tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

[Rant] So You Want to Arm the Teachers

My son is in preschool right now. Since Newtown, I've been staring at his school, at his building, at his classmates, and thinking of all those kids who are dead now. I don't think any parent can help that.

And, hey, I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop that from happening again. Suggestions I've heard from gun control proponents: Reduce gun access, reduce rate of fire, increase waiting periods, make smart guns (with biometric chips to prevent firing by someone other than owner) mandatory.

Suggestion I've heard again and again from gun fanatics: Arm teachers. When every teacher has a gun, every child will be safe.

Gun fanatics, guys, can we talk about this? I like that you're trying, I like that you've acknowledged we have a terrible problem and we need to solve it now. But I don't think your solution is going to work. I keep running through it in my mind and hitting walls.

First, if we arm the teachers - well, it's not enough to arm them, right? (Although I tell you what: as a parent and taxpayer, I really am not thrilled with the idea that my school taxes will be going on guns instead of books. And please tell me you don't expect the teachers to buy their own guns.) You also have to train them. And this isn't a situation where you'll be training someone who wants to learn - most of these people will be afraid of guns, unwilling to fire them, unwilling to learn, because guess what: people who want to fire guns go into the military or law enforcement or gun shop ownership or whatever. They don't become teachers. I mean, sure, there are some teachers who like guns and are good with them, but it's not going to be the majority by any means. Most of them are going to be like me. I am sure you could teach me to safely own, handle, and fire a gun. I'm also sure that it would take a lot of work on your part, because I have limited dexterity, I don't have good aim, I (like many people) tend to freeze and shut down when I'm scared, and most of all: I don't want to learn to shoot a gun. I mean, most teachers will be like me unless you prioritize the ability to use firearms over the ability to, say, teach reading.

And these people can't just be trained a little. They have to be good enough to make a targeted shot when they're terrified (and remember: a lot of them, like me, will be prone to shutting down or freezing in an emergency; that is a human thing that happens), in a classroom where any miss means they may become the child-murderer. They have to be good enough to know when to fire. They have to be good enough to know when not to fire. Even police officers aren't always that good (links to many, many cases available as necessary), and police officers go into their careers expecting to learn to fire guns.

In other words, you're talking about adding a whole lot of training. For every teacher in every classroom in the country. Even though some states are so desperate for (cheap) teachers they've cut requirements and allow teachers to get certified for teaching over time as they're teaching. But the gun training - to be safe with a gun, to be useful with a gun, you have to know all this stuff before you step into the classroom. So you're proposing we prioritize educating teachers about guns over educating teachers about teaching.

Now. Let's say you get your wish. We no longer have teachers. We have a vaguely-educated militia heading up our nation's classrooms. Wow, I really hope no teacher ever loses it. And I say this as someone who once watched her teacher have a nervous breakdown. We sat frozen in our seats, twenty-two fourteen-year-old targets, as he yelled, wept, and threw things at us - pencils, chalk, a mug, books. Despite the noise and the open door, it took twenty minutes for someone to come help us. If he'd had access to a gun, boy, that would have gone a lot better, right?

No. I'd be dead.

And, hey, let's hope no teacher who has been trained to respond to threats by shooting them, trained to shoot instantly and well, ever feels threatened by a student at all. Or wants power over a student at all.

Or are you saying you're okay with that kind of collateral damage? With kids at risk from their teachers if the teachers are having a bad day or a bad time? Because to me this sounds like a recipe for more dead kids, not fewer. And what I want is no dead kids.

I don't know how to solve that one, but let's assume you do. (Spoiler: You won't.) Now we have our teachers, and they're trained, and they're armed, and they're ready and willing to shoot. Where do you keep the guns? If they're safely stored in the classroom - in a locked box, ammunition separate from the gun - then I'm not really clear on how the teacher is going to get to the gun in case of a mass shooting.

And if they're not safely stored, if they're on the teacher - look, have you been to a classroom recently? Not a high school. A preschool. A kindergarten. A first grade classroom. Those teachers have a lot of physical contact with the students. It's inevitable. My son is carried around by his teachers, he sits on their laps, he hugs them. And he's curious. He gets into everything. I can tell you: if you spend a lot of time in physical contact with a small child, that child will investigate your bra, your glasses, your hair, your buttons, the contents of your pockets. The inside of your nose and ears if you have even a moment's distraction. There's no strap or buckle that will keep kids out of anything; you need a lock. With a key in another location. That the kids don't know about. (Yes, of course a four year old can use a lock to open a door and can find a key if he knows where it's kept.) But we just discussed how locks won't work.

So how do we keep these curious, investigating kids away from the guns? Are we back at biometric sensors? Hey, then can we just try the biometric sensors first, see how that works, and then maybe spend a fortune and incur a huge risk to raise our very first teaching army? Seems like the biometric sensors would be easier, cost less, and be faster. Or are you saying that you want the teachers six feet from their students at all times? Because you'll need a fence if you want that. An unclimbable one, let me just mention, as the parent of a climber. (And you'll also need an adult on the other side of the fence, one who isn't armed, because the younger kids don't respond well to teachers under glass. And that adult can't be armed. Wait, we're back to unarmed teachers. WHAT NOW?)

Now let's summarize, proponent of armed teachers. Your vision of our safe, glorious future:
  1. Teachers untrained in teaching.
  2. Who are crack shots with extensive weapons training.
  3. Who are armed.
  4. Who teach from behind Plexiglas walls.
  5. In disintegrating schools (because I can't imagine you're going to approve massive tax increases to pay for all this training and arming of teachers).
  6. With minimal equipment aside from all the guns and ammo (because again).
Holy shit. You've just turned the education system into a giant prison system, incarcerating children as young (in my state) as three. And, let me remind you, unless you think every single teacher, all 7.2 million of them (according to the US Census), is safe and stable and unlikely to snap, you've put the kids at greater risk.

No. No, no, a thousand times no. If this is your plan, if this is the best you can do, then you really, really, REALLY need not to be firing guns, or carrying guns, or in the presence of guns. You are exactly who should not be armed. Because you're fucking dangerous, out of touch with reality, frothing at the mouth rabid.

And I thank you for showing me how to vote. I will absolutely vote to take your guns away.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
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