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21 December 2012 @ 07:14 pm
[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.
keerawakeerawa on December 22nd, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
As a public school teacher who actually does own a gun and put in a tremendous amount of time learning to shoot competently as a hobby, and would NEVER bring one into a school building unless it were a requirement to keep my job - I applaud you.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! For the support, yes, but most of all for being a public school teacher. It's a rough job, and I'm grateful to you for doing it.

I just keep wondering where the folks suggesting this went to school. Do they remember school? I do, and I just can't picture how guns could make it anything but a disaster.
tesserae_ on December 22nd, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
Well, you know, if you're going to use logic...
i teach sunday school, motherfucker.: I don't need to study! by dropsofsunshinrandomeliza on December 22nd, 2012 04:00 am (UTC)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 05:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on December 22nd, 2012 06:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
lamardeuse: Arthur - wtfflamardeuse on December 22nd, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
My partner is a retired teacher who owns guns (in Canada), and he thinks these proposals by the NRA and other gun groups are absolutely fucking nuts. I hope this announcement today leads to such outrage that they're completely discredited.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
ME TOO. Oh please oh please oh please. I just - the NRA is so clearly frothingly rabid, and they need to have NO POWER. (Although, to be clear, this was responding to this post, because this dude doesn't seem to be nuts, just - light on citations and absolutely out of touch with human beings.)
X-parrot: karkat omg yikesxparrot on December 22nd, 2012 04:20 am (UTC)
...Not to mention, if the teacher is armed, then in the case of many school shootings, students are still going to get shot. It will be the students holding the guns, so not "innocent" - but they're still kids, a lot of times, and no matter how fucked up kids they are...I really don't think gunning down anyone is the answer here.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 05:59 am (UTC)
Yeah. I want to subtract guns from these bad situations, not pretend that there's a magic number of guns (approaching infinite guns?) where the guns suddenly all become safe.

And, you're right, I totally forgot to mention that older kids will take the guns to fire them at other students. Ugh.
melodyunity on December 22nd, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
*boggles* Is this an actual, serious idea people are proposing? I...really? In what universe would that possibly be a good idea? I am a teacher, and, let me tell you, giving me or my colleagues guns to bring to school would not make anyone safer. Just...no.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:05 am (UTC)
Yup. Apparently in that dude's head all that stands between you and basically being Rambo is that pesky law preventing you from bringing a gun to school. (And wouldn't you feel safer if your colleagues all had guns, too?)
(no subject) - fenris_wolf0 on December 22nd, 2012 09:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Kink That Winked: 2pac-headrestkinkthatwinked on December 22nd, 2012 04:28 am (UTC)
I don't even want to think about how many more teenaged students would make damned sure they were armed before going to school, if they knew the teachers were packing. Or the parents who might even encourage it, believing they're helping to keep their baby "safe."

Talk about going from bad to worse ...
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
Yeah. Like, I guess the gun fanatics would love to see a world where every single person carried a gun from the age of four on up? (Although actually I don't think that at all; since most gun fanatics seem to be mildly paranoid white men with weird fantasies, I think if they were surrounded by armed people of color they'd flip the fuck out.) But, fuck, I remember being a teenager. I remember the teenagers around me. So I know that's absolutely stupid.
Merlin Missy: Damaged Goods (Tala)mtgat on December 22nd, 2012 04:30 am (UTC)
And is it going to be mandatory for all teachers? Just the ones in the public schools? All my teachers were nuns. So, not only bad attitudes and nervous breakdowns in front of the class, but they absolutely would not shoot guns. Ever.

As for the rest, yes, this, exactly. Ye gods and little fishies, I'm picturing my son's special ed classroom with armed teachers, and NO. There is no good outcome with this. Edit: I had plenty of good teachers, and I know plenty of good people who are teachers now, but we all knew the stories of the teachers who were abusive. I don't even want to think about the outcome when you know that teacher looking down your top and making comments about your boobs has a gun. Erg.

Edited at 2012-12-22 04:33 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:22 am (UTC)
I wondered that, too. My son goes to a Jewish preschool. Guns would not fit in with their philosophy. At all. I cannot imagine most of the teaching staff being willing to TOUCH a gun. (And I keep picturing the teachers I know at the school, trying to imagine hipster Mr. Julian or everyone's grandma Ms. Rosique or cool aunt Ms. Carro or chill Mr. Ledford armed with a gun. I just can't see it. At all. They spend their days toting around toddlers and playing on the floor with them and covering them with shaving foam; where's the place where the gun goes?)

I don't even want to think about the outcome when you know that teacher looking down your top and making comments about your boobs has a gun.

Yeah. How much more power do we give to a teacher who does want to hurt his students if we arm him? TERRIFYING.
(Deleted comment)
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on December 22nd, 2012 05:21 am (UTC)
I don't think armed security guards are a bad idea, but I do think they're an inferior idea. That is, ideas which involve adding more guns are inferior to those which involve removing guns. In practice, "removing guns" really means "making guns less easily available and lethal."

Columbine had an armed security guard. He got in a brief shoot-out with one of the murderers, but was outgunned and did not actually help the situation. Armed guards sound good and are certainly 100% better than armed teachers, but don't seem notably useful in preventing violence.

A number of shootings occur at places which do have armed guards. The basic problem is that the guards can't be in all areas at once. If you want complete coverage, you don't have one guard per school, you have one guard per room. This is not remotely practical.

I also wonder where the hell the money is going to come from to hire armed guards for every school. In LA, some schools don't have books. School shootings are horrific, but rare. Kids failing to learn anything in school due to lack of funding for basic supplies is common. Given limited funds, I'd rather budget more for preventing the latter than the former.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - melannen on December 22nd, 2012 06:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lost_erizo on December 22nd, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
nerthusnerthus on December 22nd, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
I teach prek, 4 and 5 year olds, and I have 25 kids in my class; it is utterly ridiculous to even contemplate having a gun in my room. The points you made about the curiosity of 4 year olds and how teachers are in close contact with them all day is spot on; I have more than one child in my room who cannot keep their hands off anything they find interesting; even when told repeatedly not to touch something, they just can't help themselves or resist just ONE little touch, just that one bit of curious investigation. I wear loose, comfortable clothes with a smock; the two fairly large pockets on the front of my smock are reserved for kleenexes, crayons, band-aids for small 'ouchies,' any loose hair clips or scrunchies or bows the little girls lose or want me to hold onto so they don't lose them on the playground...of course I keep happy face and other fun kinds of reward stickers in my pockets, maybe a hot wheel car or lego or small rubber t-rex some mischievous child slipped into my pocket when I was distracted by some other child hanging on me needing a hug or a shoe tied or a nose blowed. I have no room in my smock pockets for guns, and if I did have one in there, any one of the 25 kids in my room could reach in at any time and find it. How am I to safely hug a child good morning or hug one who is crying over a skinned knee or their mother going to work and leaving them or hold a sick, feverish year old on my lap while packing heat in my pockets? And I'm sorry, but I AM busy also TEACHING all day; we have busy centers with children building with blocks, playing with dinosaurs or baby dolls or doing art or learning letters and numbers and how to write their names at my 'academics' table; if someone burst into our room, how would I have time to jump up, race across the room to the wall of cabinets holding all our supplies and get a gun from one of the cabinets? (I have no lockable teacher's desk in my room, only 4 kid-sized tables and 27 kid-sized chairs and two teacher size chairs, several big,colorful floor rugs and some open-fronted cubbies for the kids' things. When not sitting at the 'academics' table with groups of 3 children at a time for learning time, I am busy moving all over that room and don't sit at a desk where I can quickly grab a gun. And if someone did come into my room with evil intentions, I'm sure the shock of it would immobilize me at first, then I'd just instinctively spend whatever was left of my life feverishly trying to grab and guard with my body as many little bodies as I could, just as those poor Ct children's teacher did. For all the reasons you listed in your post, teachers keeping guns in classrooms is a completely untenable proposition; instead of making excuses for WHY these horrible tragedies occur, we need to revamp and restructure our gun laws and stop romanticizing and lionizing the rampant gun culture in this country. And I don't believe ANY regular citizen should be able to buy an automatic weapon that can shoot 30 freaking rounds at one go; how totally irresponsible and unnecessary is that?!
nerthusnerthus on December 22nd, 2012 05:37 am (UTC)
Ugh, and I call myself a teacher! Sorry for the typos, it's late and I'm wiped and sick to boot. Anyway, that should have read 'noses BLOWN', not blowed, ha, and I left out the '4' when I meant to type feverish '4' year old on my lap, not YEAR old, ha (THOSE little sweet ones are still in the nursery, not in MY class!!)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
dokhte bandar naze ballah!khoshgeleh_16 on December 22nd, 2012 06:38 am (UTC)
This is my number one issue with gun "rights" people who insist that there would be no crime at all ever, if only everyone were armed to the teeth: I DO NOT WANT TO USE A GUN. There are about a dozen guns in my house currently, and they are under serious lock and key (and disassembled, too), and I have held them, and even fired some of them, because my father wanted me to learn.

But I don't want to be armed. Carrying a gun - being in the mere presence of a gun - doesn't make me feel safer. It doesn't make me feel anything but gut-churning fear, because one wrong move - dropping it, jostling it, anything - can do serious damage to yourself or someone else. And virtually no one has the reflexes and aim that you see on TV cop dramas. The NRA's argument that bad guns are only cancelled out by good guns (... that's a paraphrase, but you know, close enough) is absolute bollocks because there is no such thing as a good gun. Guns are for killing. People may occasionally deign to use them for "sport" and target shooting, but their singular purpose is to kill things. And I have no interest in carrying volatile instruments of death on my person, ever.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV umbrellathefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
This is my number one issue with gun "rights" people who insist that there would be no crime at all ever, if only everyone were armed to the teeth: I DO NOT WANT TO USE A GUN.

Yup yup. What those people are really describing is an anarchist dystopia where the survivors are the people who pull the trigger first. And I don't want that dystopia in part because it would be an absolutely terrible place to live and is totally against everything I believe humans should try to be, but also because I wouldn't be available to live there. I'd be dead. I don't want to kill anyone, I don't want to shoot anyone, I don't want to have a gun, and so I wouldn't be one of those who pulled the trigger first. (Would I shoot to defend my kid? Absolutely. But I still don't want the kind of world where that would be necessary.)
(no subject) - lizzy_someone on December 22nd, 2012 09:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
lacking in glittertawg on December 22nd, 2012 06:51 am (UTC)
Not a teacher at all, but I fired a gun for the first time a few months ago, and you are so VERY right about the problems that come with the idea of training teachers to use guns, and to be good at them. I can now put a clip in (probably), and pull the trigger (but I only know how to fire with two hands and I can't remember the difference between holding a revolver and a semi-automatic any more). But, um, guns are loud. My aim is shocking because I close my eyes in the split second before I pull the trigger because guns are loud and scary. And this was in a firing range, shooting at a paper target. This idea that you can just train people to be gun-competent and gun-skilled... It's just so out of touch.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on December 22nd, 2012 07:19 am (UTC)
I'm not sure why gun fanatics are so sure this is a skill everyone can be taught to be equally good at (unless they really are hoping to bring about an anarchist dystopia, where they will have more power because they're better with guns than the rest of us). There really aren't any skills that are equally accessible to everyone. And if everyone has to be good with guns for anyone to be safe from them, then that right there is all the argument I need to control the hell out of them.
(no subject) - tawg on December 22nd, 2012 07:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tesserae_ on December 22nd, 2012 08:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lost_erizo on December 22nd, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on December 22nd, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
Thank you for articulating what I was feeling.
Not your everyday Viking angel: Excused from Saving Universesshadowvalkyrie on December 22nd, 2012 08:40 am (UTC)
The very idea is insane. What this would teach kids, most of all, is that having guns around at all times is perfectly normal, when it's really not. Hell, there are countries where not even law enforcement regularly carry guns and the NRA want to arm teachers? The very people who are supposed to raise the next generation into being civil, civic-minded citizens who will uphold public peace and order on their own volition? And did anyone stop to think for a moment what teachers literally having the power over life and death, rather than just grades, will do to the psyches of both teachers and pupils? There is a veritable abyss of shit just waiting to backfire horribly!
that_which: stumpthat_which on December 22nd, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy our sensible centrist brave new world, when I get a glimpse of it through the ether it floats in.

Our teachers should be low bid employees with no job protections just like the people who search you at the airport. They should teach our children precisely what the consultants from the large media organizations who built NCLB to enrich themselves tell them to teach, because those people got their jobs by knowing all about children and are all deeply committed to the survival of public education.

Then we should lock those brave new teachers in overcrowded rooms full of overstimulated kids, most of whom don't get regular physical activity during school hours any more, and we should give them guns.

It takes a special kind of mind to trust someone to use their own judgment with deadly force who you refuse to trust with a lesson plan.
winter is coming, so don't stab your sister: ladybug quietceilidh on December 22nd, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
It takes a special kind of mind to trust someone to use their own judgment with deadly force who you refuse to trust with a lesson plan.

This. They believe teachers are stupid enough that we must read from prepared scripts!
etben on December 22nd, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
YES YES YES. I teach high school, not preschool, so I am less huggy with my students - but at the same time, I also teach teenagers, so I would absolutely still have to have my gun in a locked drawer in a different room if I actually wanted to eliminate the chances of a student getting ahold of the gun.

Which is all secondary to the real issue, namely: I don't ever want to fire a gun. It's not something I'm comfortable with on any level! Like, my motor planning is for shit, my hand-eye coordination ain't great either, I would forget my head if it were not so firmly attached to my neck, and most of all, a gun is a thing made primarily for killing people, and I'm just not down with that. Other people have different lines on this, and that's their prerogative - but I will not carry a gun, ever, under any circumstances*, and I'm far from the only teacher to feel that way.

*...except potentially a zombie apocalypse.