The latest Madville Times poll asked you, dear readers, a very straightforward and personal question: Do you want me to carry a gun in my classroom? Your responses:
- Yes: 83 votes, 41%
- No: 118 votes, 59%
- Total votes: 201
I take no insult at 59% of you indicating you don't want me wielding a firearm in front of my students. I am relieved: if you wanted an armed teacher, I'd have to tell you that I'm not the right teacher for your school district. I choose to teach like Gandhi, King, and Jesus, not Wayne, Willis, Schwarzenegger. I reject the call to "Arm the teachers, in the meantime bulletproof the kids," because such a cry is based on a desire to sell product, not educate children:
Studies have shown that highly visible efforts to increase school safety, such as cameras and armed guards, decrease students’ feelings of security, said Eric Rossen, a clinical psychologist and administrator at the National Association of School Psychologists. That’s another risk with bulletproof backpacks, he said. Children who don’t feel safe also don’t feel connected or understood, ultimately undermining their ability to learn and to form trusting relationships, he said [Caitlin Dewey, "Since Newtown School Shootings, Sales of Kids’ Bulletproof Backpacks Soar," Washington Post, 2012.12.20].
Folks who want me to carry a gun in my classroom are asking me to gamble on the "payoff" of the one-in-a-million event of an armed attack on my classroom at the cost of the daily psychic damage of the gun on my hip saying to kids, "We're not safe. Be afraid." I don't gamble in general, because I understand that the house always wins, but at least in Deadwood, there's some entertainment value in gambling.
Some of my correspondents have responded that no price is too high to pay to save a child's life. But that thinking appears to apply only in limited situations. There is more risk that our children will die in car accidents, but we pile them into cars all the time for such trivial purposes as going to Wal-Mart for cheap plastic trinkets. And I'd be interested in cross-polling the folks who want me to carry a gun in the classroom who scream and holler at the safety precaution of legal restrictions on using a cell phone while driving. I get the distinct impression that calls for guns in the classroom aren't based on a desperate desire to protect children's safety at all costs. They seem based on a desire to turn schools, one of the most peaceful places in the community, into an affirmation of gun worship.
If Rep. Betty Olson and Rep. Scott Craig toss their "arm the teachers" bills in the hopper, I will go to Pierre. I will testify before committee with my usual enthusiasm and exaggerated hand gestures. The staid members of the committee will watch my spectacle, think, "We want to put guns in this guy's hands?" and quickly kill those bills... as well they ought.
I'll do my part to keep guns out of our schools. Legislators, help me out. Let teachers be symbols of peace and civil society, not fear and isolation.
Bonus Holiday Guns Reading!
- "Eighty-five Americans are shot dead every day. Of those 53 — or 62 percent — are suicides" ["The Person You're Most Likely to Kill with Your Gun Is You," The National Memo, 2012.12.19].
- "In the case of battered women, lethal assaults were 2.7 times more likely to occur if a gun was present in the house; no protective effect of the gun was found" [John Timmer, "Guns at Home More Likely to Be Used Stupidly Than in Self-Defense," Ars Technica, 2011.04.27].
- Governor Dennis Daugaard is surely watching this one: Colt Manufacturing is threatening to leave Connecticut if the state passes a bill requiring gunmakers to "microstamp" guns to make them easier to trace. I love the smell of gunpowder and economic development in the morning.
- Remember: The National Rifle Association isn't lobbying for public safety. It's main goal, like that of any lobbying group, is to increase sales and profits for the industry it represents.
- Don't forget: Columbine High School had a uniformed, armed policeman on campus on April 20, 1999. Another deputy was in the neighborhood and reported to the school within minutes of the first call of trouble at Columbine. Both officers fired at one of the gunmen; both missed. The murderers went on to kill 12 students and 1 teacher and wound 21 other students.