AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A national conversation on how to best protect children in school started after a gunman walked into a Florida high school and killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day. Now that those students have marched on Washington and even Tweeted on the matter, the focus turns to whether teachers should carry in classrooms.
It’s a difficult conversation to have about school. Books, writing utensils, grades and now guns? Unfortunately, these mass shootings have left many people with one question: Should teachers carry guns?
That question is still one Erika Bailey, who has two children in high school, has to think about. But she know she wants her children safe.
“If it is a teacher who has experience with a weapon that can protect them then of course that is the great thing to do.”
It’s a reality no parent, student or teacher wants to face; a school shooting. But it’s happening and in recent history too many times.
Students protested. And Washington heard. Now everyone is grappling with the question of whether teachers can do more than just educate to keep kids safe.
Edgefield County’s Milton L., who chose not to share his last name, formerly worked in law enforcement. He said, “One guy in a school? That’s too much area for that guy to cover.” He added equipping teachers, then, would be the best option.
While most people we spoke with reflected on the horrors of children dodging from bullets during learning time, some told us it’s still a tough decision.
Bailey added, “That there is a teacher who may lose control and just not think the situation through not only against someone that is coming into the school, it could be against the student.”
In Georgia, Richmond, Columbia and Burke Counties and Aiken County, South Carolina schools do not allow guns on campus.
We caught up with Richmond County Communications Director Kaden Jacobs. He told us, “The Georgia Code says you cannot carry in a school building. If you have a concealed carry permit that’s a misdemeanor. If you do not, that’s a felony.”
Each district has an armed officer or deputy at the ready at varying schools. While Richmond and Aiken County Schools would not comment or consider making changes during pending legislation, the topic of arming other adults is under review in Burke County.
Columbia County Schools Superintendent Sandra Carraway said they are working with local law enforcement to create an appropriate plan for how the district moves forward.
But South Carolina Senator Tim Scott already has an answer to whether teachers should be armed while instructing.
“I don’t think so,” Sen. Scott told NewsChannel 6 during a recent visit to his district. “But that is going to be a superintendent’s decision, not mine.”
Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, who is the former Richmond County Schools Board of Education Police Chief, shared words on the conversation on social media:
NewsChannel 6 did not want to release which schools had how many officers or deputies due to compromising safety there.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins