The unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School left us all horrified with an uneasy feeling of vulnerability. Predictably, as we wrestle with questions about why and how something so gruesome and incomprehensible could happen, some reactions have been strong and swift: more gun control, better access to mental health services. Some have been feeble: curtailing violent movies and video games. And well, some can only be described as downright lunacy.
I readily admit, I hate guns. And the recent happening in Newtown has aggravated my feelings in this area. The tragedy also has me thinking a lot about teachers. Not from an academic point of view, but in the visceral feelings I have for teachers I have loved. There were only a few but they all had the same qualities in common: Patience. Compassion. Understanding. Passion.
Strangely enough, I don’t recall any of them having the reflexes of a marksman able to shoot the spots off of a ladybug a mile away. Not exactly the most endearing quality a teacher can possess. But then, I graduated school before crazy became the new normal. Before the gun-rights cabal spied an opportunity to push its pro-gun agenda on schools, and gun manufacturers saw a chance to rake in fear-laden cash.
It kicked off with the benevolent N.R.A. calling to arm teachers and other school officials. Of course, the nation’s largest gun lobby is a true friend of public education – that’s why it bankrolls a conservative group like ALEC aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools.
With the N.R.A. edict, gun zealots were off and running, eager to turn the nation’s teachers into gunslingers: launching a test program in tactical firearms training; offering free concealed weapons classes; and providing an “intensive three-day class” where educators can learn tactics “used by first responders.” Silly me for thinking law enforcement was a trained profession. Little did I know patrolling the playground was preparation for taking down a gun-wielding perp.
But what good is training if pistol-packing teachers are prohibited from bringing guns onto school property. Enter N.R.A. acolytes in Congress, state legislatures, and governors’ mansions – a smorgasbord of gun advocates who’d rather arm teachers than whisper a word about common-sense gun control.
Arming teachers is a knee-jerk reaction fueled by the absurd fantasy that armed civilians can stop a mass murderer. They can’t. But they very well might get themselves killed or put bystanders in danger. In a classroom, that means someone’s child!
With right-wing hysteria in full bloom, it’s really easy to lose sight of who isn’t crying out to turn schools into the OK Corral: local school districts, PTAs and teachers themselves. I boldly deduce that the steely resolve to kill another human being may not be programmed into someone who has just wiped a first-grader’s snotty nose or asked a class of fidgety 8-year-olds to put on their listening ears.
The N.R.A. and gun zealots push guns like a crack dealer, cloaking themselves in drivel about “freedom” in a country where there are more gun dealers than grocery stores. We can’t allow their ridiculous arguments to go unchallenged any longer. They have shown themselves to be radical, tone-deaf and, ultimately, more interested in gun sales than human lives.
Basically, they want to feel powerful. And that is hardly sufficient justification for putting our kids at risk.