Opinion: Arm Mississippi teachers, pay them more

Posted on Mar 7 2018 - 5:55am by Tyler Jordon

House Bill 1083 was overwhelmingly passed 80-29 by the Mississippi Legislature last month, which, if signed into law, would allow enhanced concealed carry permit holders to carry their guns on public property.

In light of recent school shootings, the Mississippi Senate will vote on an amendment of HB 1083 that will allow teachers and professors at public and private schools the opportunity to carry firearms on school property. However, in order for educators to obtain the enhanced concealed carry permit, they’ll have to take 12 hours of firearms training from local law enforcement officers.

This amendment will increase safety in Mississippi schools and deter shooters.

Though there are police officers in several Mississippi schools, school shooters can lock themselves in a classroom, preventing the school’s law enforcement officer from taking action. Therefore, if an armed teacher is present, the situation could potentially be neutralized before it gets out of hand.

Plus, in many past school shootings, police and other first responders didn’t enter until the shooting was over. Obviously, by that time, it is far too late and the damage has been done. And because school shooters typically act alone, if there are armed teachers in the school, they can eliminate the threat quickly.

Many school shooters are also cowards and attack schools they know don’t have any armed guards. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that many potential shooters wouldn’t have the nerve to shoot up a school if they knew there were multiple teachers who would eliminate them as soon as they pointed a weapon toward a student.

However, our legislators are naive. Before we decide to ask more of our teachers than we already do, we must better compensate them. On average, high school teachers in Mississippi are paid $43,950 per year, the second-lowest teachers’ salary in the nation.

If our legislators expect our educators to provide education, emotional support and, now, armed security to our children, then their salaries must increase, or the teachers who will take the concealed carry training must at least receive bonuses.  

If our legislators refuse to better compensate our teachers, they run the risk of pushing well-qualified teachers to other states that’ll compensate them better.

With Mississippi’s education system ranking 46th in the U.S., we can’t afford to lose good teachers or we will be at the bottom.

Tyler Jordon is a senior political science major from Charleston, West Virginia.