The reaction to the murder of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has been markedly different than the reaction to previous school shootings. A political movement has fomented and media coverage has been sustained. Lawmakers have even passed several new gun control bills. Included in one — and at the center of much of the rhetoric — are plans to train teachers to use guns and encourage them to carry in classes. It’s a policy solution that the president has pushed despite it not being a particularly popular idea and, now, despite cases of teachers mishandling guns in classrooms.
Yesterday, two school employees accidentally discharged firearms in front of students.In Virginia, a school resource officer, someone who has been extensively and professionally trained in firearms, accidentally fired his gun in his school office. More concerningly, a California teacher and reserve officer injured three students while delivering a lecture on gun safety. He reportedly pointed his gun at the ceiling and accidentally fired it. The bullet ricocheted into the neck of one student and injured three others. In late February, a teacher in Georgia fired a gun through a window in a barricaded classroom. He injured nobody but the school was evacuated and the students were moved to a convention center nearby.
Two of these incidents involved adult school employees with extensive gun training endangering students. None of these incidents involved an active shooter or duress of any kind. In all of these situations, the schools went on lockdown or were evacuated. All of the students — even those who were injured by the accidents — lost hours if not a full day of valuable education time in which they would have been learning. (Though one might argue they learned some important life lessons.)
Today, students from over 3,000 schools across the country are walking out of school for 17 minutes to commemorate the Parkland dead. There appears to be little support among the protesters for arming teachers. And it’s no wonder. Proximity to gun increases the risk they pose to students. Whether young voices will be heard, however, is not yet clear.