Should school police be armed?

Debate is raging over whether or not School Police in Baltimore City should be permitted to carry loaded guns in school. (Photo: Missy Hunter)

By Paris Smith

Education is important. Everyone tells you and you know this. But isn’t your safety and well-being just as important or even more important?

But not everyone agrees about what will make us safer. Currently school police in Baltimore City Public Schools are not permitted to carry guns inside the schools. Some people, including the majority of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, want to have guns in school to give the school police. They believe that guns will protect the students and everyone in the school. The main reason is the school shootings that have taken place all over the country. They want to put a stop to this problem because it is one of the most dangerous things to happen in schools.

“Having an unarmed officer is like having an empty fire extinguisher, it’s just there for looks and has no use in a real emergency.”, said Mr. Jason Casey, the EMT pathway teacher at Patterson. “In this day and age, we face more and more violence in places we could have never imagined.  If our political leaders and ‘celebrities’ have armed security, I think our children should also.  Those who wish to do harm will always find a way to harm others; we should be at the ready.”

Yet others have a different opinion: that guns are too dangerous for school, even in the hands of school police. They do not agree that it will make the schools safe but rather that it will put students in more danger then before. It could cause the danger that we are trying to prevent–school shooting–if a student or intruder grabs a school police officer’s gun and fires it. The school police might also use their guns to shoot a student in a situation that could have been handled without the use of guns. Because of several cases of unarmed black youths who have been shot and killed by police in the past few years, many students of color are unsafe having armed police in their schools.

Mr. Jesse Schniederman is a teacher at Frederick Douglass High School, where a staff member was shot by an adult visitor to the school in February. In spite of what occurred at his school, Schniederman is still convinced that arming school police is not the answer.

“Research shows that armed police don’t stop school shootings.”, Schniederman told the Patterson Press. “Even without evidence that this policy is misguided and ineffective, the presence of armed police in schools can negatively impact kids who have only known police as oppressors and who deal with gun violence routinely in their non-school lives.”

Schniederman also criticized the School Board’s recommendation to overturn the current restrictions on school police carrying weapons inside schools. “The process by which the School Board voted to allow guns in schools was a violation of the Open Meetings Act.”, Schniederman claims. “The school police union got to speak for extended time with specialty groups, despite not being on the agenda. The union head, Sgt. Boatwright, was spoon-fed easy questions by the School Board while myself and other advocates against were asked to provide printed out copies of the research backing up our statements.”

On the opposite extreme, some decision-makers have been thinking about giving guns not just to school police but also to teachers, to make sure the teachers and students are safe. This can have its pros and cons. The teachers can protect their classrooms in emergencies when we lock all doors and stay safe in the area, but teachers could also hurt a student. Some teachers may feel threatened because in other schools they have had problems with students putting their hands on a teacher or instructor. In a situation like that, a teacher might panic and reach for their gun. A gun could also go off by accident, injuring or killing the teacher or a student.

What is your opinion on this topic and how do you feel about this danger or new safety that could either help us or hurt us in school? To better understand the issue, you can find more information from staff, teachers, and students, and articles and videos from the Real News Network, where some of the information for this article came from.

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