Among the consequences of the recent school shootings, the NRA-sponsored idea that schoolteachers should be armed with guns strikes me as strange. The fact that some school districts and some teachers (one state–Ohio) are taking it seriously is even stranger.
In the last thirty years, public education has been attacked from both the left and the right for a variety of reasons, some good, some not. This latest attack has subtlety and elegance. Ostensibly, the NRA is showing concern for the safety of schoolchildren. In reality, it is proposing to turn teachers into armed enforcers, and our school buildings into low-rent prisons. How many assault rifles do we need this year in our elementary schools? Right. Double that number for the higher grades. Quite a lot of gun-sales there, and for those teachers too delicate-minded to tote an M16 into the first-grade classroom, how about concealed weapons? More sales. And all those teachers will need Kevlar vests. The possibilities for profit are endless.
Now, take it a step farther. How should we choose our teachers? For their knowledge of geography and reading and mathematics? For their empathy? For their piety? For their charm and wit? Irrelevant. First of all, we need veterans’ preference, especially combat veterans’ preference. Beyond that, the crucial test must be marksmanship. That takes Training and Desire. Get rid of the wimps, if they aren’t already lining up elsewhere to flip hamburgers or mix lattes, and whip the rest into shape quick. This is a national emergency. For a modest fee, I’m sure the NRA (or Blackwater) would contract to set up training sessions for teachers in gymnasiums across the county. As an incentive, tie teachers’ pay to their ability to hit that child-shaped target.
In the recent shooting in Taft, California, the shooter was a child who had apparently been bullied. He brought a shotgun into the school, went into his classroom, and shot one of the students he thought was picking on him. At that point, the teacher began a dialog with him, ultimately talking him into surrendering his weapon. The teacher is a hero, no question, but what would have happened if that teacher had been armed? Go ahead, imagine it, fiction writers. In every scenario I can come up with, the results would have been worse. When the shooter came into the room, the class was already in session, students and teacher absorbed in schoolwork. The most likely case is that the armed student would have shot the teacher as he reached for his gun and gone on to shoot his intended victims and, quite likely, himself. As it is, the students in that classroom have a trauma to live down, but they also have an example of courage and clear-minded heroism, and of the importance of talking and listening to people who need help. Both the teacher and the student who did the shooting are alive and able to talk and learn.
That is my thought for the day. And also for the New Year.