Giving Teachers Guns

Last Wednesday, the Maine State Legislature Committee on Education & Cultural Affairs held its first public hearings for four new bills seeking to increase school security. These bills’ aims ranged in intensity from bollards on the sidewalk to arming all licensed adults(including 18 year old students). The hearing, co-chaired by Kennebunk’s Senator Joe Rafferty, drew dozens of speakers and spectators, including representatives for several high profile organizations. Lauren LePage, daughter of former governor Paul LePage and the National Rifle Association state director for Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire spoke strongly in favor of the new bills. LePage asserted that the current laws prohibiting firearms at school are “problematic and backwards” and that it is a “rational” parent who brings a gun to school. Other speakers, including representatives from the Maine Education Association and the Maine Academy of Pediatrics, countered these claims and expressed concerns that more guns could only lead to more chaos and more fear.

Our state’s renewed interest in school safety almost undoubtedly springs from the act of terror directed against Maine schools last November, in which active shooters were falsely reported at ten separate high schools. These events, while fortunately fabricated, have forced us to reassess how well our schools are protected. Yet, the speakers at the hearing couldn’t seem to agree on what “protected” actually means. If even one of these “school protection” bills passes, its effects will be acutely felt across the state. LD no. 52, which aims to make Maine the 33rd state to permit armed teachers, is particularly contentious. Arming teachers is not a decision that the legislature can take lightly, and there is significant evidence both for and against its implementation. Personally, I’m not sure that I would feel safer with the knowledge that certain teachers are armed, nor do I think that I would appreciate the constant reminders of violence that a classroom gun safe would provide. But I am not representative of every student in our school, let alone every student in our state. So the question remains: do you really feel safer knowing your teachers are carrying guns?

People Who Can Bring Guns to School if LD no. 52 Passes: Jeremie Sirois, Molly Dilworth, William Putnam, Karen Dumont, Bruce Lewia, Linda McCluskey, Gwyndolyn Morneault, Kristen Parker, Linda Wiewel, Jacquelyn Holmes, Edward Sharood, Joe Schwartzman, Alexandro Fusco, Arlene Verre, Ann Stockbridge, Bobbie Jo Boulay, Buffy Bullard, Blanche Cianguilli, Amanda Cyr, Judith Dennis, Kate Doody, Nicole Grady, Stephanie Griffin, Joseph Harris, Anne Marie Hill, Donna Lindgren, Terry Locke, Paul Maguire, Jennifer Mooney, Jennifer Niese, Brooke Nodden, John Raleigh, Joy Roberts, Wieslawa Sowa, Robin Vaughan, Karrie Webber, Beth Carlson, Margaux DePue, Ivy Gardner, Emily Longworth, Maria Fraser, Amy Roy, Erin Shanahan, Susan Thombs, Andy Young, Jessica Rosado, Katherine Stinson, Alexis Ovington, Keri Porter, Caroline Alaimo, Spencer Allison, Michelle Owen, Susan Donaher, Meghan Hubacz, Rob Sullivan, Jennifer Mooney, David Cimato, Lorraine Curtis, Sean Doherty, Eric Johanson, David Mitchell, Crystal St. Onge, Stephanie Virgilio, Jonathan Young, Aimee Thompson, Kalynda Beal, Lauren Besanko, Maria Lundin, Sophia Lataille, Laura Latinski, Andrew Lucas, Brooke Price, Christina Richardson, Joseph Bush, Jason Sullivan, Neil Battagliese, Erin Boggs, Lisa Farrell, Melissa Luetje, Lisa McLellan, Norma Nardone, Michael O’Brien, Abigail Treadwell, Joshua Viola, Tracy Flagg, Diann Gut, Rachel Lira, Elizabeth Roope, Tara Skiff, Tom Dupuis, Frederick Follansbee, Todd French, Shannon LeBlanc, Rebecca Moy, Greg Smith, Lindsay Venezio, Sean Watson, Karen Campanella, Daniel Doughty, Isabel Dumas, Beth Hazen, Jason Kenuk, Corey Leach, Thomas Macisso, Mary MacLennan, Megan Murray, Paula Reetz, Linda Ruskoski, Melissa Higginson, Aaron Germana, Richard Kane, Beth Keezer, Chase Graves, Waynn Welton, Dennis St. Pierre, Eric Halpin-Desmarais, Katie Mooney, Brendan Roddy, Marnie Rollerson, Dennis St. Pierre, Jesse Myers-Wakeman