Keeping Schools Safe From Killers

Officials in some East Ohio school districts reportedly are thinking about whether to allow some educators to carry guns while on the job.

School board members in the nearby Newcomerstown district already have approved such a measure. There, strict controls over personnel carrying guns in schools are envisioned.

“I understand them wanting to do that,” Bridgeport school Superintendent Ted Downing commented, adding, “I think you’ll see more and more schools do it.”

Indeed, arming school personnel is understandable, in light of massacres in other states. Had the Newtown, Conn., school killer been confronted by someone else with a gun, the death toll he took might have been much lower.

But local school officials should be very cautious in considering such action.

One important consideration is that no matter how well accustomed they are to handling guns, educators are not experienced, specifically trained law enforcement officers. In confronting a violent situation, in which the instigator may not be armed, that is a major consideration.

Another potential danger is students gaining access to educators’ weapons.

We support use of resource officers – armed, professional police or sheriff’s personnel – in schools. That probably is the best way of adding a layer of protection for students, and many educators in East Ohio seem to agree.

Yet some schools cannot afford resource officers. That may tempt officials to allow a few educators to carry guns or at least have access to them.

Again, such a response to school shootings in Newtown and elsewhere is understandable. But before East Ohio boards of education turn to such measures, we urge them to consult with law enforcement agencies and professionals in school security.