Arming teachers discussed at Students 4 Change forum

Students 4 Change organized the event. They're advocating for a safer community and hope the open discussion will generate ideas.

Posted: Apr. 20, 2018 10:26 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Students at home and across the country are calling on lawmakers to take action on gun safety.

Friday marked the 19th anniversary of the deadly Columbine school shooting. The tragedy sparked a conversation about guns and school safety and that discussion continues.

Instead of a walkout, students in Vigo county made their voices heard through a community forum at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Students 4 Change organized the event. They're advocating for a safer community and hope the open discussion will generate ideas.

One of those ideas is arming teachers and not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Student Sarah Behnke says, "That terrifies me and I would just like to know, can I trust my community that I never have to be scared of my teacher when I'm sitting in school just trying to learn?"

A panel of five local leaders agrees it's not a good idea.

Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse, Indiana State University student Isaac Deal, Indiana State University librarian Brain Bunnet, Terre Haute Arson Investigator Norm Loudermilk and Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods postulant Emily TeKolste shared their thoughts on school safety and answered questions from the audience.

The event was moderated by News 10's Alia Blackburn.

Deal says he does not think teachers should be armed unless the teacher chooses to do so on their own.

Student Chloe Simmamartin says, "We all need to agree that there is a problem and it hasn't been addressed thoroughly yet and so I think that this town hall would be the first step in changing that."

Some say making schools safer and the need for gun reform are directly related but others disagree.

One man at the forum says, "This ain't a gun problem. People aren't raising their kids right, alright, and then you got everything else involved."

Students who organized the forum say they plan to continue the work so they can feel safe.

"This is our first starting place and we hope it will gain momentum in the community and we can do more things to get going."

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