Home > Uncategorized > Day Five – A Bad Idea

Day Five – A Bad Idea

December 18, 2012

The thought of teachers and principals packing heat at school scares me. People owning guns because they like to hunt, participate in shooting competitions, or feel the need to protect their homes – that’s all fine. But guns at schools? I just can’t accept that.

Nonetheless, it’s an idea that will probably get serious consideration during the next legislative session. I imagine it will be discussed more than school funding, in fact.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve talked with some teachers, administrators, parents, and students. I talked to people I know, so this was – to say the least – a sample of convenience. The vast majority of people I discussed this proposal with were against it. Some were not. While I find the idea to be completely unreasonable, there are a number of otherwise reasonable people who disagree with me. That reality still doesn’t make it palatable.

If you’re a teacher faced with the unthinkable, your duty is to protect your children. Your responsibility is to stay with them. It is not your job to create crossfire. Or to run down the hall on some sort of a quest. As a teacher, it is always your job to supervise your students.

Locked doors have served as a deterrent in past shootings, including the one Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Guns in classrooms will create anxiety to a degree that far outweighs any theoretical benefit. While some students in our classrooms have grown up around firearms, some have not. While some students are well-trained in gun safety, others have had their neighborhoods torn asunder by violence and would prefer not to see a gun in the place where they’re supposed to feel safe.

This is part of the conversation we need to have about making our schools safer. It’s an idea that we’ll hopefully discuss, seriously, and then reject. You can be completely well-intended and still have bad ideas.

The conversation cannot stop there, however. We have to talk seriously about our values. After the last few days, I’ve learned that I’m supposed to be afraid of: single mothers, guns, drugs, video games, movies, atheists, religious fanatics, the mentally ill, schools, special needs children, gun enthusiasts, and gay marriage. This list of scapegoats shows our collective grasping for an explanation.

The truth is that we can never have a world in which all people treasure each other for their differences. We don’t know what made the shooter snap, and as I said Sunday, I’m not interested in reading up on him. I’m not interested in that as much as I am in the stories of heroic teachers, grieving families, and a recovering community.

On the political side, yes, I do think it’s fair to ask our elected leaders what loyalty the NRA has bought with their donations. I think it’s time to ask if it’s ok that someone could walk into a public place (remember, this doesn’t just happen in schools) with enough ammunition to just keep spraying until the authorities arrive. That’s another idea that I hope we find ludicrous.

By the way, I get that this is Oklahoma. I get that my opinions here may cost me some of my following. That’s fine. I’ve tried to address some of these ideas as respectfully as I can, and I always welcome respectful dissent and discussion.

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  1. December 18, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Great post. Our job is teaching, not law enforcement. The best defense is prevention — find the kids in school who don’t feel they belong, and get a teacher to mentor them. Somebody in the school building has to know and care about each kid.

    After Columbine, kids in Oklahoma’s alternative ed programs told us that they felt safer in alternative ed than they had in the high school — because everybody really knew everybody else, and no one was ostracized. We need to take care that these programs continue to provide a caring adult rather than just a computer program.

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  2. Jason Midkiff
    December 18, 2012 at 9:09 am

    One of the hardest things on school safety is the majority of school buildings were built decades ago with thought to lockdowns, which were not as prevelant. It would cost 100’s of millions to even begin to address that issue. I do feel the legislature will address the issue however I think in the end they will pass nothing, or at best give local boards the authority to permit administrators to posses guns at school and school functions.

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  3. kristina
    December 18, 2012 at 10:53 am
  4. Teacher's Husband
    December 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    A “No Weapons Allowed” zone meaning no guns, is a government certified free-kill zone; school, shopping center, whatever. That is a reality though not palatable. The exceptions are those facilities that have armed security including some schools, government offices and the occassional mall. Law abiding people respect those zones whereas lawless or mentally disturbed (but not necessarily dumb) people may not. This is demonstrated by the people who engage in these destructive actions and what is learned about them after the fact. Sadly, I have a close relative who falls into this category.

    I agree that most school staff (in some cases, all) will not want to carry a weapon. That is not what they want to do or signed up to do. Frankly, for many educators I know, I would not want them to be armed either. However, if a few, such as up to three in a school system, operating under a Safety Monitor, would qualify after (1) be willing to do it; (2) qualify such as successfully completing a course at Front Sight (free for educators) where all issues & others in par 4 are covered in detail; (3) meet all state requirements…I don’t have a problem with it. No one has to know publicly who the individuals are or where they are located in the system. But the free-kill zone ceases to exist. That fact would not be lost on potential wrongdoers. The probabilities of a school becoming one of these disasterous events is, in reality, very small at this time. Many schools do not have outside security and are flying on their own. Each administration would have to decide what, if any, pursuit of these matters would occur.

    I fully agree with locked doors approach and any other enhancement that acts as a preventative as well. I firmly believe an “ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure.”

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  5. Teacher's Husband
    December 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    From Reason Magazon today…””Of course, the horror of Newtown will “change the way we look at things.” But we shouldn’t let it change our ability to assess risk—and to think before we legislate.” – quoting 3 paragraphs from the article…

    Evidence compiled in the federal government’s annual survey, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, consistently shows that “a student’s risk of being murdered in school was de minimis—so tiny it was effectively zero.”

    The latest edition (2011) of that report notes that “over all available survey years, the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 2 percent of the total number of youth homicides.” In terms of child fatalities, both the backyard pool and the family car are far more dangerous than the classroom.

    In 2010, the journal Education Researcher put the problem in perspective with an article called “What Can Be Done About School Shootings? A Review of the Evidence.” Per the authors’ back of the envelope calculation, “any given school can expect to experience a student homicide about once every 6,000 years.”

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  6. Ann
    December 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the post “Day Five…”. I think we could make the chances of school shootings even lower by not giving the shooters so much publicity. TV has a heyday with shootings. Some unbalanced people crave that attention. Wouldn’t broadcasters and viewers be willing to forego the obsessive coverage if they knew their abstention could save lives?

    How about cutting back on the diet of gun violence shown relentlessly on TV and in video games? The focus on guns is unimaginative. Kids deserve a wider, healthier world for their growing hearts, minds, and personalities.

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  7. Joe
    January 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I’m an educator in Oklahoma. I’m also a former large city police officer and urban county deputy. I’d have no problem being armed as additional security for a school. I can assure you. My classroom is the last place a shooter would visit.

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    • January 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Joe, I strongly disagree with you about the wisdom of arming school personnel. Still, I appreciate you reading the blog and taking the time to comment.

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