On April 17, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people, injured 25 others, and killed himself at Virginia Tech . Later that year, a panel of experts put together by the governor of the state released a report detailing numerous failures by the school faculty who did not notice Cho's deteriorating mental health condition and as a result, did not help him . The report put the blame not entirely on the mass murderer, but on the employees of the university. The report missed the mark entirely by taking the stance that incidents such as the Virginia Tech Massacre should be prevented instead of confronted. By training and equipping teachers to use firearms, a school shooting is not only less likely to occur, but in the event that it does, teachers will have the means necessary to protect themselves and their students.
Before the Virginia Tech Massacre, there was the Amish School Shooting in 2006 where a single gunman killed five girls, wounded seven, and then killed himself . Late last year, a man entered a mall in Nebraska with an AK-47, killed eight people, wounded four others, and shot himself . Virginia Tech, the Amish School, and the Nebraska mall all have one thing in common: unarmed victims. Mass murderers such as Cho do not target places like gun shops or police stations for the simple reason that they are not looking for a gunfight; they are looking to kill people. Someone in Cho's state of mind will pick a school, church, or even a shopping mall instead of a police station, because the locations are full of unarmed people who lack the means to fight back. The result is a man with a gun who can rack up a high body count long before the cops can arrive to watch him kill himself.
This is not a call for any teacher to be able to walk into a classroom with a 12-gauge shotgun and enforce the finer points of English Composition; this is a call to give willing teachers the opportunity to receive training on proper gun handling, concealment, and use. With less than a week's worth of training, a teacher can be capable of pulling a handgun from concealment and putting two rounds in the chest of a human being 15 yards away in less than three seconds. Concealment is key so people do not know which teachers have elected to carry a firearm, but a school can let it be known that there are teachers carrying. The school is no longer a hive of unarmed victims. Mass murderers are now more likely to target a different location. In the event that someone still attempts go on a shooting spree, there are trained staff who can take care of the situation. If a single teacher was trained and carrying a firearm in the building at Virginia Tech where Cho was unleashing his madness, that teacher could have put him down in seconds and saved dozens of students. There were brave teachers in Virginia who risked their lives to barricade doors while Cho shot through them. Unarmed, these teachers were heroes. Armed, these teachers would have been saviors.
Currently, the Harrold Independent School District in Texas is the only district in the United States that let's the teachers carry concealed firearms. As of August this year, teachers are allowed to carry as long as they,
. . . have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls .
The school district has a simple argument in that they are 30-minute drive away from the nearest police station. After making the policy official this year, Superintendent David Thweatt said, "When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog" .
Thweatt is determined not to see his school taken advantage by the likes of a Cho. It should be the case with all schools including K-12 and college campuses. Students should feel safe and free to learn while teachers teach. No one should be stressing over the signs of someone about to have a mental breakdown in the form of a killing spree. Teachers are entrusted with the minds of their students. As the heroes of Virginia Tech showed, teachers will also take the responsibility of the lives of their students. Unfortunately, the 32 dead students were not in need of heroic teachers risking their lives; they were in need of trained teachers with the means to end the situation in a few short seconds. Give teachers the means, training, and power to prevent another massacre from occurring in the United States again.
Associated Press. "North Texas school district will let teachers carry guns." The Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5945430.html (accessed November 30, 2008).
Friedberg, Ardy and Monica Davey. "Gunman at an Omaha Mall Kills 8 and Himself." The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/us/06omaha.html (accessed November 30, 2008).
Kocieniewski, David and Gary Gately. "Man Shoots 11, Killing 5 Girls, in Amish School." The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/us/03amish.html (accessed December 1, 2008).
Virginia Tech Review Panel. "Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech: April 16, 2007." Aug 2007. Commonwealth of Virginia. http://www.governor.virginia.gov/TempContent/techPanelReport-docs/FullReport.pdf (accessed November 30, 2008).