Michigan Shooting Reignites Debate Over Arming Teachers

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Baltimore protest against police shootings, 2014. Photo by Bruce Emmerling via Flickr

Authorities are now being open with the public about certain details of the latest school shooting in Michigan, where 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley is accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people at Oxford High School, according to the New York Times.

And, because of these new details coming to light — particularly regarding lock-down protocol in schools — experts are hailing that the training the students received had “saved lives.” 

Crumbley appeared in court yesterday facing first-degree murder and terrorism charges after he opened fire with the “intent to kill.” Crumbley, a sophomore, plead not guilty and was denied bond. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted, USA Today details. 

This situation has reigned the debate regarding arming teachers in America so that staff can actively fight back in life-threatening situations like this, while others are advocating for stricter gun policies.

Reigniting the Firearm Debate

Over the past few days, top Republican officials have been advocating for teachers to be armed in schools, saying if teachers had secure personal weapons in lockboxes at school, they could be used to protect students before police come to their aid.  

As more news of the events came out to the public, the same lawmakers announced plans on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would put their words to paper,  reports the Detroit News. 

Many Republicans are also looking to Ohio as a potential framework, as the Ohio House passed a bill this month permitting teachers to carry firearms in schools as long as the local school board adopts the policy. 

The Ohio bill outlines that teachers would get minimal firearms training and certification requirements, as well as work with the school resource officers in outlining responsibilities and security. 

In response, many Democrats argue that the answer shouldn’t be to put more guns in dangerous situations, but that there should be more reform in the first place. 

Speaking in a later statement on behalf of Michigan’s legislative Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) and Rep. Brenda Carter, (D-Pontiac) noted gun reform has met resistance in the past. 

“We have introduced common-sense gun safety legislation in the past and, in doing so, have warned about the very tragedy we now face,” the statement said. “We are reaching across the aisle, seeking to revisit this issue so we can hopefully prevent another senseless tragedy in our schools, and must recognize that the freedom to kill is not more important than the freedom to live and learn in peace.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, (R-Clarklake), responded, telling reporters Wednesday that there will be time to determine whether the Legislature should act. He also praised the quick actions of first responders but also speculated regarding whether there were warning signs missed, according to the Detroit News. 

In terms of which way he leans on the debate, he responded, “It’s a balance. It’s a very narrow road, and it’s hard. These kinds of events keep those thoughts in mind.

Even through these conversations, some say that if teachers were armed, that wouldn’t have made a difference in this situation. 

Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said surveillance video of the shooting showed Crumbley “methodically and deliberately” walking down a hallway and firing at students.

“What’s depicted on that video, honestly, judge, I don’t have the words to describe how horrific that was,” Keast said in court, as quoted by USA Today.

While some are advocating for teachers arming themselves or stricter gun laws, others are simply praising the existing teachings of school-shooting protocols. 

‘Look at My Badge, Bro!’

A viral video to come out of Tuesday’s casualty event has scared and shocked America — but not because of violent content, rather, because of the glimpse inside of a huddled and silent classroom and a conversation between someone outside the door. 

The video shows students at Oxford High School in Michigan sitting silently in the back of their classroom, with the lights turned off, just as traditional school-shooting training protocols have directed for decades. Many comments on the video across all platforms highlight 

A male voice can be heard from outside the classroom door, saying, “Sheriff’s office. It’s safe to come out.” 

The classroom is silent when another male close to the door responds, “We’re not willing to take that risk right now.” Following their response, the male outside the classroom protested, saying, “Well, come to the door and look at my badge, bro!”

The students in the classroom take his vernacular of including the term “bro” as a red-flag, and flee the room, running outside to safety. 

While it’s unclear at this time whether the person outside the door was the shooter or a trained law enforcement officer, many are looking to this moment caught on video as the center-piece for the importance of why lock-down protocols in schools are vital — and the importance of proper training. 

In a statement published on Facebook overnight, the sheriff said that after a “detailed walk-through and examination” of the scene it was “evident” that “the lockdown protocols, training and equipment Oxford schools had in place saved lives.”

Despite the proper training, the tragedy still hurts, and the community continues to be in pain, the New York Times details.

Aria Segura, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Michigan, said no one should have to experience what her cousin, a student at Oxford High School, had to endure. 

“We should not have to live in a world with gun violence in our schools, or in our communities, but for far too many of us, this is our reality,” Segura told the Detroit News. “We need real action to protect all students and communities from gun violence.”

Additional Reading: A Hopeful Twist on the Gun Debate? The Crime Report, Dec. 1, 2021

This summary was prepared by TCR Associate Editor Andrea Cipriano.

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