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Op-Ed | Armed teachers have no place in our classrooms

9mm Handgun for Teacher
Photo via Getty Images

This week, the Parkland murderer will be sentenced for entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15, murdering my son and 16 other innocent members of the Parkland community. The sentencing hearing will be painful, but it will allow victims a platform to tell their stories.

After countless mass shootings in schools, places of worship, and even grocery stores, we have been making incremental progress in some areas. In many states, including New York, strides have been made to end gun violence and help communities rebuild–– but that progress is at stake.

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin recently said he favors arming teachers in our classroom. It’s dangerous, irresponsible, and won’t keep our students safe, and it is counterproductive to our goal of ending gun violence in our communities. It is NOT what my son, Scott, would have wanted if he were alive today teaching at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

Schools should be treated as sacred institutions for learning, community building, and fostering the development of the next generation. They should not be treated as another “frontline” against “mass casualty” events as Mr. Zeldin has described. 

The case is clear: in order to ensure the safety of our children and continue to keep our schools safe, we should eliminate guns from the equation, not add more. Lee Zeldin does not get it.

Despite evidence from countless experts opposing arming school personnel, including the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, the National Education Association, and the American Bar Association, Mr. Zeldin has willfully ignored the fact that the “good guy with a gun” theory is nothing more than a myth.

For those who believe that more guns create safer communities, look no further than Texas, where the state government recently allowed most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license. 

In February, a family’s worst nightmare came true. A man named Tony Earls pulled out his handgun to shoot a man who had just robbed him, but instead, he accidentally struck and killed an innocent, nearby bystander: 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez. The shooting in Houston was part of what Texas police officers have described as an increase in “spur-of-the-moment” gunfire since permitless carry was allowed. 

Putting more guns on our streets does not make our communities safer, and putting guns in classrooms will certainly not make our children safer. Lee Zeldin is not providing real solutions, he’s just providing sound bites to hide his reckless record.   

Mr. Zeldin is a staunchly pro-gun advocate who supports the repeal of concealed carry laws along with a litany of other dangerous policies that will definitively make us less safe.  

In El Paso, Buffalo, Uvalde, and St. Louis, we have seen the painful consequences of unregulated gun access time and again. How can we expect armed teachers to take down shooters when hundreds of trained law enforcement officials armed to the teeth failed to stop the massacre in Uvalde? 

My son Scott would not have wanted his classroom to be a place where the constant fear of having to defend others with a weapon would be as universal as a textbook. This week and this election day, we need to reject the idea of allowing more guns in our lives and find a path forward through commonsense reforms that keep our families and children safe. Only then will we be able to go back to teaching in our classrooms rather than defending them. 

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