Opinion

A reasonable compromise: Arm teachers with pepper spray

Ron Meyer Chairman, Refresh America PAC

Teacher Victoria Soto, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, and principal Dawn Hochsprung all died diving in front of children at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Totally unarmed, they did the only thing they could: use their bodies to shield the precious young students.

It’s time to arm our teachers, but maybe not with guns. Yes, if Soto, Sherlach, or Hichsprung carried guns, they likely could have stopped Adam Lanza — but they also could have stopped him with a more school-friendly weapon: Pepper spray.

If any of the Sandy Hook employees had pepper spray, countless lives would have been saved and many of these heroes would have not died in vain.

This week, teacher Antoinette Tuff heroically saved countless students in Georgia by talking down the would-be mass murderer at her school. She too was willing to lay it all on the line to defend her kids, and this situation has left America yearning for some way to prevent the next school shooting.

Pepper spray offers an affordable, easy-to-use, child-friendly defensive weapon that could be deployed nationwide almost immediately.

Pepper spray offers many of the defense benefits of handgun, without the high costs and safety worries associated with arming every teacher in America. Providing teachers with pepper spray is a nonpartisan, uncontroversial solution to a complex problem.

Almost all the teachers I know, and most Americans, feel uncomfortable having guns in classrooms. Not only would it cost billions of dollars to buy a gun for and train every teacher in the country, most Americans don’t want guns to be accessible in a room filled with elementary school children.

Pepper spray, being non-lethal, is a compromise teachers, parents, and students can all feel comfortable adopting.

Unlike handguns, pepper spray can be kept immediately accessible in the classroom. Any gun would have to be kept in a childproof safe. No child gets killed if a classmate finds the pepper spray. Pepper spray hurts, but does not injure. Unlike with handguns, a teacher can learn how to use pepper spray in an hour. Also unlike with guns, pepper spray is affordable for every school district in the nation.

Plus, pepper spray is also incredibly effective. Pentagon security and our military employ it as an nonlethal deterrent. A good spray can has an easy reach of 30 feet, and it immediately impedes the intruder. Some may advocate for taser guns, but since they have limited range and could potentially cause kids serious injury, I believe pepper spray is the safer option.

I see very little reason why national Democrats and Republicans, state legislatures, and school districts across the country cannot get behind this solution. As a gun owner, I understand guns can be controversial, and that’s why I welcome a compromise like protecting our kids with nonlethal force.

Ideally, funding and implementation for this program would happen school district by school district. The federal government has little constitutional role in managing schools. However, defending kids against would-be mass murderers seems similar enough to national defense to merit congressional attention.

For instance, as a Virginia congressional candidate, I’m calling for a bill to allow the federal government to create an opt-in system for school districts to help get the pepper spray effort started. By buying in mass quantities, we can help save these school districts some extra costs.

In our current environment in Washington, we have to find alternative solutions both sides can agree on. Some conservatives would like to arm all teachers. Some liberals want to ban most guns. Neither of those solutions could ever get passed in Congress.

I believe this solution could pass and get the president’s signature. And at least some school districts can start to do it on their own. Our kids’ safety has no price tag, and we cannot let partisan bickering hamper a sensible solution to stopping mass murders at our nation’s schools.

Ron Meyer is a candidate for Congress in Northern Virginia’s 11th District. He frequently appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC. Find out more at RonMeyer.com.