Expert tells Arkansas lawmakers: More armed teachers, less school resource officers
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
School resource officers are not the answer.
That's what one expert told Arkansas lawmakers on Monday as they consider how to make schools in the state more secure. Several speakers presented their findings as lawmakers gear up to propose and create new laws next year.
One of those experts was Dr. John Lott Jr., an author of nine books including "More Guns, Less Crime"." He's the one who cautioned lawmakers about using more resource officers. But Moms Demand Action, a group that aims to reduce gun violence through common-sense gun legislation, said arming teachers is not the answer.
"The question," Lott said, "is what's your backup plan if you're not able to identify these individuals beforehand? And my main point is that having one officer in a school who's identified as the person who's supposed to stop these attacks is an almost impossible job. Having somebody in uniform there is like putting somebody with a neon sign that says shoot me first."
Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told Arkansas lawmakers on Monday that arming teachers makes more sense, as it's nearly impossible to identify mental illness before a mass shooting occurs.
"You really need to seriously consider, like we have in 20 states, allowing teachers and staff to be able to go and carry to take away those strategic advantages ... [so] the killers won't know who has the gun,” Lott said.
Moms Demand Action’s Little Rock chapter was hoping to speak at this meeting to refute Lott's claims. Members said their organization's research is actually evidence based and arming teachers is a mistake.
"There have been multiple incidents of teachers negligently discharging their guns in schools," said Austin Bailey, a spokeswoman for the group. "There have also been instances of teachers discharging their guns in schools on purpose. I think that at the end of this school year there was one in Georgia where a teacher just started shooting out the windows in his class. There was one where the firearm teacher shot himself in the leg."
Bailey said Moms Demand Action supports universal background checks and red flag laws, which would allow for a temporary court order restricting people's access to firearms.