I was listening to a talk call-in show on NPR, and they were discussing guns. I've already expressed my opinion, in my prior post, that I don't think citizens should own or have access to assault weapons. But I think I've been a realist about other guns. I live in a part of NY state where guns are prevalent, primarily for hunting. My former neighbor, after a successful hunt, used to hang his deer outside where I could see the carcass from my porch. I found it very disturbing. The truth is, I will still cry every time I watch Bambi, and even the mention of that scene, with the snow falling, where Bambi finds out that his mother is not returning, will bring tears to my eyes.
Once, many years ago, I had an opportunity to be a guest reader in a second grade classroom. They let me choose my own book to read, and I picked this one, which was a favorite of my son's at the time:
Below is the author's dedication inside the book:(By the way, author/illustrator Bill Peet was one of my son's all-time favorites as a child, and I concur. The stories are rich and wonderful, and Mr. Peet's illustrations are fabulous. If you've never read a book by Bill Peet, check them out. (If you like trains, try Smokey or The Caboose Who Got Loose; or perhaps you will enjoy Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, or many of the other stories about animals real or imaginary; or maybe you'll read Wump World, which may remind you of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.)
Anyhow, back to my background re: guns - I grew up in a home where my dad was a marksman. He spent time as a pistol instructor for the local Sheriff's Association, and he frequented the rifle range. He received many awards and honors for his marksmanship. However as far as I know, he never shot anything other than a target. He wanted me to learn to shoot but I refused. I don't remember disagreeing with my dad about anything much other than the easy accessibility of guns. He was so honest, and gentle, and cautious, that he couldn't fathom that anyone would misuse a gun.
Today's conversation on the radio was sincere; a really good discussion. Callers expressed many opinions, but everyone was being respectful and caring. Then one caller, who was also being sincere, said something like this: He said that 'all teachers should be armed; then things like this wouldn't happen.'
I thought back to a time in my life when someone had said something similar to me. After college, and before I began teaching, I had lived through a harrowing personal incident. I'd rather not share the details, but for the purpose of this post, I can tell you that I was home alone during a violent break-in. My coworkers at the time (I was living in Albuquerque, waitressing in a supper club) told me that I should get a gun. They all had them. I replied "But when he broke in, I was at the kitchen sink, washing dishes. Are you saying I should be packing a pistol when I'm doing the dishes?! Or should I say to the intruder 'can you wait a minute please while I go to the bedroom to fetch my gun?'".
So, then, does today's caller think that I should be doing a demonstration of papier-mache with a pistol in my apron pocket? He has GOT to be kidding. Or maybe he thought the gun should be ready and available in my desk drawer? In that case, do I say to the armed intruder to "please wait, I need to get something from my desk before you begin shooting!"? Yeah, that's going to work just fine...
Please tell me, what possible kind of solution is it to arm every teacher? I know he meant well, but what was this caller thinking?! I can understand increased security; I can understand practicing lock-down drills; I can understand being as prepared as you are able. I do not understand the benefit to arming everyone. To me it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Is there something I am missing?
Guns are not the answer. We need to make societal and cultural changes so that grabbing for a gun is never perceived as an adequate or appropriate solution to a problem.
OK, I've gotten it off my chest. Please forgive me. My next post will be something nice and different, I promise. (I can say this because I already know what it will be.) Thanks for listening.