By Jada Smook and Tracy McNew
Some of the parents of Troy Public School students are requesting that teachers take concealed carry classes to be more prepared in case something were to go wrong at school.
Following the deadly shooting in a Parkland, Fla. School last month, the controversy about how to stop mass shootings and more specifically school shootings, has ignited renewed passion.
The conversations are occurring on a local and a national level. According to everytownresearch.org, a website managed by an advocacy group that tracks gun violence, there have been an estimated 291 school shootings in the past five years in the United States. That is an average of one per week.
In a Feb. 24 tweet, President Trump addressed the idea of arming teachers. He posted “Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again—a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”
According to a Feb. 28 press release, Montana’s Senator Steve Daines agrees with this approach as well. “We must protect our children by securing our schools from the inside,” said Daines. “These cowards can be stopped by deadly force.”
A 2013 report on school safety also recommended that willing employees should be trained and armed.
On the other side of the coin, there have been many protests around the county of people demanding stricter gun laws and a ban on assault rifles.
Teachers, police and emergency medical workers have spoken up about the dangers of having more firearms in our schools too. National Education Association’s President Lily Eskelsen Garcia discussed the idea on CBS This Morning. She said, “This does not pass any common-sense test whatsoever.”
Social media and hashtags such as #NeverAgain and #Enough have encouraged students and people against guns to organize marches and protests to get their points across. A nationwide walk out by some teachers and students is planned for March 14 according to The Wall Street Journal.
In a scare closer to home, last month an 18 year old student was arrested for posting a threat to shoot up the school in Darby, Mont. on social media. The student posted to wear a red shirt if you wanted to live. He posted a video of the Florida school shooting on social media with the caption “coming to Darby soon.” He admitted to doing all of this, but stated that it was just a joke and he wasn’t actually going to follow through.
Troy parent Jennifer Meyers has children in Morrison Elementary and is scared for their safety. This has motivated her to start a petition for getting teachers more prepared for such catastrophes. The petition states that teachers should be prepared in ways of carrying a nonlethal weapon such as tasers, and guns with rubber bullets, she said.
The petition was started because “there are school shootings every week. Times are changing and the schools need to change with it to know how to keep students and teachers safe.”
Meyers has taken measures to teach her kids how to be safe in these situations. “In a few shootings, the shooter set off the fire alarm, leaving the students at a pretty susceptible position to be put in harm’s way.” She has taught her kids that if the fire alarm ever goes off at school, then to pay attention to what is going on around them and be cautious for any unknown faces that look suspicious.
Troy’s superintendent, Jacob Francom, said that he agrees with the suggestion about increasing the age to buy semi-automatic guns to 21 in order to try and prevent school shootings as much as possible.
Walmart and Dicks Sporting Goods have recently adopted policies against selling firearms to people under the age of 21.
When asked what Francom thought about the petition he stated, “I think we need to do whatever we can to keep our students safe.”
So far, Meyers has had 60 people sign her petition and her goal is to get to 200-300 by March 13 for the Troy school board meeting where she will be speaking in regards to this matter. Multiple people have even taken a blank copy of the petition to help get more signatures.
She has not tried to get any teachers to sign yet, just people that she passes on the street and in stores, but she has heard that some teachers are for this matter and some are against it.
Even those who are against the petition are likely to agree that the rising number of school shootings are a real concern and protecting our children from ever having to go through what the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. went through last month is a priority.