Less than six months into 2018, there were 23 school shootings where someone was injured or killed, averaging out to more than one shooting a week, according to CNN. While none of these occurred in Illinois, gun scares were prevalent.
A teenager fired shots at Dixon High School in northern Illinois on May 16th, and more specific to Northwestern, there was a gun scare – although it turned out to be a hoax – on March 14th where students were on lockdown for a few hours. Furthermore, several EPD and NUPD officers were stationed around the Segal Visitors Center due to a supposed gun spotting near the Lakefill on July 10th.
On a Saturday morning in downtown Evanston, a mother, grant writer, artist, businessman and Northwestern student offered their opinions on qualified teachers potentially possessing firearms at public schools as a means of protecting themselves and their students. Amidst a period of nationwide disagreement on how to protect our youth, various responses and thoughts arose.
“No since it is not part of teachers’ responsibilities, and they are not trained,” Evanston resident and mother Tanya Palmer, 45, said. “I don’t think teachers want to carry weapons either.”
Evanston resident and artist John Center, 69, said he thought otherwise. “Yes, but not just anybody,” Center said. “They should be trained, something like from the police or military. Police can’t get to a shooting fast enough. Maybe someone can stop this.” Center also said that although Chicago has one of the strongest gun regulations, more residents have been murdered there than in Los Angeles and New York combined. He added, “Crime is not obeying laws to begin with.”
Incoming Northwestern undergraduate Anthony Kim, 18, and Evanston resident Tom Hale, 60, both said they were “on the fence.” “The question means that somewhere in school, firearms will be available to qualified teachers,” Hale said. “If someone comes to school to shoot it up and you’re otherwise relying on security guards and police, they’re not always available…but having teachers walking around packing is…I don’t know how to control that.”
Kim said that arming teachers would create a darker, more violent school environment, so his argument resembled that of Hale. “To have one’s life end so early is extremely tragic,” Kim said. “But a school environment is really there to promote a comfortable learning space and armed teachers could disrupt that. Then again, I want to have comfort knowing I am safe during a possible shooting.”
Kim and Hale concluded that there should be “much less problematic solutions than loading up.” “Schools could have a more preventative mindset rather than a reactionary one,” Kim said. “In the presence of an unfamiliar figure, students can talk to him and see what he’s up to.”
Chicago resident and grant writer Clare Brody, 26, answered “no” while also expressing hopes for meaningful change. Brody said that her thoughts may differ from others since she is from an arts background rather than a political one. “We have a bad habit of forgetting, but people are now getting angry and taking action and making sure that the government represents their views,” Brody said. “I’ve heard of a 30 year sweep – what’s happening now will be felt 30 years from now. It’s easier to talk about those man-made divides in the arts, but I hope that everybody stays angry for 60, 90 years and stays talking.”
Jenny Huh, Grade 12