever this dispute comes up, there are proposals from both sides; ideas for how to solve the problem, and one common idea to reduce the number of deaths from active shooter situations in our public schools, which the president floated while meeting with students from Parkland, Fla., is to arm 20 percent of all teachers, so let’s examine this proposal.

In the case of schools, we are talking about rooms full of rambunctious children. There are going to be accidents. So how many armed classrooms are we talking about exactly, and how many accidental shootings should we expect vs. how many innocent deaths can we hope to prevent?

According to a New York Times study, there were 239 school shootings of various descriptions between 2012 and 2018 resulting in 300 injuries and 138 deaths. That’s 50 injuries per year and 23 deaths.

According to Infoplease.com, at the time of the last census there were 98,817 public schools in the U.S. NCES says these average 21.6 students per classroom, and the average enrollment at the last census averaged 517 kids per public school. This means there are roughly 24 classrooms per school for a grand total of 2,371,608 classrooms nationwide; and according to the Center for Public Education, our children spend roughly 180 days per year in school. That’s not counting extra-curricular time or summer school.

So, let’s look at the data on accidental gun discharges in the general population. For the sake of this discussion we’ll ignore intentional shootings.

ConcealedCarry.com did a study on reported cases of accidental discharge in the U.S. for the period of 2014 to 2016 and found there were 300 cases reported. That’s what was reported, not necessarily all that occurred. Of those, 195 resulted in injury and 94 resulted in death. So, per 100 cases, 64 resulted in injury and 31 deaths.

Let’s conservatively presume an accidental discharge rate of 1 for .00005 percent of all armed classrooms (23) per month nationwide. That’s 213.4 accidental shootings per nine-month school year or 1.2 per day. Then, when we apply the percentages from Concealed Carry, we get 136.5 injured students and 66 killed every year on accident just from putting a loaded gun in every classroom to “protect” the kids.

Compared to the 23 deaths per year from intentional school shootings, 66 potential accidental deaths seem like the opposite of a solution, unless your definition of “solution” is when the cure is nearly three times worse than the disease. But maybe that’s just me. What do you think?

J. David Core

Toronto

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