This Argument Against Arming Teachers Is Hilariously Inaccurate


When the report from the state commission charged with investigating the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting came back in January, one of the key proposals was that some teachers be allowed to carry firearms on campuses to deter or intercept potential shooters.

This, needless to say, was the most controversial of the recommendations.

“I am very concerned about arming teachers,” Broward School Board member Robin Bartleman said. “I think it’s a discussion we need to have with the community. I have not found many people in favor of this. The overwhelming response I get is people don’t want teachers with guns.”

It’s the obvious reaction that many on the left have. It’s not necessarily based in fact, of course. The chief “fact” here is that guns are scary and bad, so giving teachers guns is also scary and bad. Shush, and if you get in trouble, wait for the school guards or police.

In this vein, I give you the immense stupidity that is “The stupidity of arming teachers,” an Op-Ed published by The Hill on Wednesday in which Florida International University professor Jerry Haar lays out his case against the surest, quickest line of defense against mass shooters.

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His argument opens with one of the most preposterous hypotheticals I’ve ever heard.

“Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: Katherine Gomez, a 10th grade biology teacher, frequents an indoor gun range on weekends. Pistol shooting has been a hobby of hers for the past seven years, and she is very proficient — in fact, a marksman. Slow firing at 15 yards, Katherine can hit bullseye after bullseye. She is confident that if her state were to allow teachers to carry firearms, she would have the upper hand over any armed assailant at her school,” Haar began.

“This is dead wrong. Katherine’s belief is both dangerous [and] naïve. She is not considering that one of her students whom she just failed on a major exam — a 6’4” 245 lb. linebacker on the school’s football team — could confront her and threaten her to the point of fearing for her life, at which instant she would draw her pistol from her purse only to have the football player snatch the gun away and shoot her.”

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: Katherine Gomez, a rookie cop, frequents a department gun range and receives training in firearms management. She is confident she can enforce the law.

Do you think teachers should be armed?

This is dead wrong. Her belief is both and naïve. Little does she know that the man she just pulled over is a 6’4″ MMA fighter who could confront and threaten her to the point of fearing for her life, at which instant she would draw her pistol from its holster only to have the MMA fighter snatch the gun away and shoot her.

Therefore, take guns away from cops.

Plus, Haar thinks there’s a whole gauntlet of other dangerous people who could take Gomez’s gun: “And it needn’t be a student. An angry parent or fellow teacher could threaten and physically assault Katherine. And even if she shot the assailant, it is highly unlikely a self-defense claim would stand up in court. Bear in mind, too, the three-three-three rule: almost all confrontations between two individuals occur within three feet, with no more than three shots being fired in three seconds. So Katherine’s pistol prowess on the range is irrelevant here, especially given that people are not static paper targets — they move.”

Apparently, Katherine Gomez’s world is just full of dangers. It’s interesting how it’s assumed that these dangers wouldn’t be there but for her gun and that these individuals, so willing to commit murder that they’d literally snatch the pistol from a teacher’s hand to shoot her after she drew it in self-defense, wouldn’t procure a firearm on their own.

And yes, Haar is right. Firearms training does take a bit of time and doesn’t always involve paper targets. Imagine if there were three months in a row where teachers had off and didn’t have to grade papers and teach classes or something.

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Oh, and by the way, Haar seems to intimate cops have the same problems with their own firearms as well: “Shockingly, trained law officers average only an 18-percent hit ratio in armed encounters; so why do we think a teacher would do any better? Also, 21 percent of officers killed with a handgun were shot with their own weapon — again confirming the illustration above. FBI analyses reveal that law enforcement officers suffer casualties in nearly half the incidents in which they engage the shooter to end the threat.

The idea of deterrence never factors into Haar’s thinking. Nor does the fact that an 18-percent hit ratio, when you’re firing multiple bullets, is actually fairly effective. Instead, teachers are going to be like those villains in the movies who shoot innumerable bullets at the protagonist but are never able to hit them once, because of course they are.

The rest of the article is a farrago of the usual nonsense. Of particular interest is the amount of time Haar spends on mental health and environmental factors regarding school shooters, as if addressing these are somehow mutually exclusive from letting teachers carry.

This paragraph pretty much demonstrates everything that’s wrong with his argument in a neat package: “We have known for years what needs to be done: better parenting, more mental health counseling, greater monitoring of emotionally troubled students and armed guards and metal detectors and cameras at schools. And finally, a national ban on assault rifles — the weapon of choice in mass school shootings. Note: no one hunts deer or shoots ducks with an AR-15 that fires rounds that travel three times faster than those from a handgun.”

Let’s take those seriatim. Better parenting isn’t mutually exclusive from arming teachers. Neither is monitoring emotionally troubled students. Neither are armed guards, though the fact that Haar is willing to give them guns and not trained teachers is somewhat odd; surely, the same arguments he has spent half the Op-Ed expounding on apply at some level to guards as well. Metal detectors and cameras — again, not mutually exclusive. And then there’s the ubiquitous assault rifle ban.

Haar is only half-right when he writes, “no one hunts deer or shoots ducks with an AR-15 that fires rounds that travel three times faster than those from a handgun.” AR-15s aren’t used for duck hunting. That’s obviously shotguns. As for deer, yes, people hunt them with AR-15s. The guy who pointed out Haar’s article to me in the first place, in fact, has done just that. So have plenty of other Americans. Haar comes across as a guy who doesn’t even know a gun owner but saw “Bowling for Columbine” and just figured he’d done all the research on the topic he’d ever need to.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting yet again that there’s no inherent advantage to having an AR-15 in a mass shooting. Yes, the bullets travel faster, but in an environment like a high school the difference is academic. An AR-15 is a considerably larger weapon than a handgun — which makes it more difficult to carry and conceal — and not necessarily any more effective. The reason it’s “the weapon of choice in mass school shootings” is the result of an inexorable cycle. Those in the media treat the AR-15 as scary, which means potential school shooters believe it will make them seem minatory and win them more attention. Lo and behold, it does, which makes the AR-15 more appealing to the next mentally ill attention-seeker; thus does the cycle perpetuate itself indefinitely.

Haar’s argument can be reduced to this: Teachers face a lot of threats, so make those teachers less of a threat because a gun could make their attackers more of a threat. Oh, and at every turn, there’s always Something That Could Go Wrong. He never truly considers whether a teacher could stop a mass shooting if they were armed. Other than his misleading statistics about police accuracy in armed encounters, the essential question asked by his piece goes unanswered.

Instead, we get a bunch of alarmist piffle about poor Katherine Gomez, a teacher who’s surrounded by students, teachers and (one assumes) an errant janitor or two who would snuff her out in an instant. Those unrealistic threats are never compared against the small but significant possibility that she could become the victim of a mass shooting — or that she could be the one who deters or prevents it.

There’s a reason why Samuel Colt’s mass-produced pistol was known as the “Great Equalizer.” Not only did it allow people to respond to violence against their person, it stopped it from happening in the first place. That adage remains true today. We need to make qualified, responsible teachers the equal of school shooters, not put them at the mercy of how quickly armed guards or police can respond.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture