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Don’t bring armed guards into our schools

Karen Hang/The SPOKE

By Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor

Only a month into 2024, there have already been two school shootings across the nation, according to educational news organization EduWeek. This number will continue to rise as the year goes on. It is time for our lawmakers to take action and implement laws that will prevent such shootings from happening in the future. They are, though not in the most effective ways.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill on Dec. 13 that would make it mandatory for public school districts to have at least one armed guard on duty during school hours to better protect the safety of students and staff. While the effort stems from a good place, having an armed presence in schools is antithetical to the purpose of lowering tensions and concerns around a possible shooting.

According to a 2021 study from researchers at the University at Albany, the presence of armed guards at school did not decrease gun-related violence. It instead led to more arrests, disciplinary actions and referrals that disproportionately targeted students of color, particularly Black students. While the armed guards did not directly instigate such events, their presence at schools restricts and disrupts the learning environment. Moreover, the presence of armed guards in schools also increases tensions around gun violence as armed guards serve as a physical reminder of a possible threat.

Similarly, the National Association of School Psychologists found that the presence of arms in schools increased students’ anxiety around possible shooter events. Students felt more provoked with the presence of guards, which then caused more misbehavior, such as fights between students and the use of inappropriate language. Guards tended to make students more wary and increased their discomfort in school. Rising anxiety levels in students and an increase in volatile situations due to the presence of armed guards distract students from their academics.

Wanting armed guards in school is not a phenomenon unique to Pennsylvania. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz proposed the idea after the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, citing the extra reassurance armed guards would provide for staff and students. According to the proponents of the idea, guards would act as a measure of safety in schools, allowing for immediate action to be taken in times of crisis.

A better method of ensuring safety would be to ban weapons altogether. According to National Public Radio, an analysis of studies on gun control in the past 25 years found that banning weapons was the most effective at ensuring that young adults do not have access to firearms. If such a policy measure is not enacted, restriction on gun ownership is also quite effective.

Regulations and background checks can restrict the number of people who own guns, therefore limiting the number of parents who own guns which is an effective prevention of school shootings.

The presence of armed guards is not the solution to preventing school shootings. Instead, legislators need to start considering limiting weapon ownerships and installing checks in the process of acquiring arms. This is a problem that must be solved at the root, and it is important as citizens that we let our representatives know this.

Jui Bhatia can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor
Jui Bhatia is a senior and the Co-Opinion Editor of The Spoke. She has previously served as the Managing Editor and Beats Editor. She usually writes editorial pieces about pop culture and national news. She is also an artist, and has created cartoons for The Spoke. She heads the Desi Club and is an active participant of Conestoga's Students Organized Against Racism group.