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The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
Photo Gallery: JROTC @Daytona Beach Drill World Championships
Photo Gallery: JROTC @Daytona Beach Drill World Championships
Gisely Argueta, Phototgrapher • Published May 8, 2024
Exam schedule posted
Exam schedule posted
Staff ReportPublished May 8, 2024
Laptop collection day set for Thursday, May 16
Laptop collection day set for Thursday, May 16
Staff ReportPublished May 6, 2024

Arm teachers? It’s a wrong solution to the wrong problem

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This editorial does not reflect the official opinion of West Creek High School’s administration or staff or the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

The Tennessee State Senate thinks it is okay for teachers and administrators to pack heat in schools. All in the name of “school security,” apparently. On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, the Senate passed a bill allowing teachers and staff in K-12 schools to carry concealed handguns on school grounds.

This is the most foolish legislative proposition since, well, last April when Governor Bill Lee signed into law legislation that makes it a Class E felony for a book publisher, distributor, or seller to knowingly sell or distribute obscene matter to a public school serving any of the grades K-12.

The Senate passed S.B. 1325 by a 26-5 party-line vote. This reveals how our Republican senators feel about educators’ abilities to protect students. Teachers cannot be trusted to recommend books to students, yet they can be trusted to shoot classroom intruders. 

This is not to disparage teachers, who are some of the most dedicated professionals, but would you trust some teachers with a gun? This bill, if passed, prevents parents and students and even other teachers from knowing which teacher had a gun. Would you want your child in a class every day not knowing if the teacher had a gun? Where is the teacher going to “conceal” the gun? If it’s truly concealed, it won’t be in a holster on a belt. Is it going to be in a desk? In a drawer? What happens if a student finds it? What happens if the teacher has to break up a fight and a student grabs it, concealed or not?

All of the above is not to mention whether a teacher with a gun can even shoot a student, another teacher, parent or an intruder. Shooting a gun is not easy, and shooting a bullet at an actual person is even harder.

It seems our senators passed a wrong solution for the wrong problem. They’re saying that there is nothing else they can do to prevent school shootings when there’s plenty they can do. Governor Lee, after the Covenant School shooting in Nashville last year, called the legislature into special session. One of his proposals was a red-flag law, which would have taken guns away from people who were deemed mentally at risk of violence.

It seems our senators passed a wrong solution for the wrong problem.

In April 2023, Lee said, “We all agree that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons. And that should be done in a way that requires due process and a high burden of proof, supports law enforcement and punishes false reporting, enhances mental health support, and preserves the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens.”

But guess what? The legislature failed to do anything. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. This was a dominantly Republican legislature with a Republican governor, not a divided government.

To make matters worse, on April 11, the Senate approved SB2763, which prohibits city and county governments from enacting their own red flag laws. 

The bill, to its credit, doesn’t allow just any educator to carry a gun. The educator would have to be authorized by the director of school, principal of the school and the chief of the local law enforcement agency. He or she would also have to go through a background check and psychiatric evaluation. Lastly, he or she would have to complete 40 hours in basic training for school policing and 40 hours of Peace Officer’s Standards and Training specific to school policing.

This is all well and good, but we already have people like this in our schools who have more training than this: our school resource officers. At least two are in the school building every day, Officers Prather and Spencer. How many more guns are needed in the building? 

Proponents of the bill claim that it is to help rural school districts who do not have the resources for school resource officers. Yet, the House passed a bill in August 2023 that would authorize a law enforcement agency to place an officer in every school wasn’t even considered by the Senate. The primary reason it didn’t pass, among others, involved who would pay for the school resource officers. I find this to be a ridiculous reason, though, because Tennessee sat on a budget surplus of $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2022.  

This bill should not be signed into law because too many variables exist. It is not the best solution to the problem of school shootings. This is a societal issue that needs to be examined through the active lens of how to prevent school shootings, not the reactive lens of what to do when it is happening. It is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

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