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Two different approaches to 'arming' teachers

National Public Radio

With pressure from President Trump for teachers to be armed in the wake of the school massacre in Florida, there is also increasing pressure for armed college professors with the dorm shootings at Central Michigan University.

Schools can be very vulnerable to someone with a weapon who wants to kill. Colleges and universities can be even more vulnerable because often there are many buildings and campus security is under-trained and may not routinely have weapons immediately available. There is also the issues of how can you tell if someone on a college campus has a weapon and, if someone starts shooting, how long will it take for help to arrive.

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, an associate professor of political science at Canisius College, said maybe the National Rifle Association has a point.

"I don't buy into the NRA talking points right down the line," Hardwick said, "but when they do say that the thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, that's happened before and I don't think we should discard it just because it comes from the NRA."

Hardwick does not carry a gun, but said a major problem is that something can go very bad, very fast.
"When someone bursts into an academic building, be it a high school or a grade school or a college building, there's very little time for the authorities to get there," Hardwick said. "Even if the response time is two minutes, as we saw in Parkland, a person can do a lot of damage in two minutes."

Peter Stuhlmiller, president of the Kenmore Teachers Association. The Kenmore Tonawanda School District has armed town police officers in buildings.  The officers can work with school administration to keep track of incidents in the community that might ricochet back into the buildings, such as a family violence incident involving a student who has to go to school the next day.

"They're trained to be prepared in the event they need to intervene to do what law enforcement requires, and to expect teachers who are certified to teach mathematics or chemistry or physics or social studies to then also be marksmen or lethal sharpshooters in a crisis moment is unrealistic and frankly it's not even safe," remarked Stuhmiller.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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