By Jacqueline Chafart, Staff Writer
Over the past two decades, the number of school shootings in the United States has dramatically increased. In fact, only twenty weeks into 2018, 22 school shootings have taken place; that means there is an average of more than one shooting each week, each one resulting in injuries and oftentimes deaths. As a result of these tragedies, the debate over having an armed guard on school properties has become prominent in recent months.
In response to the rising number of school shootings, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, proposed arming officers in every K-12 school in the U.S. After the Parkland, Florida shooting on Feb. 14, President Donald Trump proposed the idea that teachers should be armed. But this solution seems illogical. Why should we respond to violence with more violence?
The New York Times reported on Dec. 18, 2012, “Across the country, some 23,200 schools – about one-third of all public – schools had armed security staff in 2009-2010 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.”
According to a Washington Post article from Dec. 21, 2012, arming security guards would cost $2.5 billion in the year 2012; at this time, however, the average salary of a police officer was $55,000 per year, whereas this year an average salary of an officer is calculated to be $62,960 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). So, this increase would shift the total cost to an even greater sum.
Additionally, research suggests that armed guards do not provide students a sense of comfort but rather uneasiness. A 2011 study conducted by the Youth Society discovered that students feel less secure with an armed officer present. Another study by the Youth Society found that the majority of students believe their schools are already safe places. In turn, the students find their school’s security strategies to be unnecessary. Other students also responded with feeling powerless as a result of their schools’ enforcement regulations.
Comparatively, the effect that armed guards would have on school shootings and other variations of violence is unclear. The idea seems intuitive that armed security would result in a safer school; however, there was an officer stationed the day of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which was one of the most publicized school shootings this year. The school resource officer, Scott Peterson, was found hiding outside the school building during the massacre. He was armed with a gun and a bulletproof vest, but, rather than locating the shooter, he hid with students because he claimed to not know where the shooter was.
Furthermore, there is no actual research on the effectiveness of placing armed security guards in schools. However, there is evidence that there is a direct relation between armed guards and violence. According to The Atlantic, the U.S. has the highest number of privately owned guns in the world with an estimated 88.8 guns per 100 people. The Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury and Control Research Center investigated the relation between gun deaths and forearm ownership. After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors, they discovered that the presence of more guns does indeed lead to more gun deaths. This shows that adding more guns to the problem would only result in further violence.
Therefore, the act of arming security guards in school should not be executed as there is no definitive proof of its effectiveness, while there is some evidence that it could lead to more deaths, and it would be costly for the country to enforce.