Joe Arpaio Wants Armed Posses at Schools: Why Arizona Sheriff's Plan is Not the Answer


In placing a group of armed volunteers outside schools, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona hopes to deter criminals from ever attempting to attack schools. This isn’t a bad idea. Often, schools are targeted for shootings and bombings because the security is lax and schools are vastly unprepared for such an attack.

Arpaio’s idea is not the first of its kind either. Many legislators have proposed the idea informally already. The Associated Press reports, “Attorney General Tom Horne proposed firearms training for one person in each school. And Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu proposed training multiple educators per school to carry guns.”

So is Arpaio’s plan a good one? Shall we start enlisting volunteers to stand outside our schools? Frankly, if I were a child, it would scare me to see those people around. On the other hand, if a teacher I knew and trusted was armed and prepared for an event like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, I would be much more at ease. My ideal solution would be to allow eligible teachers and faculty to have a concealed weapon either on their persons or in their classroom. I would add the stipulations of a psychiatric evaluation, a gun safety course, and would not permit persons on psychiatric medication to have a concealed weapon on campus. Given these circumstances, our schools would be much safer.

But there’s another component to gun violence that I haven’t addressed yet, and that’s the mental health of those who have perpetrated school shootings. In almost all of these cases, there has been a history of a troubled mental state. We must be more proactive about the mental health of those around us. In my family there is a history of mental illness, and I have seen firsthand how troubling it can be. Often, the family member taking care of the person with the disease is embarrassed or ashamed. There’s a stigma with mental illness that makes people think the illness is part of their personality, and makes them a bad person. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to remove that stigma, and get these people help. As much as people do not want to admit it, Adam Lanza was a victim in his own right. His mental state was clearly disturbed, and he needed more help than he received.

I’ve seen time and time again how brave men and women have saved lives by possessing and using a concealed carry permit. If these permits were employed by our school teachers, there would be a safeguard for children. If we were to address mental health concerns as freely as we do our physical health concerns, we would be able to help people like Adam Lanza figure out what was misfiring, and help them to lead happier lives.

There’s no easy way to solve the problem of gun violence, and there’s so much to think about. Adding more guns or taking away guns alone will not solve the problem. Neither will banning video games that have guns in them. Legislation on this topic will ever be effective in confronting the problem; we’re going to have to take a dynamic approach to a dynamic problem. If we were to do just these two things instead of hiring a cop on every corner, a posse at every school; I am sure that we’d be much closer to finding a solution to the problem of gun violence.