Guns in Pennsylvania Public Schools

Thea Risher


When I was in seventh grade, I had a quirky world geography teacher. He was a perfectly good teacher. He was interesting and engaged the class well. I  have no real complaints about the class, but there were some moments that stuck out at me. One day, he was in a particularly bad mood and one of the kids in my class was acting up. The teacher yelled at him a few times, but he would not settle down. All of a sudden, the teacher flung a folder at him with extreme force, hitting him on the side of the head. Of course, our whole class caused an uproar, laughing until we cried, because at the time we had no idea that this could put any child in actual danger. This particular teacher had since been known to chuck water bottles at students, or shove desks in their general direction when riled up. Rumors used to spread about him, but his anger outbursts were relatively harmless at the time.

When I heard about the legalization of school employees in Pennsylvania to carry firearms, I was working at a summer camp with kids ages 8-12. My heart dropped. The first thing I thought about was this teacher and his impulsivity when children misbehave. I do not think any teacher or school employee would ever intentionally hurt a child, but our natural instinct as humans will always be to protect ourselves over others. Countless incidents have shown that guns given to people in shootings do not actually prevent fatalities. There is too much training required to be able to maintain composure, and you also risk the chance of shooting an innocent person in a moment of desperation.

Studies have shown that in order to maintain composure and self control as well as keep people safe in a potential shooting, an armed citizen would need 700 hours of training, at a bare minimum. The Philadelphia school district in particular does not have the time or the money to pay school employees to conduct and participate in these trainings. Having guns in the hands of any school employee is proven to only cause more danger, and school employees do not have the right to put any kids in danger. Guns are relatively helpless and even more harmful if you don’t know how to use them.One motto of the NRA has famously been “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Only 3% of the time in the last ten years has a shooting been stopped by a regular citizen with a gun. The percentages are not high enough to grant us any amount of safety.

I believe there are endless reasons that guns in our schools are not beneficial and would be nothing but harmful to all parties. There are many other realistic alternatives that may not be perfect, but would work much better. More security around the entrance of non-school employees or students into the buildings could be very beneficial and more cost effective. Having better lock down drills and protection in individual classes could be an effective alternative as well, and practicing more thoroughly how to stay safe when there is a potential shooter on the loose. There are many things that could better insure safety than bringing the root of the problem, in this case guns, into school environments themselves.  Overall, putting more guns in a facility means more access to guns for younger students or anyone who can get inside the building. Guns were made since the beginning to be weapons of destruction. To me, once a weapon always a weapon. Schools have always been advertised as a safe place and putting guns in this environment would ruin the whole fundamental idea of school culture. Why have such a lethal weapon be within reach of the most vulnerable part of our population? We should be asking ourselves how to eliminate the root of the danger instead of adding fire to the flames of gun violence.

Thea Risher

Blog Coordinator