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First South Dakota School to Consider Using Gunslinger Law: Mitchell Christian

It takes a special kind of parent and a special kind of Christian to want to send a child to a school where the teachers carry firearms.

Christian parents may get the chance to show how (.38) special they are by sending their kids to Mitchell Christian School, which is considering taking advantage of South Dakota's hysterical new school gunslinger law:

Mitchell Christian Superintendent Joseph Fox says he and some members of the school board support the idea of having guns in the school to protect students from intruders.

Mitchell Christian is the only one considering placing so-called sentinels inside its school ["Mitchell Christian School Considers Armed Staff," AP via KELO-TV, 2013.08.25].

I could annoy Reverend Joseph Fox with the empirical evidence that shows South Dakota has had two school shootings in its entire history (Delmont 1961, Britton 2013), neither of which would have been stopped by having teachers carrying guns. But I suspect that darned

So let's put the reverend superintendent's foolhardy willingness to needlessly increase his school's insurance premiums and the chances that his students and staff will be injured or killed by firearms, into Biblical perspective. Let's review Reverend Fox's favorite Bible verses:

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

  • Trust in the Lord, not guns.
  • He will make your paths straight, not your aim.


Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

  • The Lord gives you strength. A gun on your hip does not.


1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

  • Fear and machismo are powerful temptations. Faith in a loving god and commitment to rational, peaceful responses are more appropriate Christian responses to such temptation than dressing up like a gladiator.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition—if I were a Christian, that's not the slogan I'd want a private Christian school teaching my kids. I don't think it's the message Jesus would recommend, either.


  1. Owen Reitzel 2013.08.26

    welcome back Cory. glad you're up and running again.
    I wonder what Mitchell Christian's insurance agent is feeling like today.
    I have to believe that when their insurance is cancelled they'll think twice about implementing this

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.26

    I'd love to know who insures Mitchell Christian. Maybe they have one of those faith-based in-church policies?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.26

    ...but then when the Lord is on your side, do you really need insurance... or a gun?

  4. Douglas Wiken 2013.08.26

    Next step will be to give the gunslingers pro-active rights to go after critics of religious indoctrination before they ever get to a school slinging a copy of the Constitution.

  5. Nichole Colsch 2013.08.26

    This news breaks my heart. This law is one of the primary reasons I left teaching at the end of last year. I have fifteen years of experience as an English teacher, speech & theatre coach, and a K-12 reading specialist, but, as long as this ridiculous law is on the books in South Dakota, I won't be teaching here. I experienced enough of the school-to-prison pipeline when I taught just outside Detroit. I won't be a part of making South Dakota schools look and function any more like prisons than they already do. I miss the classroom something fierce already. Perhaps a move back to Minnesota will help salvage what's left of my career?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.26

    Nichole, I'm dismayed that we lost you to our Legislature's stupidity. On the bright side, Mitchell Christian so far is the only school willing to go along with the Legislature's stupidity. Any chance we can get you back in the classroom and the theater?

  7. Nichole Colsch 2013.08.26

    Probably not anytime soon, Cory, but thanks for asking. I must admit that I was shell shocked at the experience of teaching K-12 in a small district in South Dakota the last two years. Our family moved here seven years ago, after having lived, worked, studied, and taught in Iowa, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. I took the first five years here to teach part-time at the college level and in adult education programs until our young children reached school age. The plan was to stretch the budget just long enough to get our youngest into kindergarten before I headed back into the classroom, full-time, two years ago. I was stunned to realize that not only would I take a full fifteen thousand dollar paycut from the full-time salary I'd had in Minnesota over five years earlier, but the family health insurance copay would have left me with take home pay of around $700/month. Add to that the right-to-work, anti-teacher's union atmosphere, a fairly pervasive culture of anti-intellectualism, a higher percentage of serious substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and socially regressive attitudes than I had ever experienced elsewhere, and the gunslinger bill simply became the proverbial back-breaking straw. I do miss my students (especially my quiz bowlers and my at-risk-come-success-story types) something fierce, but, for the foreseeable future, I am opting out of the field. Who knows? Maybe once my own children graduate, and the state legislature comes to its senses (Is that even possible?) and repeals this bill so I can go to work without the feeling like I'm entering an armed compound, I'll be compelled to answer thar most noble of callings once again and reconsider clasroom teaching. For now, though, I'm content leaving both the red pen and the concealed weapon behind.

  8. Nichole, I am always discouraged when I hear about a good teacher not in the classroom. Is the school where you were teaching considering taking up the call to arm someone? Or did you just object to the law in general?

    The pay is a completely different problem. If we insist on not paying our teachers adequately, we might as well admit the problem and offer a "How to Find a Rich Spouse" class as part of their teacher education.

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