Don’t Give Guns to Teachers

Teacher at front of classroom looking frustrated.
As a former college English teacher, I can tell you there are certain topics students always want to write about. Abortion. Legalizing weed. The death penalty. Gun control.

Teachers who have read a few dozen papers on the same topic often want to stick knives right in their own damn heads. Knowing this, and fearing for my life, I forbade my students from writing on these often-plagiarized topics. But we did sometimes discuss those topics in class.

Whenever the topic of gun control came up in my classroom, I’d ask my students to imagine that I had come to class in a homicidal menopause-induced rage.

“If I had a knife, and I threw it at John there in the back row, and it stuck right in his head, what would y’all do?” I’d ask.

Students would laugh, scream, squeal, or pick at their fingernails, but one would finally say “We’d jump on you.”

“Exactly,” I’d say. “Now imagine I came into class with a semi-automatic weapon and started mowing y’all down in a menopausal moment. What would you do then?”

I wouldn’t make that argument in a classroom today; in fact, I never made it again after Sandy Hook. But there’s another reason teachers shouldn’t have guns besides being driven mad by menopause or by having read too many crappy essays.

Teachers are human beings, and human beings fuck up.

In all the talk about the right to bear arms and the Constitution, this simple fact never seems to come up — that human beings are fallible. We do things we don’t intend to do. We lose our tempers, and we lose our minds. All of us.

If lives weren’t on the line, it would be humorous to watch gun-lovers fuck up. So many of them seem to think they, and other gun-lovers, are free of human fallibility, that their “training” will insure safety, that their “good moral character” will insure that that they use guns responsibly.

They need to read Greek mythology, or modern psychology, or the holy books of all religions, or statistics, or biology. Human beings are fallible.

Should we entrust fallible individuals with killing machines in environments where killing is not the goal? In environments full of vulnerable children? I think not.

Also, most teachers don’t want to carry guns in the classroom. They want to teach our children stuff like Greek mythology, or modern psychology, or the holy books of all religions, or statistics, or biology.

Is having armed guards in schools the answer? It wasn’t in Parkland, where the armed guard — a fallible human being like you and me — got scared and ran away. Most of us would. Self-preservation is deeply embedded in human biology.

I used to be a teacher, so I’m biased. But it seems logical that education about how to identify and talk to kids who are acting weird could help preventshootings. I can’t think of a single school shooting that happened out of the blue, without any hint that the perpetrator was behaving in a threatening manner or losing his grip (pardon the pun) on reality.

We need to work on preventing school shootings before they get started, and before we get all gung-ho about reacting to them with more violence. All the talk I hear about “adept shooters” is just making me want to stick a knife right in my head.

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