Arming teachers to respond to deadly attacks is an unsettling concept.
Gov. Jay Nixon on July 14 vetoed legislation that would permit educators who specifically are trained for armed response to carry concealed weapons.
We understand and appreciate the motivation for the legislation.
Massacres in the schools, although rare, are a grim reality. We support exploring ways to prevent violence or, failing that, to limit its scope, not only in schools, but in all venues — workplaces, movie theaters, etc. — where massacres have occurred.
Supporters of the bill contend students’ lives could be saved by the more rapid response offered by trained, armed teachers.
We have no quarrel with that theory.
But theory does not necessarily translate effectively into the reality of an adrenalin-fueled, bloody gun battle.
Law enforcement officers — who serve as resource officers in many of our schools — train regularly and rigorously to assess and respond to the violent episodes. Under stressful situations, they must evaluate a range of unknowns regarding the number of assailants, the location and safety of potential victims, and the most effective way to intercede.
Teachers are trained to educate. Even if teachers have background and experience handling firearms, can and should they be placed in situations where they must make life-and-death decisions?
In his veto message, Nixon said: “I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers, but I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids.”
In our capacity as journalists, we have interacted with countless educators over the years. We have the utmost respect for their professionalism, dedication and compassion for their students.
Their job is teaching, and teaching must not and should not place them in a position where they must ask themselves if this is the moment when they will kill another human being.
— News Tribune, Missouri