I’d just like to say something quickly here tonight about the controversy about the proposals for some school teachers and administrators to be allowed to arm themselves and carry a weapon, and have one (or more) immediately available in an emergency situation:
It’s a good idea, and it’s an idea we should have advanced a long time ago. In addition to other ideas we’re all considering, having a few teachers at each school who volunteer and are willing to be armed is not something we should reject out of hand – in fact we should be supporting them.
It’s a good idea not because anyone wants to think of a school as a “less-safe” place to be. It’s a good idea because the reality is that a lot of schools really **are** a “less-safe” place to be. Moreover the idea that at least someone shouldn’t be armed at a school just because…”it’s a school!” is not a defensible reason. It’s just dogma. Having some people who are competent at handling firearms won’t make schools “less safe” – it will make them more safe.
The people who are elementary school teachers and administrators are not incompetents and I know they care deeply about the children whose care they are responsible for every day. They’re also adults who are capable of defending themselves and – if the need arises – to defend those children and themselves.
This isn’t about turning schools into armed camps. It’s actually something that could be done discreetly and with a lot of careful thought. I think it would do a lot of good to have a few faculty members at a school who took the time to train, who had the interest, and who undertook the responsibility to be armed. It’s a big responsibility but it’s not an objectionable responsibility – it would be a very positive thing. I’d much rather send my children to a school where I know that at least some of the teachers and/or administrators had access to a firearm than not. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are Principals and administrators who could satisfy the requirements and would be interested and extremely capable if they undertook that role and were allowed to do it.
I support that initiative. It makes a great deal of sense.
America has the best gun training available in the world for people who are willing to seriously undertake the responsibility and take the courses. That isn’t a boast – it’s a fact. It doesn’t turn people into “Commandos.” It trains people to be really capable of using their weapons responsibly, and anyone of average intelligence and commitment can do it. So what if we decided to fund a few thousand teachers going to concealed carry and weapon courses. Would that be horrible? Would it change our view of ourselves, or them? I think it would actually help things a lot.
It’s not going to solve all the problems, any more than any other single answer does, but the reflexive idea coming from people like Mike Bloomberg that “it’s crazy” is just not helpful. I’m sure everyone in every town in America can think of at least one person in their school district who would be capable of stepping up and performing that extra duty, without much trouble or controversy.
People react against this idea largely because of their preconceived notions and prejudices. There’s some kind of barrier that prevents them from realizing: “We’re creating soft targets here, and nobody can defend themselves, but because they’re supposed to be sacrosanct, we can’t think about this.”
Well, we should think about it, and we should do more than that. Every school – elementary, middle, high school and others in America – should have a couple of people on the faculty who know how to use a firearm and have access to one. I personally don’t think public school teachers are categorically less competent or capable of handling their weapons than anyone else. Quite apart from the idea that they have to become “commandos” or “police officers” – which is utterly, absolutely false – many of them already own guns in their private lives. They probably don’t talk much about it, but they do.
We should be facilitating their efforts to make schools not precisely “gun free” but “random mass shooting free” – and arming a teacher or two – and training them, and compensating them for it – is a worthwhile thing to do.
It’s not an extreme proposal, although I know all “modest proposals” run into objections from people who want to call them extreme. Mostly for cultural reasons, not factual reasons. We all have our shibboleths. I know that there are people who teach at almost every school in America who would and could handle the responsibility with competence, and just by doing so they would reduce the attractiveness of their schools and the children under their care as targets of opporunity.