Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal doesn’t sugarcoat what he thinks about President Donald Trump’s idea to arm teachers with guns.
“The president is wrong,” Reykdal told KIRO Nights. “We can find no evidence that more guns in schools is a solution to this problem that we face. The Florida incident, as tragic as it was, had an armed officer there.”
Reykdal notes that there are incidents where well-trained police officers cannot stop a madman with a gun. So the idea to arm teachers in case of a mass shooting at school makes no sense.
“I know everyone has these knee-jerk reactions, but there is just no evidence that this would be the right thing to do,” he said. “And can you imagine recruiting a young teacher and saying that not only are we going to need to you be good at biology and math, but we are going to need you to take down one of your students once in a while. It’s absurd.”
Reykdal: Guns, schools, and deadly force
Governor Jay Inslee also pushed back against President Trump’s idea while at the National Governors Association. Trump’s idea is to arm a “small portion” of teachers. These teachers would be “very gun adept.” He said that the potential of retaliation will deter shooters from schools.
“I don’t think a young person who is struggling with severe mental illness who brings an AR-15 to school is that rational,” Reykdal said. “They clearly aren’t because they are entering facilities that sometimes have armed officers. What we do know … is that we already have a well-trained police force and significant racial disproportionality with deadly use-of-force. So if well-trained officers have a disproportionate use of deadly force for students of color, what’s going to happen with a bunch of amateur teachers armed with guns?”
“It’s so wrong-headed for us to even have this as a rational thought right now, before we do other interventions,” he said.
Other interventions would be to have trained officers in schools and mental health coordination. That’s beginning to happen now in Washington, Reykdal said. The Legislature has put money toward providing mental health to at-risk students.
“Until we have a real gun debate about keeping guns out of the hands of kids who shouldn’t have them; until we get there, let’s not jump to the conclusion that they are going to bring guns, so now how do we stop them,” Reykdal said. “Let’s just not have kids bring guns to school.”