Gun owners advocacy group calls for arming teachers
By John McPhaul
Ariel Torres Meléndez, president of the Corporation for the Defense of Puerto Rico Weapons License Holders (CODEPOLA by its Spanish acronym), said Monday that in order to guarantee the safety of teachers and their students in the event of an active shooter on a school campus, teaching and non-teaching staff in the Department of Education should be allowed to carry firearms.
“Before the government invests millions of dollars in equipment to detect firearms in schools, it should consider working on an administrative memo with specific guidelines, and make joint efforts between the Department of Education and the Police Bureau to train teachers in the same Police Academy and allow them to carry weapons to defend their lives and those of their students,” Torres Meléndez said.
The CODEPOLA president noted that the metal detectors in various government agencies such as the Department of the Treasury, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the courts are not working properly, despite being inside the buildings and protected from inclement weather.
“Now imagine the detectors in schoolyards under rain and sun,” Torres Meléndez said.
Torres Meléndez said arming teachers is not new within the Department of Education, recalling that in 2014 the then-secretary “authorized teachers to carry weapons in schools and staff in a hidden, non-ostentatious way, specifically those who had already started the process for obtaining licenses to own and carry weapons.”
“Now, with the change in the Weapons Law (Law 168-2019), it would be much easier because the teacher has to have passed the course on the use and handling of weapons prior to obtaining the license” Torres Meléndez said. “In other words, he/she would be duly trained to defend life and property.”
Regarding stricter gun control, he noted, as an example, that in Chicago, in one of the states with the highest control of weapons in the United States, there were 23 shooting incidents, five of them fatal, over Memorial Day weekend.
Torres Meléndez insisted that “I do not see any ‘issue’ in this matter, if since 2014 some teachers, [school] guards and other personnel have been authorized to carry concealed [firearms] by instruction of the secretary of Education, without any incident having occurred.”
“Administrative Memo No. 24-2013-2014 was an advanced document and took into account a possible act of an active shooter,” he said. “This Secretary had a vision of the future and things, when done right, can be continued and emulated, not discarded.”