Poll: Burroughs Faculty Oppose Arming Teachers

Gabe Fleisher, Junior Edito-in-Chief

Nearly all Burroughs faculty members oppose arming teachers, a poll conducted by The World has found.

Amid the debate over school safety sparked by the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, training and arming teachers has been one of the most prominent proposals offered. Backers of the concept include President Donald Trump, who tweeted that “Armed Educations (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them,” adding that teachers should be “firearms adept & have annual training” and receive a “yearly bonus” for carrying guns. If the proposal is adopted, “Shootings will not happen again —a big & very inexpensive deterrent,” he said.

However, a survey of 79 Burroughs faculty members found that just three — 3.8 percent —would support having armed teachers on campus and believed it would make schools safer. The remaining 96.2 percent said that they would not support allowing teachers to carry guns and that it would make schools more dangerous. “Arming teachers will certainly increase the number of students killed by teachers, and that is unacceptable,” one JBS faculty member said anonymously. “I believe that shooters will do their evil deeds regardless of who is armed,” another responded.

The near-unanimous consensus was highly critical of those who advocate for giving teachers guns — responses included calling the proposal “absolutely a bad idea, “an utterly ridiculous idea,” “just plain stupid,” “preposterous,” and “a tragedy waiting to happen.” One faculty member went so far as to say, “People are cray cray! Who wants to give a gun to the same crazy teacher that can’t click through their own PowerPoint slide show?”

“Do we arm doctors and nurses at hospitals? Do we arm our priests and rabbis at places of worship?” one faculty member asked. “Would you ask police officers to be prepared to tutor someone in an emergency?” another added, testing the converse. “Teachers are here to teach, not shoot,” a teacher said. “Fighting fire with fire almost never works,” another concluded.

While arming teachers was widely panned, just 5.2 percent said they thought Burroughs was “very protected” from a school shooting situation; 66.2 percent of the faculty surveyed said that the school is “not very protected,” while 26.6 percent said that Burroughs is “somewhat protected” from a school shooting.

Many teachers proposed alternative ways to make Burroughs safer, including the addition of school resource officers, more secure locks, changes to how visitors are allowed in and identified, and the enhancement of mental health programs.

“To make JBS safer would necessitate a fundamental change in the way the school looks and feels. Students, parents, faculty, and staff would have to weigh what a locked-down, hard-target environment would do to the school culture and the way we interact with each other and the public,” history teacher Mark Nicholas said. “I see no easy answers to such questions, but exploring changes to the physical environment of the campus would need to take into consideration what those changes would mean for the way we conduct our everyday lives at what, to me, has often felt like a home away from home.”