Arming Teachers: This Is the Best We Can Do?

A couple of weekends ago while we were visiting my parents in Connecticut, my oldest brother made a cameo after work.

He’s a sixth-grade teacher and he’d just finished his school day, so he stopped by our parents’ house to say hi to his nephews and grade some quizzes before heading home. I was working at the kitchen table and amidst my typing and his red-pen scribbling, I suddenly heard him say, “98! Way to go, Mia!”

He was genuinely happy that she had done well on his quiz.

Teachers are amazing. Arming them is idiotic.

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This morning, I posted a long Facebook status with a photo of some rubber door stoppers my wife picked up on the street in our neighborhood (people put stuff they don’t want on their stoops, it’s a Brooklyn thing). I wrote about what the door stoppers are for – if students ever need to hide in a closet, god forbid, they can use the stopper to prevent a gunmen from entering – and why it’s so sad to even have to contemplate putting them in my son’s backpack.

It’s a pretty flimsy safeguard – is a locked door really going to stop some psycho spraying the room, and does the prospect of a child rushing into a closet to escape a shooter make anyone feel good? – but the efficacy of door stops isn’t the point. The point of my Facebook status is how frightening and depressing it is that parents feel like stuffing door stoppers in their kids’ backpacks is all they can do. This is what it has come down to, in 2018?

Not better gun control or any actual gun reform, but active shooter drills and rubber door stoppers. Oh, and arming teachers.

Arming teachers? Really? It’s such an absurd idea that it would be worthy of a good laugh if it weren’t actually being embraced by the damn President and his bought-and-paid for Republican congress.

No one really knows what they’re capable of in a life-and-death situation until they’re in one, and more power to teachers (and anyone else) who put themselves in harm’s way to confront shooters and protect children, but arming teachers and expecting them to play cop, soldier, or vigilante is a disaster waiting to happen. (It’s even a disaster for actual cops and soldiers more than we’d like to admit!) And it’s certainly not something most educators – “specially trained by experts” or not – are eager to do.

Leaving aside any skill or lack thereof with firearms, most teachers, despite what happens to many of them as they progress through their careers, have noble reasons for choosing their profession. They have to, because unless they simply love being broke, disrespected, and overworked, there’d be no reason to teach; having kids of their own would offer the same benefits.

No, most teachers become teachers because they want to actually teach.

They want to help kids learn and reach their potential and surpass their own expectations and grow up to make a difference. Like my brother, they get excited when a hardworking student gets a 98 on a test and they get disappointed when an unfocused student fails. They get sad when they see their paychecks, but they keep teaching because it’s about more than money to them, and there aren’t very many jobs like it. Or very many people cut-out for it.

My brother is a great example of a kind person and a great teacher who cares about his students and in no way shape or form should ever have a gun. Not merely because the dude takes twenty minutes to finish a five-minute story and would lose a quick draw contest if he had a two-week head start, but because putting guns in the hands of teachers is quite possibly the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, and I live with a 7-year-old who wishes farts could talk.

I’m sure my brother wants to protect his students in any way he can, but no teacher – no one in most jobs, save for a select few – anticipates facing off against someone with a gun, and asking them to be prepared to fight back with a gun of their own is straight-up insane. Even when they think they are prepared.parenting, parenthood, dad and buried, mike julianelle, friends, relationships, funny, humor, truth, honesty, dad blog, dad bloggers, mommy bloggers, gun control, NRA, teachers, teaching, gun reform, parkland, guns

Every new shooting and every tragic gun accident makes it clear that adding more guns to the mix does nothing but add fuel to the (cross)fire, which, of course, is exactly what the NRA wants: people buying more guns to defend ourselves from all the other people who’ve already bought guns and to be honest could probably use some new, better guns to defend themselves from the other people with new guns, and on and on and on.

This approach is good for the gun industry and bad for just about everyone else. Especially our kids who are growing up in a country where guns are more protected than they are. (Or one that doesn’t have the money to spend on education – except when it comes to buying guns and arming teachers with them.)

Which is why, since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida one month ago, America’s endangered students have been leading the charge for long-overdue change with their articulate, educated voices and their peaceful, powerful protests. (Clearly they’ve been taught well!) These teenagers know that arming teachers with guns and arming students with door stoppers are two vastly different yet equally ineffective attempts to protect them, and that the only way this problem gets solved is with actual policy change.

Unfortunately, no one in Congress seems willing to make any. So until they free themselves from the NRA’s shackles, arming teachers and telling kids to hide in closets seems to be the best we can do.

And that’s absolutely disgusting.


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