With the recent shooting in Florida, arming teachers has become a common debate in the country.
Students and faculty at BYU-Idaho have different opinions on teachers carrying firearms on campus.
Stephen Bunnell, the BYU-I public safety director, said the school has a specific policy prohibiting firearms except those carried by law enforcement and public safety officers.
Although Bunnell personally believes BYU-I’s current policy will never change, some students believe that the policy should change.
“Everyone has a right to defend themselves, that’s one of the big reasons for the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms,” said Nick Kelley, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “We send our kids to school, and we task those schools with protecting our kids.”
Kelley said teachers carrying guns would be trained if they chose to carry them.
Kelley is not alone in thinking teachers should be armed on campus.
Monica Heiner, a senior studying nursing, said teachers should be allowed to carry weapons as well, but only if they feel comfortable and competent doing it.
“I believe that it protects the kids, and people are going to think twice before they enter a zone with people that have guns and know how to use them,” Heiner said.
Questions have been raised about armed guards preventing mass shootings. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s police officer failed to approach the shooter, according to USA Today.
There have been other instances when shooters have chosen to attack despite the presence of armed guards or police, such as the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, according to BBC News.
Security guards and armed citizens have taken action in mass shootings before, such as security guard Jesus Campos confronting the shooter, Stephen Paddock, during the Las Vegas shooting, according to ABC News.
Other people around BYU-I hold more moderate views about arming teachers.
“I certainly don’t think they (teachers) should be required to be armed,” said Daniel Baird, a professor in the Math Department. “It’s a delicate situation. If the burden of security is placed on teacher then they can’t focus on teaching.”
Baird said venues such as Disneyland and sports stadiums have certain security procedures put into place to protect their guests. Baird said certain security measures might need to be implemented in schools.
“Because schools are about teaching, the school has to step it up and make a safe environment,” Baird said. “Depending on the situation, that might mean metal detectors in the west side of Chicago, in Rexburg maybe not as much. If it ever goes so far as to degrade the purpose and enjoyment of education to create a safe environment, then we’ve overshot.”
Other faculty and students alike share views somewhat similar to Baird’s; they said teachers should personally decide if they want to carry concealed weapons.
“I don’t think any teacher should be forcibly armed or mandated by the government or any institution,” said Joseph Anderson, a professor in the Biology Department. “Not everyone would feel comfortable. If you’re not comfortable to carry a weapon then you’re more of a liability than an asset.”
Other countries, such as Israel, have much tighter security in schools.
According to CBS News, schools stationed in Israel only have one unlocked gate with an armed security guard. If problems arise, the security guards deal with the problem.
Kelley said tactics such as those used in Israel should be used here in the United States.
“Why don’t we have guards at school?” Kelley asked. “Why are they not like banks where you have armed security around the clock?”
In response to concerns about university security measures, Bunnell mentioned some extra precautions that are being taken.
“We are upgrading our locks systems in the buildings so classrooms can quickly be locked,” Bunnell said. “We have information available to the faculty staff and (student) body that can easily be obtained and certain techniques of keeping yourself safe.”
Bunnell said that a plan is in place in the event of a shooting at BYU-I.
“We would respond quickly and with as much force to stop the shooting,” Bunnell said. “We work closely with the Rexburg Police Department. We train together and communicate together and are working on improving those communications; so if an instance like that happened we could get them there as quickly as possible.”
President Donald Trump weighed in on the debate over arming teachers.
“Take the guns first and go through due process second,” Trump said concerning gun control, according to BBC News.
The Hill reported that Congress has postponed voting on a gun control bill and will vote on banking legislation instead.