Students have mixed reactions to armed police officer: Risk outweighs benefits

Students have mixed reactions to armed police officer: Risk outweighs benefits

By Elizabeth Campbell

Where there are guns, violence often follows. Do not bring that potential violence into our school by putting a gun here.  CHS was recently issued an armed police officer. It should not have happened.

Guns are highly powerful, and while they are fine to use responsibly for recreation, the supposed protection they provide is not worth the risk they bring onto our students.

According to a government research project, The Safe School Initiative, the odds of a student in grades 9-12 being fatally shot is less than one in a million.  Montgomery County Public Schools has never had a fatal school shooting.

Even in the very unlikely case that CHS is ever attacked, there is no guarantee that our armed police officer would be able to stop the shooter. There was an armed guard on school property at Columbine, but the shooters there killed 15 people and injured 23.

The uncertainty of which student is the bad guy, as was the case in Columbine, could cause police officers to hesitate to avoid shooting an innocent student. This natural reaction gives the shooter another advantage, on top of already having the element of surprise on their side, making an armed police officer that much less helpful in protection.

Not only does a loaded gun not prevent the threat of attack, it could even increase it. All it takes is for one person or group of people to overpower the police officer and steal the officer’s gun, something that is not completely out of the question.

In 2012 a high school student in Arkansas stole a gun from his teacher and smuggled it out of the room.

Some may argue that since police officers are issued special security holsters, a student could not steal the gun. This is not the case. While security holsters may prevent a straight grab of the gun it will not prevent an officer from being knocked unconscious and someone figuring out the lock mechanism on the holster. Most holsters used by police departments can be searched online to figure out how to unlock them.

There is also the chance of accidental shootings that could arise when there is a gun around.

In May, an armed school guard in Colorado accidentally shot a student in the leg in the parking lot, and in a separate event, a police officer accidentally shot an innocent student who had been taken hostage by a gunman. In August a police officer accidentally shot himself in the leg while holstering his weapon. The list goes on and on.

In addition to the physical risk a gun causes students, there is also the psychological risk.

According to a study done by the National Association of School Psychologists, highly visible efforts to increase school safety, such as cameras or armed guards, decrease student’s feelings of security and negatively affect the learning environment.

According to clinical psychologist and administrator at the National Association of School Psychologists, Eric Rossen, who was interviewed for a Dec. 20, 2012 Washington Post article, despite what people think at times like these, schools remain one of the safest places for children in America. So statistically, the psychological costs outweigh any potential benefit.

CHS should not have a loaded gun on school grounds and instead have the officer assigned to the CHS community area. This would keep the officer close in the rare event of a school shooting but far enough away to not add any risk to CHS students. Montgomery County needs to stop putting students at risk and take guns out of our schools.