Should Teachers Be Armed?

Should teachers be armed? This question is premature. In today’s monopoly law enforcement systems funded by forced extractions of money from taxpayers, lawmakers will answer this question. There will be public debate, such as is now occurring. Lawmakers will hear the arguments and they will decide. Their decisions will, however, not be according to criteria that relate directly to the welfare of the children of their citizens. The incentives faced by lawmakers will not create such a connection in the clarity that the citizens demand. The system is bound to frustrate the citizens.

This question cannot be answered in an appropriate way as long as the law enforcement monopoly remains in place. Whether teachers should be armed or not, either answer made within the monopoly system simply maintains and possibly intensifies the problems inherent within that system. Whether or not teachers should be armed can only be answered properly if incentives are aligned properly, and that cannot happen until the system of law enforcement is opened to competition. It also cannot happen until tax-funded school districts are ended, because they too prevent the consumers of education from buying into schools that are safe for their children.

There are “fixes” that monopolized school districts have chosen, all sorts of fixes such as searching lockers, lockdowns, drills, drug-free zones and a police presence, but none of these are the result of the kinds of direct consumer choices that would be prevalent if there were competition. Arming teachers is another one of these fixes. Instead of perpetuating the system and adding fixes that cannot replicate a free market in law enforcement, the monopolies of school districts and police forces funded by taxes should be opened up to competition. This means that citizens should have options to purchase the education and law enforcement services.

The arming of teachers is a measure that can be evaluated by companies that offer to protect the safety of students at schools. They have a profit incentive to decide whether such a measure is worth the costs, since they bear those costs and they experience the benefits of making decisions that produce student safety. Arming teachers involves costs such as training teachers, preventing weapons from being misplaced or misused by teachers, stolen, and even conceivably commandeered by malefactors. It imposes costs on teachers that they may be unwilling to accept. There are legal liability issues that crop up.

One does not expect that evaluating these and other costs and benefits flows in any sort of effective way from democratic processes of government. One expects the very opposite. Government is the last place one should look for deciding how to protect school children, how to run schools, how to run police and how to produce law enforcement for its citizens. It is only the tyranny of a long-established status quo in which government took on these tasks that holds us back from removing these government-enforced monopolies and realizing the freedom we profess to cherish.

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