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Second Amendment logic: The arming of school teachers

  • 20 June 2022
  In a controversial paper published in 1981, the international relations theorist, Kenneth Waltz, propounded a view that caused more than a flutter in the academic community. Regarding the issue of addressing a country’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons, he had a startlingly elegant, if awful solution: proliferation, or a more equitable distribution of such armaments, would eliminate the issue of insecurity.

In his piece, Waltz saw nuclear weapons, despite being existentially devastating, as a force ‘working for peace in the post-war world’, making ‘the cost of war seem frighteningly high’ and prohibitive to states starting conflicts that might lead to their use. ‘The likelihood for war decreases as deterrent and defensive capabilities increase.’

In the context of mass school shootings in the United States, the latest of which took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a crude form of Waltzian deterrence has made an appearance.  To be safer, you do not remove guns, but spread them through a policy of mutually assured terror. Any gun toting individual entering the school grounds will think twice before encountering the hail of bullets from a protective teacher. Gun control, accordingly, becomes anathema.

In the aftermath of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Florida, an event that left 17 dead, President Donald Trump floated this very idea on live television. Just as allowing airline pilots to carry and conceal guns had worked as a measure, educators could follow a similar path. It would have aided football coach Aaron Feis, who, instead of using his body as a shield to protect a student, could ‘have shot [the shooter], and that would have been the end of it.’

The National Rifle Association wholeheartedly agreed, if only because Trump was expressing a view held by its members for years. In February 2018, in an address to the Conservative Political Action conference, Wayne Lapierre, head of the NRA, described schools as ‘virtually wide-open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murders.’ Making places of learning sound like vulnerable military targets, he advised that, ‘Schools must be the most hardened targets in this country.’

'In dealing with school safety, why not furnish educators, not with more weapons and defensive positions, but resources for learning and wellbeing?'

With this extravagantly dangerous appraisal of school security, it follows that the shooting problem can be resolved by flooding the school administrative system with guns and training, effectively militarising an already desperately insecure education