Teachers across Oklahoma agree: HB 2336, advanced by the Oklahoma Senate last Wednesday, will put students’ lives at risk. Yesterday, Sarah Carnes, a teacher at an Oklahoma City public high school and volunteer with Oklahoma Moms Demand Action, wrote an op-ed in The Oklahoman about her opposition to HB 2336, which would dramatically cut the training requirement for teachers carrying guns in school.
“As a teacher, my job is to create a nurturing environment in which my students can learn and grow. That’s a full-time job (more like two full-time jobs, as teachers like me know) that requires every ounce of my attention – my students deserve nothing less. Teachers like me can’t do that vital job if we have to spend our time worrying about even more guns in our schools, in even more inadequately trained hands.
“By slashing the training requirement from 240 hours to as few as eight, Oklahoma lawmakers would make a bad situation worse. Think about it – eight hours is just one school day. Law enforcement officers receive an average of 840 hours of training, and even some of the most trained law enforcement officers in the world see their ability to shoot accurately decrease precipitously in crisis situations. Even with the current training requirements, expecting someone like me to safely respond to a crisis situation is a recipe for disaster.
“There are evidence-tested approaches that we know help keep schools safe. We know that those who perpetrate gun violence in schools almost always access their gun from the home – so if we want to keep kids safe in school, we should start with encouraging everyone to securely store firearms in the home. Schools can also implement threat assessment programs and increase access to mental health services to get students the help they need before gun violence happens. Basic security upgrades, like access control and interior door locks, can help keep students safe in the instance of a threat. Emergency planning helps law enforcement respond effectively while keeping students and staff safe. And common-sense gun laws like red flag laws and legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.
Teachers, on the other hand? Let’s let teachers teach.”
HB 2336 could enable schools to allow any public school employee with a handgun carry permit to carry a loaded handgun in Oklahoma’s public schools. HB 2336 also could provide civil and criminal immunity to staff who carry under this program for any injuries they cause at school with the gun—no matter how reckless their behavior with the firearm.