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'We'd have the ability to fight back': Valley teachers say they - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

'We'd have the ability to fight back': Valley teachers say they are willing to carry guns

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(Photo: 12 News) (Photo: 12 News)

What is the role of a teacher? It’s a question that some are wondering following the Florida school shooting.

“Let’s not be detracted from our mission of teaching kids and nurturing their dreams,” said Tempe Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca.

Since the shooting some people, including President Trump, have amplified talk of arming our teachers. The debate has ramped up as both sides voice their opinion.

“I think we should carry a gun on campus,” said one Valley teacher.

The teacher agreed to speak with 12 News if we did not reveal her name. The elementary school teacher has been teaching in Arizona more than five years.

“I would absolutely feel more safe if I was allowed to carry my firearm,” said the teacher.

State laws related to guns in schools vary across the country. 12 News found 10 states allow teachers to carry a gun on campus. School Districts in those states must then decide if they will allow it. States that currently have laws in place that allow teachers to carry include, Texas, Ohio, Arkansas and Utah.

Several of the schools are in remote areas not close to a police station. The Clarksville School District in Arkansas has had teachers, staff and janitors ready to respond during a shooting on campus.

"If we didn't do this and somebody came into this building or any of our school buildings and harmed our children it would be hard to go to sleep that night thinking what else could I have done,” said teacher Jim Krohn.

Arizona does not allow teachers or staff to carry a gun on campus but legislatures have discussed and debated the topic in the past. Politicians across the country are once again looking at different ways to keep kids safe on campus, and that includes arming teachers.

“It’s a reactionary solution I believe will create more problems than solutions,” said Baca.

Arming teachers has proven to be comforting to many students and teachers in schools that currently allow the practice. 12 News talked with another Arizona teacher who also feels the best way for now to protect students is to let teachers who are properly trained carry a weapon.

“We would have the ability to fight back with more than just a locked door and hope for the best,” said the teacher.

Also concerned about backlash from the school district she works for, the teacher agreed to talk with 12 News if we did not identify her.

“I’m definitely willing to carry one (gun),” she said.

Critics say the risk of an accident happening and someone getting hurt or injured increases exponentially when you bring a gun on campus. A teacher in Utah accidently discharged her gun at the school in a restroom and shot the toilet. She was charged with a misdemeanor and pled no contest.

Supporters say arming teachers not only better protects kids in that rare situation but also provides a deterrence to a potential shooter. The two teachers 12 News spoke with that support arming teachers were adamant about extensive training and only have a handful carry.

“I believe some teachers, not all should have guns on campus,” one of the teachers said.

Both point to the inability to protect their students if an active shooter were to enter their classroom or school.

“I don’t know when a shooter saw a bunch of kids and then turned around and went the other way,” said one teacher. “I may not be their (the students') last hope but I’m a hope”.

Most options considered in the past have come with a hefty price tag that districts can’t afford. Some schools have beefed up access to campus with security doors that lock and require a person to be beeped in, but those same schools have a eight-foot fence that easily be jumped.

RELATED: How much would it cost to arm teachers in Arizona?

Most school districts can’t afford to pay for armed officers or security guards on campus. Other options now being considered are bullet proof safe rooms, but once again they are extremely expensive.

Keeping students safe on campus is a topic that is once again in the national spotlight, but the solution is not simple and as we have seen opinions are divided.

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