On the afternoon of Valentine’s Day 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Tragically, 17 people were killed. Among them were faculty members who put their lives on the line to protect their students at all costs.
After the massacre—one of the nation’s deadliest—students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have responded with immense sadness but also a vocal determination that this type of incident cannot happen again; they empowered their rallying cry with an apt and powerful hashtag: #NeverAgain. The hashtag campaign, which has since gone viral, led to a meeting with President Trump. At a listening session, several of the Parkland students pleaded with Trump to enact stricter gun laws.
Largely ignoring their appeals, the President later said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that certain teachers should instead be armed with guns. “These teachers love their students,” he said. “And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And they feel safe.” He tweeted a similar sentiment, too, stating that it should be “up to states” to implement these programs in their schools.
Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2018
Trump’s idea has not gone over well with students, parents, politicians, and especially teachers. Educators contend that giving some “good guys with a gun” won’t fix the nationwide gun problem. Additionally, it shouldn’t be a teacher’s responsibility to learn how to carry and use a deadly weapon as they educate students—often with limited resources that they supplement out of their own pocket.
Like the Parkland students, teachers have taken to social media to express their concerns and frustrations. Using the hashtag #ArmMeWith, educators are advocating for the things they’d actually want to be “armed with.” And as you might’ve guessed, it’s not a firearm. Teachers want things like more available supplies or better emotional support for all students. Some call for smaller class sizes to help them connect with all of their pupils.
#ArmMeWith was created by two educators named Brittany Wheaton and Olivia Bertels. They live in Utah and Kansas, respectively, but they met through Instagram. Together, they have upwards of 100,000 followers on their two individual accounts and used their following to amplify the #ArmMeWith message.
“Since teachers are the individuals in the classroom when it happens, I like to think we know what’s best for our students,” Wheaton explained. “If you’re an educator, you know that [more guns] is not a solution to stopping the violence that’s happening in our schools. Knowing that, I decided to start the #armmewith movement, where ACTUAL teachers give their solutions to what’s happening.”
If you’re an educator who wants to join #ArmMeWith, there is a free Google template that you can download and make your own.
In response to President Trump’s recent comments that some teachers should be trained and armed with guns, educators from across the US have used the hashtag #ArmMeWith to express what they’d actually like to be armed with…
— Jessica Turlington (@turlingteach) February 21, 2018
… from gun control itself…
The day teachers are asked to carry guns in the classroom is the day I leave my dream job I’ve had since I was 16 years old. I don’t want to take away guns. I want control on them.#armmewith #enoughisenough #schoolsafetynow pic.twitter.com/XIHjWTSE7H
— Lindsey Paull (@Miss_Johnston5) February 21, 2018
… to smaller class sizes…
— Aimee D. (@akennedy731) February 23, 2018
— Heather Newkirk (@heather_newkirk) February 22, 2018
… to better emotional support for all students.
— Eileen Oviatt (@HelloItsMsO) February 23, 2018
— Katie Austin (@austinkatie_) February 21, 2018
During a time in history that is often disheartening, frustrating, and sometimes simply unbelievable, these children fighting back give me hope. While I am a teacher I promise to fight for my students and colleagues. Please #armmewith the things I need. pic.twitter.com/xqbAKsDZWY
— Jessica (@jessinpgh) February 23, 2018
— The Honorable (@BrotherFurious) February 23, 2018
— Wendy Gassaway (@WendyGassaway) February 23, 2018
— Vicky Johnston (@VickyJohnston61) February 23, 2018
— Miss Ashley LaGrow (@MissLaGrow) February 22, 2018
— Sherri Lee (@kuneshkids1) February 23, 2018
I’m trained to teach, not to shoot. Instead of arming teachers with more gun, supply us with materials & resources we desperately need. From 1:1 devices to #2 pencils. From mental health care to healthy nutrition. #ArmMeWith #DeafEd pic.twitter.com/evR6ufuBw6
— Darren (@DarrenHause) February 23, 2018
I AM A TEACHER. NOT A POLICE OFFICER, NOT A SOLIDER, NOT A BODY GUARD. I would risk my life to save my students but I would never keep a concealed gun in my classroom, nor use it EVER. #ArmMeWith TISSUE & PAPER TOWELS. that’s all, Please & Thank you.
— Bri (@Briiilea) February 23, 2018