THE wisdom of an Indiana law that leaves the question of who should be armed on school campuses to local districts has been underlined by the reaction of local authorities to proposals that teachers be allowed to carry guns.
While legislators in other states have proposed arming teachers in an effort to protect their students in the event of an incident similar to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Indiana state law holds out that possibility but cedes the ultimate decision to local districts.
Officials in both the Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporations have taken a reasonable approach in limiting possession of weaponry to police officers on local campuses, noting that it is best to leave gun handling in the hands of experts.
Although a police presence is not an everyday situation at local schools, armed officers are frequently in evidence, in part through situations such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, whereby officers who are required to carry guns while in uniform are at elementary schools on a rotating basis.
While some might prefer a police presence at each school throughout the academic year, the economics and logistics of such a measure are monumental. However, the alternative of arming teachers is even more troubling to local school officials who believe that such a step could pose far greater dangers.
As Bartholomew Consolidated Superintendent John Quick noted, “If you allowed teachers to carry them (guns), you’d hear a lot more often about incidents where students take guns away from school officials.”
The bottom line on the presence of guns in schools is that they should be in the hands of trained professionals. Police officers undergo intense training sessions on the proper use of these weapons, training that is renewed on a regular basis.
While the idea of stationing officers on each campus throughout the school day is too ambitious, some local police officials are considering stop-gap measures.
For instance, Hope Town Marshal Randy Bailey has suggested that it might be possible to arrange for reserve police officers to eat lunch with students on an ongoing basis.
Tragic though the situation at Newtown was — and before it, Columbine High School in Colorado — the specters raised with the idea of arming school teachers are even more forbidding.
In this community, local educators have chosen a common-sense approach in leaving the matter of gun possession in the hands of professionals — the police.