President of Florida Education Association Says Arming Teachers Is Not the Answer

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Image via AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File.

By Mivette Vega

June 10, 2022

Some Republicans are recommending that teachers be trained and armed to deal with killers. Andrew Spar thinks the solution is on a very different path.

If members of law enforcement, who are trained to deal with weapons and handle violent situations, were slow to confront the Uvalde, Texas gunman, is it reasonable to expect a teacher to face an armed killer?

Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association (FEA), brings up that scenario in response to some Republicans’ proposal to train and arm teachers to deal with the deadly mass shootings that are spreading across the US.

RELATED: After Uvalde Tragedy, DeSantis, Florida Legislature Remain Silent on Gun Safety

On May 24, 2022, Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School and began shooting indiscriminately with two semi-automatic rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition, which he had purchased legally days after his 18th birthday, on May 16. That day, 19 children and two teachers were gunned down.

Reports say police members waited more than an hour to enter the connected classrooms where students were trapped after the shooting began. The shooting became the deadliest in a decade, since the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

“We’re saying we expect teachers, who are trained to care for kids, to confront someone with an AR-15? And these law enforcement officers are trained for this kind of situation. It’s not logical to say we should put more guns in the hands of teachers,” Spar told Floricua.

Florida has also been the scene of tragic mass shootings, one of which took place in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed.

As the father of two daughters, and a former teacher with more than 20 years of experience, it is inconceivable to ​​Spar that schools have become a place that causes concern and fear in the community.

“When you heard the reports coming out from Uvalde, where law enforcement had to ask parents for DNA so they could verify their kids, that’s baffling and heartbreaking. The idea that kids had to be identified through DNA, because of the massacre that occurred in their classroom!” Spar said with dismay.

The FEA president believes that strong solutions must be sought at the state and federal levels. For him, looking for solutions in the classroom—like arming teachers, and closing entrances and exits, as some Republicans have proposed—is not effective. 

“In that school, the issue wasn’t that they had multiple entry points. The issue was that a lock failed at one of the doors, so he was able to walk in. And there was an armed officer assigned to that school that was not there for whatever reason. They had all of these in place, and it still didn’t work, because we are not dealing with the base of the issue, which is how did someone get their hands on a military assault weapon at the age of 18?” Spar said.

The FEA president says there are three basic key factors Congress and state governments should work on to find a solution to the gun violence epidemic, which is killing 41,000 Americans a year, according to Giffords, a nonprofit organization.  

He said first, there’s a need to reinforce and implement red flag laws throughout the country, restricting access to weapons to people who should not have them. Second, it’s necessary to raise the age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons to 21, and third, background checks that help determine if a person is capable of owning a gun need to be implemented.

RELATED: Why Are So Many Teens Involved in Recent Shootings?

Last but not least, Spar reiterates the importance of giving schools resources to address the mental health needs of students and adults. He said every school should have a psychologist, a social worker, and a school counselor.

“In Florida, after the shooting in Parkland, there were talks about getting more aggressive in providing mental health services for students, but it hasn’t gone far enough. Most of our school psychologists, for example, end up having 10 or 12 schools they are responsible for,” Spar said. “There’s no way they can effectively support kids.”


  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.



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