This takes the arming of teachers and principals idea to an entire new level. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has proposed having at least one teacher or the principal at every school having a gun. The same idea has been proposed around the country. Thinkers that are more cautious have criticized it by noting that the presence of guns, particularly in the hands of non-law enforcement personnel, is not a particularly great idea in schools.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has decided to one-up that idea. He is proposing placing members of his armed posse near schools where they will guard or search for armed intruders. The posse, while trained in the use of guns, is comprised of civilians, not police officers. This means Arpaio is proposing arming civilians and stationing them near schools so they can seek out other armed civilians.
This takes an idea that has a lot of problems and concerns (armed educators) and turns it into something that is totally asinine and loaded with danger.
Yet Arpaio doesn’t see things this way. Arpaio goes onto explain that the posse is trained just as thoroughly in the use of guns as his deputies. Of course, deputy training involves more than just gun use. If this idea caught on and was used everywhere in the country, then it would save scarce school resources for education instead of security. That is about the only positive thing that can be said for it.
Traditionally, schools have been the safest place for children. Tragedies like Newtown need a solution, but placing guns at schools is a knee-jerk reaction. Having armed civilians with guns near schools is a potential for mini-disasters like Newtown.
The posse lacks the training of regular law enforcement. Instead of only armed lunatics shooting up schools, an array of new problems may arise. There is the potenial for accidential shootings. An argument between parents, school officials or neighbors would normally be settled on its own, but a posse member with his gun is going to be drawn to it. A firearm is dangerous mix in that situation. In general, more firearms theatens the historical safe-haven nature of schools by upping the possibility of violent outcomes.
Amidst all this, there is a larger issue. Schools have never had to be protected by armed guards before. The problem is with modern society. If schools are going to be loaded with guards, does anyone think it is going to stop there? What happens when the next killers go to parks, malls or libraries? Are armed guards going to be placed there? There is always a place where people will congregate. Do we need armed guards at every one of those places? That’s where the solution of placing armed guards in schools will lead us. It is a precedent-maker. That is the ultimate question at stake. Do we want a police-like state where armed guards are on every corner?
The alternative is to probe deeper into the problem and find real solutions, not quick and easy ones. Banning assault rifles, increasing mental health funding, offering other forms of school security that doesn’t include guns are potentials. The solutions take thought and time, not a quick lets put guns in schools reaction.