If gun laws won’t change, is it time to #ArmTheTeachers?

“The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

This was what @onesoldiersmom tweeted in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on 14th February.


It’s certainly an intriguing idea. A very tempting solution, since gun control is so strongly resisted in the United States, which has just seen its 18th school shooting in 2018 – and it’s only February.

Despite the carnage, nothing looks set to change. The current POTUS won’t even mention the word “gun” in his statement to the country about the massacre.

But the American public is getting angrier. And more worried. And now they’re starting to realise that this isn’t about gun control at all – this about saving children’s lives.

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Because if the killing spree is allowed to go unchecked, if literally nothing is done to curb the violence, history will record these mass murders as a genocide. Because the adults owe the children a higher standard of responsibility, and they should have done better.

Listen: Amelia Lester explains why US gun laws remain unchanged, despite massacre after massacre.

In every civilised society, we agree that the adults owe a duty of care to the children. In America, that duty has been significantly breached. In Florida yesterday, 17 students were shot by the shooter; but really, he just pulled the trigger. Who loaded the gun? The people who have the power to unload it – the American government. But they just don’t seem to care enough.

Because just as it is the case with seat belts, and smoking, and vaccinations – it’s the government’s responsibility to be the adults and look after the nation’s future. To safeguard it. And not allow it to be wantonly decimated.

If they continue to simply refuse to do that, do teachers need to step up? It’s a last resort – but surely something has to be done?

In an op-ed to the New York Times, commentator David Leonhardt said,  “A recent study in the journal Health Affairs concluded that the United States has become ‘the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.'”

And if that’s not chilling enough for you, the final line of the article will give you goosebumps with its accuracy: “Here’s the truth: The teenagers killed in Florida yesterday had the misfortune of growing up — of trying to grow up — in a country that didn’t care enough about their lives.”

It’s a sentiment that was echoed by former President Barack Obama:


So you can see why Americans are getting frustrated. You can understand it’s tempting to fight gun fire with gun fire, because for many of them, it’s the only way they know how. In the face of a dire lack of gun control and leadership, it’s natural that many of them will think defensively.

Of course, the support for the idea generally comes from people who believe in low gun control in the first place. They believe in gun violence as the solution to gun violence.

In Australia, the concept of arming anyone, let alone the teachers who educate our children, is utterly foreign – and repulsive. Australians abhor such violence, and we’re grateful that our Prime Minister at the time of our last gun massacre took strong action. In this peace-loving and peaceful nation, the whole gun control debate makes little sense to us.  And thankfully, it’s the same for a lot of – but not enough – Americans, too.

It’s clear to us across the water, with our experience of strong leadership on the issue, that #ArmTheTeachers is a desperate cry for help from adults who are reactive, not proactive – because it’s simply easier for them to think like that than to have their values challenged. But they’re not the kind of adults that American children need, or are seeking.

In Florida this week, more than ever before, America’s children are begging the adults for real, lasting change. They’re pleading for their lives.

Literally and metaphorically, they’re tired of being held at gun point. And they certainly aren’t asking for more people to exercise their right to bear arms.

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