Press "Enter" to skip to content

New Poll: Should Heidelberger Carry a Gun in His Classroom?

I promised myself I would not post on guns today. But I want to put this week's widespread discussion of the roles of guns in schools in a very concrete, personal context. Answer this question:

Do you want me, Cory Allen Heidelberger, to carry a gun in my Spearfish High School French classroom?

I'll take answers through Sunday, after which point I'll post and discuss the results with the three people who check the blogs on Christmas Eve. (Don't worry—the post will still be up for discussion and public record when you get back from wassailing.)

Pastor and Rep.-Elect Scott Craig thinks I should; Sioux Falls police chief Doug Barthel thinks I shouldn't. I invite your thoughts on whether I should teach your children while carrying a firearm.


  1. Vincent Gormley 2012.12.20

    Perish the thought of my high school French teacher packing. He spoke French with an Italian accent, flirted with the girls and there were only 3 boys (2 had dropped it). I would have learned even less no matter how hard I tried. It comes back on occasion but I regret not using it.
    No teacher should carry a gun. Focus on teaching. In my junior high there were two teachers who carried a pointer and a yardstick, and dispensed corporal punishment. Another teacher quit when a student challenged him to meet him after school. A gun would have solved nothing. We did not have security officers back then. There was no need. Teachers kept things in check. Students took their disputes off campus and the police handled it if necessary. Even that was rare.
    Certainly times are different, there were no automatic assault weapons then. They were not in existence when the second amendment was inked on parchment either.

  2. Joan 2012.12.20

    Guns don't belong in class rooms, public parks, and a lot of other places. Assault type guns don't belong anyplace but with the military and law enforcement. Apparently a lot of people that think teachers and school administrators should carry guns in school, haven't stopped to think that the invader is coming in ready to shoot, with the gun all ready to go. Whereas, the teacher, or other school employee will at first be a little shocked and it will take a minute to regroup themselves, and by then the perp will have started shooting. Also if there is crossfire, more people are apt to be killed and/or injured.

  3. Joan 2012.12.20

    By the way when I was in school on the rare occasion that one of the boys drove the family vehicle to school, there was always a gun in the car, so they could do some hunting on the way home. Another thing most of the boys always had a knife of some type on their person. For some it was a pocket knife, some a hunting knife on their belt and a few even had a switch blade.

  4. bob newland 2012.12.20

    "People who have guns use them more often."

    That's what the author of an opinion piece on NPR today said. I have to agree. If nobody had guns, then nobody would shoot anyone. Well, they might use arrows, but is that really "shooting?"

    I don't think the argument is whether we should disarm the world (impractical goal). Lots of people want, naturally, crazy people not to have guns. The best we can do is make it temporarily inconvenient for some crazy people to obtain a weapon. A massive change in federal policy could simply ban gun ownership by anyone; the only legally armed people would be cops and soldiers carrying guns loaned them by the government. Don't look for that big a change between now and 2016. Introduction of a bill like that would cause a big riffle.

    The change we are likely to see is some petty chickenshit thing like 10-round clips instead of 30-round clips. Or no guns with bayonet mounts. When was the last time you heard about someone being bayoneted?

    Whatever change is being planned by the Obama administration in legality of certain firearms or accessories thereto will have zero effect on the next crazy bastard who decides to invade a school because the government has been kind enough to cluster a few hundred unarmed kids and teachers where they can't easily get away from him.

    Assuming that in nearly every school system there are several teachers/staff who would volunteer to do so (not an improbable scenario), a county sheriff can deputize whom he wants. Deputizing volunteers who are inside a schoolhouse while the kids are there would give the deputies the legal right to carry in a gun-free zone (just like the school liaison cop in every school in Rapid City).

    Assuming a would-be school shooter pays any attention to cost/benefit issues, one benefit undeniable at most schools is that no one in the building is armed. If he does pay attention, he might choose a different target after learning that several of the people inside the school are armed, but nobody knows which ones. If he doesn't pay attention, and chooses a school with armed staff, the carnage will likely be lower than it otherwise would be.

    Any law that attempts to reduce the number of people killed in random group murder attempts by regulating clip capacity or discriminating against guns that "look" like military weapons will have no effect other than cosmetic.

    As for a total gun-ban.... Well, it wouldn't be total; it would exempt people on government payrolls using government-loaned guns. Not even Sarah Brady wants to live in that world.

  5. John 2012.12.20

    Yes; only if:
    The school is more than 2-4 minutes from the law enforcement station (which it is);
    If you are trained, certified, and semi-annually retrained and re-certified on the weapon you carry and it its judicious use in crowed fluid simulations;
    Willing to be shot by the blue cavalry when they inject themselves into an armed, hostile, ill-defined situation;
    You have no substance, health, and physiological issues and average or above average reflexes and mobility as certified to by yourself, supervisor, and a doctor (different doctor each time for a minimum of 5 years);
    Have corrected vision of at least 20/20 or uncorrected vision of a minimum of 20/40;
    Retain at least 80% of your hearing;
    Are well insured ($1 million);
    Give it up or have it taken from you if you ever lose physical control of your weapon, have an "accidental discharge", etc.;
    Can and will kill without reflection (no time for turning the other cheek here);
    Certified and semi-annually re-certified in CPR and first aid;
    Can pass the Army or Marine physical fitness test semi-annually at least at the 85% level in each event (these are age and gender normed so don't sweat the small stuff); and

    Those are a few of the minimum standards that come to mind. It's likely the average teacher is unable to pass more than a couple of these gates. If you think these gates are too high or unachievable then what characteristics would you want in your child's first line of defense? Don't think about the world we ought to have - we don't live in that one, yet.

  6. Dougal 2012.12.20

    Yes. If for no other reason than to hear you say in your best Sean Connery immitation: "Heidelberger ... Corey Heidelberger."

  7. bret clanton 2012.12.20

    John, how many law enforcement officers can pass your stringent test?

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.20

    Bob, what if the shooter plans to commit suicide by cop? Might such a shooter decide its just as easy to commit suicide by teacher?

    Note, Bob, that I'm not asking here if we should outlaw or take away any guns. I'm asking if I should carry a gun in my classroom. No hypothetical here. Real teacher, real classroom.

    And Bob, why rely on volunteers when we want the real safety of trained professionals?

  9. Amber 2012.12.20

    Yes! Carry a gun protect our youth.

  10. Dana P. 2012.12.20

    the short answer is "no", Cory.

    my long answer? (smile) When I say that, it doesn't mean that I don't trust you or any other teacher with a weapon. If you would want one AND you go through the repetitive training AND well....what John said above! Possessing a gun in this country is just too cheap and too easy. A gun needs to be treated with much more respect and MUCH more thought such as criminal history, psychological testing, repetitive training, etc.

    Furthermore, what is the purpose of our schools? and our teachers? What kind of a country/schools do we want if we are looking at passing legislation to "arm" our teachers? What is the point of a school and what are our educators supposed to be doing in the first place? If I really had some type of evidence that armed school officials would be a deterrent or would stop an active shooter - perhaps I would be more open-minded to that idea. Maybe. A BIG maybe. But since, evidence/case history is exactly the opposite, I truly am opposed.

    Our teachers have alot of responsibility. Alot. And we are going to add the extra burden of a gun to their duties? "Hey Cory, don't forget your quarterly range training" Oh, you are busy planning for your class for the next two weeks? well, I know, we are all busy, but if you don't do this, our liability will increase. oh, and I don't like the way you are storing your gun, it should be stored somewhere else." where will it end?

    Sad but true, there will be a school shooting, a mall shooting, a movie theatre shooting, a church shooting in the future. We can't prevent them all - not with over 300 million guns in this country. (ah yes, the good ole gun industry - raking it in) However, just as we did after Sept 11th, perhaps attempting to reduce those chances (otherwise known as problem solving) is a better way to go. And it isn't just the mass shootings we should try to prevent, but how about the daily shootings also?

    Arming teachers is NOT the answer. If that is the lesson that our legislators are learning in all of this, that scares the living ba-jeezus out of me.

  11. Chris 2012.12.20

    Your first reaction in a life or death situation should be to survive using anything that is immediately at your disposal. If you condition yourself to believe that only a gun can defeat a gunman, you may die before you are able to retrieve your gun from it's "secure" location. Maybe we would be better off arming our teachers and students with tactics and mental conditioning than with guns.

  12. Mike Henriksen 2012.12.20

    Yes. I would love to see your "drop, roll, and headshot to an armored assailant at 50 feet away" move.

    But in truth, no. This idea is asinine.

  13. El Rayo X 2012.12.20

    Instead of carrying a gun, teach you students the the following phrases in French: "Go ahead, make my day," "You talkin' to me?" and "Say hello to my little friend." If you must carry, go old school. A blue steel S&W Model 29, no polymer frame techno-wiennie crap, polished leather shoulder holster and mirror lensed aviators covering the eyes. Top it off with a five day beard and a tooth pick dangling from the lip. Lock n' Load and have a Merry Christmas.

  14. bret clanton 2012.12.20

    Cory, being what you are presenting is completely hypothetical with no extenuating circumstances here is my answer. If what is standing between my grandchildren and a mentally impaired gunman is you, yes I want you armed.

  15. JoeBoo 2012.12.20

    I explained this to a friend of mine who I went to college with who is a teacher. He thinks they should be able to carry a gun, I said I don't have a big problem if he had one, or even if I had one, but I can think of at least a half dozen of my classmates who are teachers who I would never want to carry a gun in the classroom.

  16. Les 2012.12.20

    As long as we're being hypothetical Bret, if it is Cory between my grandchild and a US drone, heck no Cory don't waste your breath..
    Those darn details, crocodile tears for twenty but smiles for the collateral of thousands of pretty babies across the pond.
    Mental illness at what level and who really is sane?

  17. Stan Gibilisco 2012.12.20

    My first gut response was "Heck yes." But what a sad way for a country to go. So now, Cory, I really don't know.

    We need to address the issue of gun violence in a holistic way. How can we actually reduce it, without disarming the entire noncriminal population or, conversely, turning the whole country into a great big armed camp?

    I wonder if that monster in Connecticut would have gone into the school and done that business if he had known that all the teachers were armed, and had been trained in the use of their weapons.

    I also wonder what sort of long-term psychological effect it would have on our kids if we raised them and educated them in armed camps. What sorts of adults would they grow up to be?

    Finally, I wonder what went through the mind of this loon (you know, I don't even remember his name, and it's just as well; let's just call him Satan's Spawn) as he entered that school?

    Like, how do these creatures operate, and what made them into what they are?

  18. Bill Fleming 2012.12.20

    "Problems cannot be solved at the same level that created them."

    "Our technology has exceeded our humanity."

    Both quotes - Albert Einstein

  19. mhs 2012.12.21

    Your hidden agenda is showing. You'll no doubt stretch your definition of "classroom" to include the outdoor campuses. This is just the most transparent underhanded backdoor effort conceivable to get to hunt on GFP preserves. We know birds are hard to find West River, but, really?
    Nice try. :)

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.21

    Clever. But just to be clear to my less irony-inclined readers... hidden agenda? No. Anyone who reads this blog should know I'm terrible at hiding my true feelings and intentions. My question is exactly what it is: do you think it is a good idea for this one specific teacher to carry a gun in his specific classroom in front of his specific 100 students?

    Bret, that's not the question. I'm not interested in extenuating circumstances, because I can't entertain your hypothetical. I can't say, "Oh, today's the day a gunman's going to show up, so I'd better come armed to play my role as last line of defense." I want to know if I should carry a gun in my classroom. Period. But I'll take into account your extenuation: given your concern about that possibility, should I prepare myself for that possibility by carrying a gun every day?

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.21

    El Rayo X: the proper movie look for the armed French teacher is Jean Reno.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.21

    DB: I dig the long responses. I'm pleased to see people really thinking through their answers to this straightforward question.

    Stan: I too am very interested in the long-term psychological effects of raising children in an armed camp. And do keep thinking holistically.

    Chris: I hadn't thought of that angle! If I have a split second to decide, do I create more chances for my students to survive with a decision to fight, barricade, or flee?

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.21

    Fred, I'd settle for half a hedge fund manager's salary. That would buy a lot of ammo.

  24. Rorschach 2012.12.21

    I have a short answer (sorry Cory). No you shouldn't pack a gun to school. I think you should wear a beret and carry a holster with a baguette in it. This would both facilitate the French class and signal to any mass shooter that you are not a threat.

  25. bob newland 2012.12.21

    Bob, what if the shooter plans to commit suicide by cop? Might such a shooter decide its just as easy to commit suicide by teacher?

    Newland answers: What if? I say, "Oblige him/her."

    Note, Bob, that I'm not asking here if we should outlaw or take away any guns. I'm asking if I should carry a gun in my classroom. No hypothetical here. Real teacher, real classroom.

    Newland answers: If I were in your situation, I would prefer the option to carry if I wanted to. There is deterrent value in that option. If you don't want to undergo training and carry, there is deterrent value in having the teacher in the next classroom who does want to train and carry.

    And Bob, why rely on volunteers when we want the real safety of trained professionals?

    Newland answers: Volunteers are free. Becoming trained is a matter of becoming trained. Handling and firing a gun is not rocket science, nor is avoidance of being a threat to innocent bystanders.

  26. SuperSweet 2012.12.21

    I support the NRA position of giving schools the option of having an armed guard (School Resource Officer) in every school. No mention in the NRA position of arming teachers.

  27. Douglas Wiken 2012.12.21

    It is just so obvious. The solution to too many guns is more guns. Why can't liberals get the message and stop being so damn shrill.

    Oops, guess I have read too many wingnut letters and posts.

  28. MJL 2012.12.21

    I did my student teaching in a school that had a full time police detective. He was armed to help deal with the violence and fighting that was occurring in the school. If a gunman walked into the school, he might have been able to get there in time, but it was a big school. He did not walk around with body armor and could have easily been taken down by a gunman using an AR-15 rifle. He would have been easily outgunned.

    The school I teach in now has 1 counselor for over 200 students with a mandate that include career counseling, running state required testing programs, and trying to help counsel students in her free time.

    I do not wanted to be packing or have some teacher that thinks he or she is qualified to be packing heat in my school or the school that my children attend.

  29. Joan 2012.12.21

    Also what about the rare teacher that is along the lines of Barney Fife, nervous and a little on the careless side.

  30. John Hess 2012.12.21

    "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," NRA's LaPierre said. What if the bad guy didn't have a gun? From what I've read the UK police still often don't carry guns, but we want our teachers to carry guns? We've asked teachers to wear so many hats and now we want them to be armed security? Beyond comprehension.

  31. Roger Elgersma 2012.12.22

    Saw a real sad commentary by a school kid from Montana who said that their teacher said that her main job was to keep her students safe. And I had thought that her main job was to teach the kids. Well she is teaching them fear and distraction from learning.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.22

    Roger: yes! Resist fear!

    Rohr: I've been trying to find a good beret.

    Bob: So suppose I teach in a school where every teacher and the administration take the position that the mere presence of guns in the school does more harm than good. Are we abdicating a fundamental duty to protect our students? Should we be replaced with more sensible educators who volunteer to take on the expense of training and maintenance and carry weapons in the classroom?

Comments are closed.