The notion that arming teachers is the solution to gun violence in schools is ridiculous. Efforts to address school shootings by instructing teachers how to stem blood loss if someone gets shot take things to a whole new level of absurdity.
Talk about putting a Band-Aid on the problem. Schools shouldn’t be put in a position of making teachers pack heat and tourniquets because lawmakers lack the courage to strengthen gun regulations.
Yet that is the state of affairs two months after 17 students and staff were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The Florida Legislature took some steps to strengthen gun regulations but mishandled other school-safety measures, while Congress has done even less to prevent mass shootings from occurring.
An Associated Press report last week about teachers learning to use tourniquets and other techniques to stem blood loss from gunshot wounds illustrates the problem. About 125,000 teachers, counselors and administrators across the country have been trained in these techniques over the past five years as school officials have become resigned to the grim trend of school shootings, the AP reported.
“I’ve been a trauma surgeon for over 40 years and have seen a lot of gunshot wounds,” said Dr. Lenworth Jacobs, who developed the teacher triage idea after operating on victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
An elementary school massacre is “entirely different,” he said. “These are 6-year-olds with wounds from very high-powered weaponry, and it changes you.”
A sensible society’s first priority would be doing more to keep high-velocity, semi-automatic rifles — like the guns used at Douglas High and Sandy Hook Elementary — off the streets. Florida lawmakers raised the legal age at which rifles can be bought in the state to 21, but failed to ban the sale of the military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines that facilitate mass shootings.
Instead, lawmakers set aside $67 million for the so-called guardian program to arm teachers. With Marion County Public Schools and other school districts in Florida opting not to participate in the voluntary program, legislative leaders are sensibly considering allowing the money to instead be used on safety programs such as school resource officers.
Law enforcement officers should be the only people on school campuses legally permitted to carry firearms. Putting guns into the hands of teachers makes it more likely that someone will be accidentally shot than a school shooting thwarted.
Yet the Legislature not only failed to fully fund a mandate for more resource officers in schools, it did the same with $99 million in “school hardening” funding. Districts across Florida will be competing through a grant process for the money, which likely won’t be available until next year.
The state already shortchanges schools on funding for building and repairing facilities and is now doing the same with money to make those facilities safe. All of this might be laughable if not for the deadly serious consequences of our lawmakers failing to adequately protect students from gun violence.