Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mrs. Bartow's Packing

My first grade teacher is one of those people whose face I'll always remember.  She was infinitely kind and understanding.  It was her first year teaching, but I knew her from when she was my preschool teacher.  When I began working as a technology integration specialist, she was one of the teachers on staff at my base school.  I have tried, but I can't possibly imagine Mrs. Bartow packing heat in the classroom.

In keeping with the ludicrous arguments that have defined the most ardent supporters of the 2nd amendment, many have suggested in the wake of the most recent mass shooting that fixing the problem would be best accomplished if we had even more guns.  Specifically, if teachers had guns.  Teachers like Mrs. Bartow.

Sometimes, adding more of what is causing the problem works.  When fighting forest fires, for example, it is fairly common to light a fire intentionally in the path of the fire to burn up what would be fuel.  Putting guns in school is so far from logic that it's difficult to understand how a thinking person who is elected by popular votes could even utter the words without fear of being the butt of jokes and the victims of a recall election.

Most schools across the country aren't even allowed to physically restrain an intruder for insurance purposes, and you're telling me that there are legislators who think teachers should shoot them?  We can't escort an angry, abusive parent from the premises, but we can shoot someone in the head if they are aggressive?  Big shift.  If we're talking big shifts in policy and practice, why don't we start by paying teachers for the job they already do before adding the requirement that they be trained as a Navy SEAL.  

Most kids don't want to be at school.  We require them by law to go, and there are a lot of unhappy people in any given school building at any given time.  We have every student, regardless of their needs, in public education.  We have the ones who are excited to learn, and we have the ones who throw chairs at their teachers and threaten to kill them every day.  You think it's a good idea to introduce guns into that situation?  You think that there will be less violence in school when there is a sudden possibility for accidents that didn't exist before?  You think that by having more guns around the possibility for someone to use one of them in the heat of the moment doesn't increase?  You don't think a student would ever get their hands on one?

Aside from all of the obvious flaws in judgement with such a ridiculous proposal, let's consider the people who commit these crimes for a moment:  they are mentally unstable and are carrying multiple high capacity weapons with lots of ammunition.  Do you really think a handgun wielded by a 120 pound secretary is going to deter them?  In this most recent case, the only person who had guns and the ability to defend herself was the first to die.  The availability of loaded guns didn't help her.  Neither did her training.  Nor did her familiarity with the shooter.

There are no laws, policies, procedures, or practices that will end this type of violence.  The only thing that would prevent future tragedies is to have a society that values, above all else, human life and a commitment to treat one another with respect and dignity.  Violence needs to become a way of the past.  That isn't the message being sent when the teachers carry weapons.

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