Teachers packing heat

BlogHer Original Post

A teacher in Medford, Oregon is seeking to bring a semi-automatic pistol into her classroom. The woman, who is a victim of domestic violence, wants to carry the weapon in order to protect herself from her ex-husband, whom she fears might show up to attack her at the school.

There's a discussion going on at the BlueOregon blog, but I'm disappointed to see no really new arguments there about carrying weapons, nor any attempts to address the larger issue: this is an abused woman who feels physically threatened at her workplace, a workplace that includes children.

I had a difficult time finding commentary on this issue by women bloggers. The (apparently mostly male) folks on gun discussion boards are talking about the issue, but your average Jane isn't writing about it.

Which is downright scary. Maybe everyone is tired about writing about gun violence on campus after the Virginia Tech tragedy earlier this year. And maybe we have fatigue, too, about domestic violence stories. Perhaps we feel any action we might take is futile.

But while those of us who don't feel guns have a place in the classroom dawdle, those on the other side of the issue are trying to make it easier for teachers to carry concealed weapons into classrooms.

For example, this week a Michigan lawmaker proposed a bill that would make it OK for teachers to bring guns into their classrooms. Why? To defend against terrorists and other attackers. MediaMouse points out that this lawmaker, Dave Agema, campaigned on a platform supporting educational reform. However,

This legislation is the first that he has proposed relating to "education," although it has nothing to do with his stated concern over increasing the cost "efficiency" of the schools nor does it focus on the quality of education in Michigan.

Michigan is not alone in proposing such legislation, and Nicki is far from alone in support of teachers carrying guns. Earlier this year, a Las Vegas police captain floated the idea that trained teachers serve as reserve campus police officers--with guns.

Nicki, a veteran and blogger who is active in gun rights groups, brings to the Michigan story the perspective of someone who has seen violence first-hand. She says the news media are reporting that

School officials are "horrified." They're not horrified at the prospect of locking down a school with hundreds of disarmed and defenseless people inside as one or more gunmen rampage inside the building, but they're "horrified" at the prospect of giving people the option of defending themselves and others?

No, they'd much rather provide grief counseling after the massacre is over.

Honestly, in this debate I'm sick of the gory scenarios coming from the imaginations people at both extremes of the debate: elementary school massacres by armed gunmen or an armed teacher who loses it one day and threatens his or her students with guns.

I wonder, too, how much of our opinion on whether or not a teacher carries a concealed weapon into the classroom is influenced by the fact that a huge percentage of teachers, if not a large majority, of K-12 teachers are women. Do we feel differently about women teachers carrying guns around children than we do about men teachers carrying guns around children? Do we feel differently about white teachers packing heat than we do about teachers of color carrying weapons? (I can tell you some of the folks on the gun control forums do--I ran across a lot of racism on some of the discussion boards.)

Personally, I don't think guns have any place in a classroom. In the college classroom, I'm responsible for my students' minds, not their lives. Worse, shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings, there was speculation on many fronts that if the students attending class had been armed, fewer people would have died. There's a real nightmare--frightened college students shooting indiscriminately because gunfire is coming from all directions, from an attacker as well as from fellow students.

Plus, let's be honest. If an attacker suspects a teacher has a gun, he'll just kill the teacher first. (Sorry--more gory scenarios, this time from me.)

Few people are discussing what would happen if we sought a middle ground. Slinksgirl tries to find it:

What if the school had a safe for the guns that were only fingerprint accessible to a few, chosen teachers in the case of emergency? Or do you believe that guns have no place in the classroom, ever?

If you support this idea, at what level of school should this happen? If you do not support this idea, what do you believe should happen to prevent future school shootings?

What are your thoughts?

Leslie Madsen-Brooks helps university faculty improve their teaching. To make her carry a gun, you'd have to force it into her cold, dead hands. She blogs at The Clutter Museum, Museum Blogging, and The Multicultural Toy Box.

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