I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about how teachers should be armed. This would then put the power in the hands of a teacher to protect their students. I know I made light of some things in the podcast, but the gravity of all of this has become pretty hard to escape.
The romantic image being painted here is pretty vivid. The teacher, recognizing a threat – maybe hearing a gunshot – projects in an authoritative voice: “Get down!” Students scramble to positions as the teacher loads a clip and takes position behind a makeshift barricade. The door opens halfway as the attacker bursts into the room. A student screams, but before the attacker can even turn his body to the sound, the teacher levels his gun and fires three shots into the attacker’s head and torso.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
First of all, what the heck are the logistics of arming teachers?
“You give them a little bit of a bonus, so practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target,” says our President. I don’t know if he’s referring to just the price of the gun and training or something, but would this involve training teachers, or is it just the “you get a gun” bonus?
What stupid teacher would take a bonus for something like this? There’s already so much that we’re expected to handle that doesn’t show up anywhere in a contract and certainly isn’t covered via income. I’m supposed to know how to use a deadly weapon to defend my students? As simple as you make that sound, let’s take a look first at how we’re expected to handle less than this.
Below is from the website of the NEA about how we’re supposed to handle fighting in a classroom.
You will notice that nowhere does it say “directly intervene and prevent harm from happening to anyone to your best ability.”
It’s very clear: Teachers are expected to watch and monitor only, not to fight or beat their students. Obviously one of the problems involves legal liability. One cheap shot on a student because you intervened, Romeo-style, and you’re in trouble!
These same teachers that are officially kept from directly intervening in a physical altercation, are now obligated to eliminate deadly threats that may very well be members of the student body he or she is tasked with protecting? What if a stray shot hits a student? What if the gun jams and a student is killed by an attacker because the gun wasn’t cleaned? What if a surreptitiously armed student pulls on the teacher because he’s already stressed about an attack taking place?
My point is when this plan invariably goes wrong in one of the billion ways that it can, whose fault is it? If the answer is “the teacher’s, because he should know blah blah blah” then I’ll tell you where you can stick your gun.
Teachers do so many things that are not accounted for when being paid. This is an old gripe but needs to be considered when you want to add being trained bodyguards and all of the liability contained with that. There’s already an absurd liability on the teacher based on the fact that they are alone with the students for so long – who else is liable if not the teacher, right?
You don’t pay me to stay after school with your students. You don’t pay me to answer your student’s texts for help. You don’t pay me for the lesson I’m making at home. You don’t pay me for the fact that I would step in and prevent your son from getting his head thrown into a wall if it came down to it. You don’t pay me for any of that.
A bonus won’t go any way toward training me to kill for you or anyone else. I didn’t become a teacher to kill, nor did any of my peers. If being prepared to kill for you becomes part of the job, you can bet the “little bit of a bonus” won’t mean anything to me. Plus, you’d have to pay me what I’m worth for the job I already do before I’m willing to believe you’ll be able to compensate me for that kind of job detail. This job isn’t one that’s compatible with that one.
I may or may not have the ability to be the hero needed in the scene depicted above. The truth is, it’s all messed up. None of it is the job I signed up to do. In fact, a lot of being a teacher is doing a whole bunch of stuff that I didn’t sign up for. You think teachers need to step up to be heroes? We’re already working on it. We’ve done what it takes without you foisting “the ability to kill a man” into our job requirements. This isn’t even cowardice or any kind of self-doubt talking. Teachers have been reacting to these attacks and there are little to no notable accounts of any of them behaving less than admirable in high-stress attacker situations.
I don’t really see the complication here. There’s no need for a semi-automatic weapon to be easy to buy. Guns are already regulated, you say? Sure. Then keep developing those regulations so it’s harder for people to buy. Stop lecturing me about the AR-15 having only the minimum power of a bullet to take down a deer because again, I don’t care about the power – a semi-automatic weapon makes a dangerous person into a deadly person way more efficiently than a pistol or any other kind of non-automatic weapon. I’m not saying that I want anyone’s guns taken away, but stop expecting me to cry you a river over this “right to bear arms” that had nothing to do with automatic or semi-automatic weapons and everything to do with being able to defend oneself and to join a militia to protect your state. Limiting the type of arms is not unconstitutional or even unprecedented. I know this because I’m in a state that doesn’t allow me to own a pair of nunchaku.
Stop talking about responsible gun owners being inconvenienced; if you having to wait another month and another background check to get your gun saves my kids’ lives and gets you to shut up about me having to decide who lives and who dies when I’m not even trusted to stop a one-on-one scuffle, then that is a trade I’d make in a heartbeat.