When I was about 7 or 8 years old, a good friend of the family had her home robbed in the middle of the night. While she and her husband lay in bed, feigning sleep, two or more men rifled through their closets, drawers and jewelry.
Unbeknownst to these thieves, they had entered a home with multiple guns. The husband was an avid hunter and fisherman and had several rifles throughout the home and a shotgun placed right under the bed.
The only problem? For some reason, the gun was on the wrong side of the bed, resting under her side, not his. Neither of them decided that a daring attempt to protect their home was worth it. In the end, the thieves left with clothing, jewelry, electronics and cash. They were never caught.
The husband died a number of years ago, and I was too young to ask any questions about that night before he did. Still, I found myself wondering what would have happened if the gun had been in the right spot that night.
Would he have reached for it?
Would he have confronted the men?
Would he have been forced to kill them?
Perhaps even more importantly, had all of those things happened, how would that have impacted him?
I thought about this today as memorials to the victims of Sandy Hook took place throughout the country and gun nuts started worming out of their STFU bunkers.
The NRA folks managed to hold their tongues for almost a whole week before Wayne LaPierre took to the stage today and told the world he wanted armed police in every school. It is a miracle, but LaPierre’s take on this wasn’t the stupidest thing I heard this week.
That honor goes to the brain trust suggesting that TEACHERS be armed at the schools.
If the people supporting this position could say anything more idiotic, it would have to be in “Nell” style grunts, because this is the dumbest thing the English language will allow.
In each of the last several major public shootings, the shooters involved were carrying assault weapons. Adam Lanza had a Bushmaster .223, a civilian model of a military-grade assault weapon. James Holmes used a similar weapon (a .223 Smith and Wesson M&P 15) while also carrying a shotgun and two semi-automatic handguns. Klebold and Harris multiple shotguns and assault rifles in Columbine and the two kids who enacted the Jonesboro massacre had 10 guns, three of which were automatic weapons.
In addition, Lanza and Holmes were wearing full body armor.
What, exactly, are we going to be arming our teachers with? A cannon? The Iron Man suit?
Even more, possessing a gun is far more likely to get you killed than NOT possessing a gun. A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that on average, guns did not protect people who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Even more, the study found people WITH guns were 4.5 times MORE LIKELY to be shot than those NOT possessing guns.
(The cynic in me believes that maybe the “arm our teachers” folks know this and figure if the shooter is trying to take out the teacher with the gun, the kids can run for cover.)
This doesn’t even account for people who own guns and have them turned against them. The idea of someone without a gun overpowering someone with a gun and then using that gun against them is not that farfetched.
My mother and many of the women she teaches with are about 5-foot-3 and weigh about a buck 20. Some of the eighth grade GIRLS are almost a foot taller and outweigh those teachers by 70 pounds, to say nothing of the boys. A teacher’s gun being taken away and used for less-protective means isn’t a pipe dream. I’m interested to see what happens when a student absconds with a teacher’s gun and does something horrible.
And then there is the most counterintuitive portion of this: The idea of parents being OK with armed teachers in the school. These are the same parents who piss and moan about teachers who a) overstep their boundaries in pushing an “agenda” with their kids, b) don’t see how brilliant their kids are and fail to give them all A’s for simply breathing, c) should be brought up on charges for “assault” for breathing near their kids in an aggressive manner and d) are completely worthy of scrutiny for EVERY, SINGLE DECISION they make.
Talk to an elementary school teacher or a high school teacher and that educator can regale you with tale after tale after tale of how parents were on them for any perceived slight levied upon their kid. The teachers I know can tell me hours of stories in which parents questioned pretty much every aspect of their competence.
I can’t imagine that these would be the same parents who would say, “Y’know, I’m fine Mrs. Smith locking and loading in the classroom. I’m sure NOTHING bad will happen and she has my complete faith and confidence!”
(And of course, there’s the fear that one of the kids in the classroom decides to pull a gun or a knife and force a teacher to make a lethal decision. Let’s see how much support we get for the “Tech-9’s for Teachers” program.)
Finally and perhaps most importantly, there’s this: If a teacher was presented with a gun, trained in its use, given the green light to “castle doctrine” anyone with a weapon and then presented with a rampaging Lenza-style asshole, then what?
When the time came and the chips were down, could that teacher pull the trigger on a person and take the life of another human being?
This part of the equation is never discussed. It really should be.
So should the concept of “OK, then what?”
Police officers go to work each day, knowing it is likely that a “kill or be killed” scenario will take place. They train for it. They ready themselves for it. They fear it.
When the time comes and they do fire that fatal shot, it often takes months or years for an officer involved in a “righteous shoot” to pull it back together.
Some never do.
What happens when a teacher has to do it? Do they ever recover?
When it happens for a teacher, how will the kids react? Will they ever look at that teacher the same way?
It may be true that we never see a school shooting like Sandy Hook coming until it’s too late. In many cases, it’s a one-in-a-million event.
But if we start placing guns in the schools like this, we will be living under the constant specter of death and mayhem.
At that point, we risk everything .