The KPK government is apparently going ahead with its plan to arm school teachers. Will the education department now function as a semi law enforcement agency?
As the federal government accepts failure to reform judicial system by establishing military courts, arming teachers with weapons is an implied admission of the provincial government’s failure to protect its schools.
Are we oblivious of the many ways in which this ingenious step can go wrong?
These teachers are not trained to handle firearms – not that civil law enforcement agencies are aptly trained – and are not familiar with or experienced in standard precautions necessary for the handler’s protection and the protection of those around him/her. Anything from an urge to show off the weapon to children, who are often fascinated by weapons and guns, to leaving the weapon unattended can result in an unpleasant accident. Which may then result in disarming of staff in all schools which will leave them feeling exposed, unsafe and insecure, more than they felt before being armed.
The decision to arm school’s staff is in line with similar decisions taken in various districts of the United States of America, as a consequence of shooting incidents in schools and public places. The US constitution’s second amendment allows its citizens to own and carry weapons as a right. It is pertinent to know that this right is very reasonably blamed for the various acts of violence in the US. The ease of access to guns for all citizens, including children is the major contributor in school massacres like the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012. Nevertheless several states in the US went on with more weapons as a solution to problems caused by weapons.
The Peshawar massacre was different in comparison with tragedies like Sandy Hook. While in Sandy Hook a seemingly deranged individual shot and killed children, the Peshawar massacre witnessed an organized group acting out a planned execution with ulterior motives. In the absence of any constitutional allowance to carry and own weapons, the KPK government has the Pashtun custom of not frowning upon weapon carrying as a catalyst for their decision. Also the Army Public School massacre cannot be attributed to a weaponized society, not entirely at least.
The arming of school’s staff in the US and KPK are, nevertheless, equally unfortunate. Schools are not a place for guns, or any tools for destruction. Children need not be exposed to guns and violence. True that such exposure is abundant in movies, fictions and even news – thanks to wars and terrorism, but that cannot be a justification to allow such tools of violence to enter their schools too.
In our evolution towards civility and democracy one hopes to be moving towards peace, tolerance and a non violent, de-weaponized society. Children are the future and increasing their exposure to, and reliance on weapons is a step backwards.
The government’s logic that there are thousands of schools and the number renders it almost impossible to provide ample security to each and every institution cannot justify arming school’s teachers and staff. If the schools are in thousands then the teachers must be in six, seven or tens of thousands. Such number of armed individuals with varying personalities, mindsets, anger issues, complexes, IQs and EQs around children, poses a very apparent and present probability of accidents.
We want our children protected. Not just from terrorists, but also from violence, guns, intolerance and fear. It is enough for our four, five and six year olds to enter schools that look like military camps with gunmen, barricades and mounted LMGs. They don’t need to learn ABC from a guy with a gun.
Terrorism is an ailment and not an injury. It requires a treatment through strenuous long term procedures and not short term bandaging. We have to ensure that while we fight to eradicate terrorism and violence, that fight does not make us retract our steps towards civility and peace. If we start moving backwards then at the culmination of our fight against extremism and terrorism we may stand facing even greater, viler demons.