Why You Wouldn’t Want to Arm Me

I like bandages.  They help with the healing process.  A bandage is a quick and simple solution that isn’t necessarily the answer to every ailment.  Sometimes, they just aren’t enough.

Two days ago, I shared, on this blog,  a list of news stories that populated my news reader that morning in the Education category on Zite.  There definitely was a theme that ran through them.

Now, my experiences with guns hasn’t been one that would make me agree with these ideas.

  • As a child, I was with a friend who shot a bird with a BB gun.  It wasn’t the best of shots and the bird didn’t die immediately.  I was just in disgust with the whole thing and my friend and I ended up in a big fight;
  • Just as I was moving from Grade 8 to Grade 9, part of the program was Cadets.  As 13 year olds would do, we talked about the transition to the big school and this in particular.  I felt in the minority as the only one who’d never shot a gun before.  I was so nervous about the move and relieved when the program was revised dropping the requirement;
  • One summer, I worked as second hand on a farm.  Apparently, a big expense to a beef farmer happens when a cattlebeast steps in a groundhog hole and breaks a leg.  So, it was just part of the deal to have a rifle on hand to try to rid the field of groundhogs.  The first hand spotted a nice big groundhog and we assumed a prone position and I was lining the “dirtpig” up in the gunsights.  I was the laughing stock for days when it turned out that I didn’t know how to turn the safety off and the big one got away.

I’m not exactly one to be afraid of.  I don’t begrudge people who shoot competitively or there are some who hunt for sport and food.  There are and should be strict laws about the care of their equipment.  It’s just not for me.

After reading the articles above, with statements from people who had the best intention of applying bandages to the wound, I realized that I would never be able to work in an educational system like that.

  • I’m the type of person that would wear a sports jacket to work and take it off immediately.  I would take my wallet out and leave it in my desk.  I don’t like anything binding me more than possible.  I can’t imagine wearing a sidearm while teaching;
  • OK, then how about a rifle mounted on a rack on a classroom wall?  That might work if you’re in the same classroom every day.  My reality was that I was in multiple rooms.
  • Then I might wear a holster?  I think of the Lone Ranger or the movies where the holster is under the arm.  Being the klutz that I am, I’d probably shoot myself in the foot.
  • At Teachers’ College, my friend Rob and I won the award for top marks in the Computer Science teachable but it certainly wasn’t 100%.  I can’t imagine that things would be safer with less than perfect skills.  And how about the others in the class with lesser abilities?  How would I fare if I had to learn how to shoot a gun?
  • I am forgetful.  There’s many a night that I would return to school because I forgot to bring home marking or materials for lesson preparation.  Or, I couldn’t remember if I’d turned off the computer for the weekend.  Or a myriad of other reasons.  There’s just so much going on in a teacher’s mind.  Would I leave my gun in my desk at times?
  • After school, it was immediately out to either the football practice field or on to a bus to a game.  Where do I store my gun while I’m doing this?
  • Or even worse, when the kids were very young, I would have to pick them up at child care. ’nuff said
  • I’d be a rich man today if I wasn’t forever losing things.  Lost and out of pocket for things like chalk chucks, overhead markets, media storage, …  What else could I lose?
  • Before you even get a job, though, you need to be qualified to teach.  Would that mean that guns would be a compulsory subject for pre-service teachers?
  • How about the experienced teachers?  Would professional development days be devoted to refining one’s shooting skills?  There isn’t enough time for subject specific professional learning as is.
  • I suppose those who would like to remove teachers would now have a quantifiable test for this one ability.  Test their aim and get rid of those like me who would be lousy shots.

Obviously, some of the above was written with tongue in cheek.  Teachers may be a lot of things to society but hard core law enforcement?  I could certainly see extended homeroom time with activities to identify the needs and personalities of the students in your home room with referrals to a student service if you are concerned about a particular student.

It’s with this mind set that I just can’t imagine a scenario where teachers are armed.  It sure wouldn’t be for me.

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be the direction in Ontario schools.  Such a quick action is just like applying an expensive bandage to a wound and hoping that it heals.  I just can’t see it at all.

And yet, there is a need to make schools safer.  I like the approach that the Premier announced this week.  A locked door policy forces visitors to the school to a single location where they would have to identify themselves and be buzzed in.  Is this a perfect solution?  No, and from the reports of the past week, it wouldn’t have been the complete answer in Newtown.  It is, however, a good start and would be effective in many scenarios.  Credit has to be given for a quick and decisive move on this.  Hopefully, the thinking doesn’t stop there.  What other things need to be done to make schools safer?

A long term, effective solution needs to be sought.  Just a quick fix bandage won’t do it.

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4 Comments

  1. My experience is very different from yours. I grew up in a house with guns. Shooting a .22 at summer camp was the most fun I had the whole time I was there. My father who was required to be in some very dangerous parts of NYC at all hours of the night as part of his Fire Department responsibilities once chased away would be muggers just by lifting his turnout coat to show his revolver. He’s not the only person I know who had that experience. My son was taught firearm safety from a very early age and father/son shooting outings were a fun part of his growing up. I’m comfortable around firearms. I have a permit to carry concealed which I got almost entirely to avoid scaring people because I know that many are not comfortable with them.

    My son is an elementary school assistant principal these days. His wife is a first grade teacher who shares a first name with one of the teachers who was killed a week ago. I thought of them and their safety immediately on that day. I really wanted to drive to my son’s school and give him a firearm so he could use it to protect his students. But owning a firearm means that you have to think and think hard about anything you do with one. I realized that school shootings are very rare and that assuming the worst would be an over reaction. Bringing a firearm to school would not be good for my freedom or his career given current laws. And that knowledge left me feeling quite helpless.

    I don’t think teachers or administrators should be forced or even asked to carry firearms. I do wish that they had the option to do so.

  2. Pingback: Some teachers don’t want to bear arms, but let’s welcome the help from those who do « Trutherator's Weblog

  3. Pingback: Making Things Worse « doug – off the record

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