I made the mistake the other day of engaging someone on Facebook about arming teachers. She argued for the arming of schoolteachers because… Well, see her rationale:
“My question to you is why do we guard money insured by the fdic with guns and not our children?
Our politicians (even anti gun ones) are guarded by personnel with guns. Why not our children?
Bernie sanders participated in the school walk out and was with armed personnel. Why not our children?
Celebrities are guarded by armed personnel. Why not our children.
Money gets picked up from retail establishments by armed personnel in an armored vehicle. Why don’t our children get protected in the same way?
In downtown Chicago store keepers are starting to hire security because the police response time is too slow. Why do we let it be enough for our children?”
Whew! That’s a lot to unpack. And did you notice the false equivalence in some of these arguments? (Wait… Did she suggest we use children to guard the money instead of guns? Am I reading all this wrong?)
First, according to the FBI, there were over 4,200 robberies of banking institutions in 2016 in the United States, with over 90,000 bank branches in existence. Meanwhile, according to a watchdog group, there were just under 50 school shootings in 2016 in the United States. As tragic and horrific as shootings at schools are, they are still a very rare occurrence given that there are over 98,000 public schools in the United States, and about 30,000 private schools.
If anything, I would argue that we need to get rid of armed guards at banks as well, since the money is insured, most of us are moving to electronic funds transfers, and robbing a bank is not what it used to be:
But what about the other arguments? Well, they’re kind of the same. The commenter is equating a politician and a child, and their child with the child of a celebrity. I hope that anyone just a little bit rational can tell the difference. Magnicide can have huge consequences. Celebrity children can be attacked because they’re so “out there” in the public eye. The average child going to a school in a random place in the United States has greater risks to their health than shooting right now. The balance of risk changes if we arm teachers.
As for the final comment that Chicago store owners are hiring armed guards, the statement is somewhat true. But it’s a matter of optics, not need:
“The area is popular for tourists and shoppers. According to the Chicago Loop Alliance, an estimated 2 million people hit the sidewalks of State Street every week, and that was reason enough for the business group to hire two armed guards.
“We’ve been thinking about this for over a year and recent events extremely unfortunate, but stakeholders feeling like we just need a little more effort to maintain certain level of civility on the street,” said Michael Edwards, CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance.
Two days ago, Chicago police arrested three men in a chase on the Riverwalk. Officers say the trio had just robbed someone near West Wacker Drive and two weeks ago, a high-profile shooting near the Thompson Center cost a Chicago police commander his life.
The guards will be on duty Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will be patrolling at various times midday and in the evening, and that will increase during the summer.”
Two armed guards to guard 2 million people? I certainly hope the bad guys don’t get a hold of this kind of “intelligence.”
The debate over where and when to use firearms — and who should be using them — is very heated right now because we keep seeing children getting hurt and killed in places where they should be safe. They are getting killed at school in mass shootings and at home where there are unsecured guns or guns being handled improperly. Then there is the fact that we humans cannot measure risk properly.
Yes, firearm deaths are a big burden on society, and we should pursue policies and cultural changes that make firearms safe or obsolete in homes with children at the very least and in society in general at the most. A home with a gun should be an anachronism, something to remind us of a more uncivilized time and not something to be celebrated as a badge of manhood.
I sincerely wish that politicians looking at ways to reduce and prevent gun violence don’t give into the arguments put forth like the person above did. We need better, smarter laws, not more laws. It needs to be incredibly painful to misuse (or misplace, or misappropriate) a firearm in terms of punishments and fines. And we need new and better epidemiology to look into the numbers so that we don’t give in to passion-filled, evidence-less arguments when it comes to such a serious discussion.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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