The objections I’m hearing to the prospect of classroom teachers and professors carrying a concealed weapon all appear to me to cluster somewhere between the ludicrous and the insulting, with substantial overlap into the insane.
I am assuming for the purposes of this post that the sources of objection are sincere. That’s a careless assumption, in many specific cases. Whether you want to believe it or not, the endgame for political insiders who stake out the “gun-free campus” position is usually the confiscation of all privately owned firearms. No one seems to recall a speech that candidate Obama gave in summer of ’08 wherein he voiced a yearning for a national police force. Leftist ideologies often let their admiration for Castro and Ché come spilling out, and sometimes even show their love of Mao. A police state where mere ownership of a purse-sized revolver can get you ten years in the Re-education Camp… that’s what makes them salivate. Then, of course, they will be able to construct their human ant farm without any reactionary troglodytes mounting a resistance.
But let’s put those Men Who Would Be God—those Hitler hearts wrapped in a Stalin hide—to one side. Let’s stipulate that certain well-meaning people really do cringe at the notion of teachers bearing arms. What are their objections?
That people who abhor guns would be forced to carry them. Perfectly idiotic. Nobody has proposed that teachers be forced into arming themselves. Nobody ever would so propose, with the exception of a malign spirit who wanted to churn up protests with false premises. We’re imagining here that the position’s opponents speak in good faith.
That teachers would accidentally shoot innocent bystanders or themselves due to ineptitude. Obviously, anyone who carries a gun should be trained in its use. We don’t let people drive cars without training, either. But say, in an extravagant scenario, that some panicking school marm starting squeezing off rounds wildly at the rafters: this in itself would be a distraction and a deterrent to the assailant. Might a bystander be hit by mistake? Well, that’s true even if Green Berets are charging the shooter. Should we let him fire at his ease just because return-fire runs the risk of going astray?
That teachers would become premier targets if the assailant knew some of them to be armed. Oh, no—we teachers certainly don’t want that! Let the bastard shoot some of our kids before he turns to us: maybe help will arrive in the meantime!
That teachers will create a frightening atmosphere for students if they’re packing. Again, no one has suggested that educators have a Glock holstered beside their cell phone in some kind of tool belt, and no one who wasn’t trying to pull the debate off track would ever make such an inane suggestion. Yet the serious proponents of this objection (and, incredibly, there seem to be many) apparently believe that an armed teacher would have a different look in his eye, or that fear of their teacher’s possibly being armed would make students quail at their desks. Great point. Let’s leave the darlings undefended, instead, and not even whisper the word “gun”. If we stop our ears, shut our eyes, and loudly repeat “nah-nah-nah” incessantly, then everything is sure to be fine.
That teachers will in fact develop a more threatening attitude if the power of life and death hides somewhere on their person. Insanity and offensiveness meet here in equal measure. God Almighty! If this is what you think of your child’s teachers, how can you allow toxic chemicals in chemistry class? Why do you allow a coach to drive the team bus? Do you suppose that teachers stand back and bet on the winner when two students are fighting in the hallway? And if this is your estimate of human nature, why in heaven’s name do you want to surrender all such deadly force into the hands of elite government entities whose members’ heads are already swollen to the bursting point with power?
I hear nobody proposing my own objection: that weapons are very hard to conceal except under a trouser leg, and that some roughneck punk could easily learn to spot the bulge and disarm the math teacher bent over another student’s desk—all just on a stupid lark. I’d like to see weapons issued that would not fire unless they read the legal owner’s palm print on their handle. An alternative, someday, might be to have the corridors roved by a robot that would deploy immobilizing force upon detecting an elevated heat signature and powder traces—or maybe similar technology built into the ceilings like the sprinkler system.
Even so futuristic a solution, however, would have multiple vulnerabilities. (What defense do you have in parking lots and on playgrounds? What if a police officer is detected while returning fire?) I have to believe that the ultimate sincere objection to an armed educational staff is a neurotic, denying fear of harsh realities—the ostrich’s proverbial head-in-the-sand reaction. It is painful to see so many adults in positions of authority exhibiting such childish (and, frankly, craven) behavior. Even if their persistent denials were not costing us children’s lives, they would still inspire a sickened response in the pit of any sane, responsible adult’s stomach. Blunt paralysis in the face of danger is deeply discouraging.