The Norman Transcript

Education

January 17, 2013

Issues arising in firearms debate

(Continued)

NORMAN —

For Gregg Garn, dean of the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, the best answer is collaboration and planning.

“Arming teachers would not be my first suggestion, there are a lot of other things districts can do to make schools safe,” Garn said. “I think an initial assessment of security strengths and weaknesses is one of the first things districts can do, and joining the larger conversation on safety with law enforcement entities brings a lot of expertise to bear that schools just don’t have. It’s probably not your best strategy to have teachers try to solve these issues.”

Hampton agreed.

“Teachers came into the profession to be teachers, not law enforcement officers,” she said.

Hampton emphasized that a major piece of the “bigger picture” must be mental health, citing shortcomings in funding as a serious obstacle.

“There need to be background checks and better counseling in schools, so as to identify problems before they happen. Counselors in schools now have very little time for one-on-one counseling with troubled students,” Hampton said. “It’s easy to identify a child with a problem. It’s another to address that problem, and mental health solutions will be very costly for our government to address,”

Cost is also a problem for potential integration of firearms, as McCullough’s suggestion for teachers receiving Council on Law Enforcement and Education Training (CLEET) to receive arms authorization would come with a huge price tag.

“Some of our members have come forward to me, saying they already have concealed carry licenses and expressing a desire to be able to carry their firearms at school, but CLEET training costs $10,000 per person,” Tinney said. “Our teachers are very committed to children, and those who talk about CCL are acting on a desire to nurture and protect.”

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