Less than two months removed from the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Americans are still trying to figure out the best way to reduce gun violence in schools. Some want guns banned altogether while others want to arm teachers. School administrators in Millcreek, Pennsylvania, had another idea entirely: The school district announced this week that it would arm its 500 teachers with tiny baseball bats, as a last-resort safety measure in the event of a school shooting.
“It is the last resort,” Millcreek School District Superintendent William Hall told Erie News Now. “But, it is an option and something we want people to be aware of.”
Hall said that the 16-inch mini bats were distributed to all teachers following a day of training on how best to respond to a school shooter. While he acknowledged that the bats were mostly “symbolic” and will be locked up in the classrooms, the superintendent felt it was important to give the teachers an option to fight back if they ever ended up in the middle of an incident at school. Millcreek Education Association president Jon Cacchione voiced his support for the unconventional safety measure.
“This is a tool to have in the event we have nothing else,” said Cacchione. “Part of the formula now is to fight back, and so I think the bats that were provided for the staff were symbolic of that.”
The decision to give teachers miniature baseball bats in order to make classrooms safer has, unsurprisingly, been met with a lot of backlash online. Most questioned the effectiveness of the tiny bat, saying that it would be nearly impossible for a teacher to use a mini bat to protect their students from someone with a gun.
"According to Hall, the 16-inch bats were distributed to each teacher, following an in-service training day on how to respond to school shootings."
Dafuq are they supposed to do with a 16" baseball bat? https://t.co/FeJ3SrkrFE
— Leqsee (@Leqsee) April 11, 2018
Others felt that Millcreek’s new safety measure was another attempt to derail the larger conversation our country needs to have about guns.
the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy in a pennsylvania school district with a mini baseball bat https://t.co/vBkRfofsN5
— maya kosoff (@mekosoff) April 12, 2018
Hall said that the district had also conducted an online survey asking if people would be comfortable with Millcreek teachers carrying guns, assuming it became legal to arm teachers. The majority of those surveyed said they would support giving guns to teachers.
“We thought just putting that one question out there would give us an idea as to how the community felt,” said Hall. “It was about 70 percent to 30 percent that people favored it, but we’re not really actively planning that right now.”