Public Schools and the Second Amendment: Should We Arm School Teachers?
By Joseph R. Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.
First and foremost there is a huge legal obstacle in the way. This obstacle was created in 1990 when Congress enacted the Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA). With gun violence on the rise this sounded like the perfect solution. Fast forward to 2018 and we see that the GFSZA hasn’t done much to deter active shooters from entering our schools. Rewind back to 1995 and you will find that Congress does not have the right to infringe upon our Second Amendment Rights, thus making the GFSZA unconstitutional (United States v. Lopez). However, most States decided to neglect this ruling by ignoring the United States Supreme Court and the Constitution, due to the amended version that included the Commerce Clause . Keep in mind this is not the only time that the States have ignored the Constitution and our Second Amendment Rights, which was seen during the ground breaking case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that ended with the Court declaring the Second Amendment affords individuals the right to self-defense through the legal possession of firearms.
Take New Jersey for example, under state law, firearms are prohibited at public schools. New Jersey also prohibits those authorized with valid CCW permits from carrying weapons on school grounds without the written approval from an authorized school official (2C:39-5e). Now take a look at New Hampshire, who permits firearms and CCW on school property. How does one state allow firearms on school property and another prohibit it? It’s simple! One is adhering to the Constitution and the other is eluding it.
Based on the research on hand and appellate court rulings, all this talk about arming school teachers does not hold much weight and may fall on deaf ears, as the majority of our lower courts honor the GFSZA. The authorization of school employees carrying firearms is likely not to come without the eradication of the GFSZA. This is not a matter of opinion, but factually based on most appellate court decisions as researched through all thirteen circuit courts.
Additionally, forty two states currently prohibit the carrying of firearms on school grounds and with the knowledge of having strict gun laws, it’s easy to speculate that we will most likely not see an increase of school administrators or teachers carrying firearms in our schools any time soon.
Rather than adding to the debate of gun control, perhaps we should steady the course and allow our law enforcement officers to do what they signed on for. It is their responsibility to serve and protect just as much as it is the responsibility of our teachers to educate. The only feasible way we can expedite making our schools safer is through an increase police presence. Each and every school deserves to be a safe haven, which is conducive to healthy learning.
This however comes with a hefty price tag, but the value of a child or any human life for that matter cannot be put at risk due to the lack of funding, at least not in the United States that is.
In closing, gun control will most likely dictate whether or not society is willing to arm our school employees. President Trump has major decisions to make that could very well lead to the eradication of the GFSZA. This is certainly one to watch for that could end up at the United States Supreme Court.
Joe Uliano has served as a police officer for over fifteen years, and is assigned as field training officer and departmental instructor. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Education at Seton Hall University, where he also earned an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Management. Prior to earning this advanced degree, he also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, Training, and Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.