I’m going to step outside of the mom box this week for a serious post.
As everyone knows, I’m also a teacher. And this past week was rough if you work in a school.
I’ll preface all of what I’m about to say with this: I feel safe in my school. I feel safe with my students. In fact, I’m confident that if there were a threat and one of my students knew about it, they would tell me because my students trust me. (That’s one of the things about running the newspaper–I teach the kids for three to four years, so I become their school mom. They tell me EVERYTHING.) And I don’t have a single student whom I have those kind of concerns about–granted, I teach electives this year, so my kids all chose to be in my class, but I have a great group of kids.
With all of that said, I know that this kind of violence can happen anywhere in today’s world and that no one is safe anymore. And while that was always scary as a teacher, it became even scarier now that I’m a mother, both because I want to be safe to see my son grow up, but also because I’m going to have to send him out into this world.
I try not to get into Facebook fights with the right wing, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, and this was one of those weeks. Because no matter what anyone says, guns are the problem. I know some of you reading this may argue about your rights and self defense and hunting and yada yada yada, but the reality is that no civilian NEEDS a semi-automatic weapon. Weapons weren’t what they are today when the founding fathers wrote the law–not to mention that they also wrote laws saying women couldn’t vote and slavery was legal. There are times when laws need to be modified.
I’m aware that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind with this and that anyone who is vehemently pro-guns has already stopped reading to leave me a nasty comment.
But one of the biggest arguments I’m seeing right now is that arming teachers would prevent this kind of tragedy.
Just yesterday, Trump said, referring to Aaron Feis, whose name he appeared to have forgotten: “If the coach had a firearm in his locker, when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run. He would have shot, and that would have been the end of it.”
As a teacher, let me break down why that won’t work.
Problem #1: I refuse to carry a gun, let alone shoot someone. The day that I’m told that a requirement of teaching English is being willing to kill someone is the day I leave the profession. End of story. And I’m not alone in that. Just because people who own guns are willing to use them does NOT mean that teachers have to be willing to kill someone to do their job. You’re going to find yourself with a serious teaching shortage the second you expect us to also be security and a private police force.
Problem #2: Say I had a gun in school–I’m 5’6 and a size small. While I’m sure I’d be plenty intimidating with my big, bad gun to elementary and maybe middle school students, I’m still 5’6. Most of my male, high school students are bigger than me. Some pretty significantly so. If they wanted to take a gun away from me, whether in trying to be funny or in all seriousness, short of shooting them, I don’t have a way to stop that. Am I supposed to shoot a kid if he or she is joking around and goes for my gun? Because I have at least one student (whom I’ve taught for four years and adore), who is a huge clown and would take it just to show he could, even though he’d never hurt a fly. Should I kill him?
Problem #3: While putting more guns in schools may protect you from grizzlies, as Betsey DeVos so eloquently said, it raises the likelihood of a student being shot accidentally. And even in the event of a mass shooter, you’d have to be a hell of a shot to take out someone who’s firing an AR-15 at you with a handgun. You can train people with guns all you want, but the reality is that a shootout in the halls doesn’t end well for anyone.
But even people who understand that arming teachers isn’t the solution aren’t always seeing that the only thing that can stop mass shootings is gun control.
The Barracuda Defense System barricade is making the rounds on the internet right now and being touted as a way to prevent fatal school shootings. However, this would neither have prevented the situation in Florida, nor would it make a difference in most schools.
First of all, the shooter in Florida pulled the fire alarm, so many of the students and teachers whom he hit were in the halls, not locked in classrooms.
Second, once the code red was announced, the classroom doors were locked. That wasn’t the issue–the issue was that almost all classroom doors everywhere have windows. Those windows are important because they allow people walking by, on normal instructional days, to see what’s going on in a classroom. They prevent illegal activities behind closed doors. They make schools safer–except when someone has a gun. The Parkland shooter, by all accounts, did not enter any classrooms. He fired at students in the hall and then fired through classroom windows. So while that device could be useful if classroom doors no longer had windows, it’s useless otherwise.
Northeast Security Solutions has a great post on the other safety hazards of these, if you’d like to read more.
The one and only thing that will prevent further mass shootings is gun control. Plain and simple.
I want to see my son grow up. I want to see my students grow up and have children of their own. And I think that’s worth revisiting the regulations on guns.