Dear Editor,

Regarding the approval of the Guardian program in our school district I would like to share some well documented facts available at Everytownresearch.org.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation’s two largest organizations of education professionals, oppose allowing guns in schools, a position they reiterated after the Parkland shooting. The Presidents of the AFT and NEA have consistently rejected calls to arm teachers:

“Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees. Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.”

The National Association of School Resource Officers strongly opposes the proposal to arm teachers due to the risk it would pose to law enforcement, students, and the school community, as well as the risks to the armed teachers themselves.

The President and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents 75 police forces from large cities in the USA and Canada, both agree that arming teachers is “not a good idea” and say, “The more guns that are coming into the equation, the more volatility and the more risk there is of somebody getting hurt.”

Schools that have allowed employees to carry guns have had difficulty obtaining insurance coverage. Some liability insurance providers have declined coverage to these schools while others have increased annual premiums, stretching already tight budgets.

Proposals to arm teachers will likely result in additional costs for training teachers, firearms, ammunition, and other costs, putting an additional financial burden on school districts and, ultimately, on taxpayers.

The FBI found that in 250 active shooter incidents, there were only seven successful armed civilian interventions. In contrast, unarmed civilians successfully intervened in 22 incidents.

Research casts significant doubt on the idea that civilians can shoot as well as trained police officers in active shooter situations.

I am saddened that the board has taken this direction without community input. The research has been ignored by both the state and now our local board members. It is time for the people in charge to put their personal perspectives aside and use well-documented scholarly research to inform their decisions. Our students deserve the very best and when those in charge believe their opinions over research, we should all be concerned.

Susan Kotelman

Mexico Beach

Three children assigned to Gulf District Schools