By WIlliam Kregler
UFT President Michael Mulgrew is on record that he does not support the idea of his members (teachers) carrying firearms in school.
In general, I agree. New York City teachers have the enormous task of teaching one million students at a cost twice the national average which only produces a 70 percent graduation rate. I agree that the vast overwhelming majority of teachers do not have the ability to obtain the needed level of training, knowledge and discipline on handling a firearm to qualify to carry it.
A very small percentage of New York City teachers could possibly qualify based on their military or law enforcement backgrounds. These individuals have the training and discipline to meet the high level of responsibility in carrying concealed weapons and have the understanding of the Penal Law in carrying and using them. It’s only this selected group that President Trump is focusing on in adding another layer of protection and possible deterrent to an active shooter incident.
From Columbine to Stoneman Douglas, the lack of a proper and/or timely police response and engagement has contributed to the deaths of students and teaching staff. The latest tragedy in Florida also showed that even the presence of an active uniformed police officer assigned to a school does not guarantee that proper and timely action will be taken.
Even with a career in public safety, law enforcement and as a first responder, time is of the essence in handling an active shooter situation. The longer the situation continues, the more deaths occur.
As a consultant and lecturer on emergency preparedness and response, I believe adding an additional layer of protection of on-scene firearm professionals would definitively add to the safety and protection of students and teaching staff alike. Through all the tragic school shootings, it is the teaching staff that has performed beyond the call of their duties in sacrificing themselves for their beloved students.
Having a select few trained individuals carry firearms in schools gives them a viable option to engage a shooter with more of a chance of survival for them and their students.
Adding to the emotional, knee-jerk reaction to these tragedies, our elected officials passed a “Gun-Free School Safety Zone” (New York City Charter – Chapter 18-C: Public Safety, sec. 460) that prohibits any individual from possessing a firearm on school grounds. This poorly written and ill-conceived law prohibits a retired police officer with an unrestricted full carry permit from entering onto school grounds.
Though these individuals possess all the qualifications and authority to carry a firearm, they are prohibited from doing so for no legitimate reason. This law diminishes safety in our schools rather than enhancing it.
We should stop using these tragedies in promoting political agendas or making villains out of certain groups and focus on legitimate, meaningful policies and laws for the benefit of all concerned.