If you took the time to read the revival post from earlier in the week, you know that one of the things we wanted to try to veer away from with the blog was talking about all of the ridiculous things that Donald Trump says.
It shouldn’t have to be explained to any authority figure that arming teachers is not a smart idea, much less having to explain it to the president. Unfortunately, we have a president who has to be told how to express empathy for survivors of a massacre- and still has to use a cheat sheet. So it’s not that surprising that something like this would escape his grasp.
Anyone with a working brain, however, can immediately see why armed teachers in a school might result in an unfavorable outcome.
When discussing having armed teachers in classrooms, one might think this would be the first red flag that would come up. In an active shooter situation, where hundreds of confused and panicked students are desperately trying to escape with their lives, the last thing you want are bullets whizzing by in the opposite direction.
As much as schools are regrettably forced to prepare for situations like this, an active shooter situation is not like anything any of us are used to, nor should we be. It’s not like a fire, where you know exactly where the danger is, and can move away from it quickly and efficiently. A shooter can be anywhere in the building, and can move in erratic, unpredictable patterns. If you happen to encounter him, numerous people could be injured or killed within seconds.
According to the ALICE Training institute, Counter is a measure of last resort, and does not involve fighting the assailant. Rather, it advocates creating a dynamic environment so that a shooter is less likely to injure a target, giving people a chance to escape. This is not a situation where more guns will make things better.
In order to confront a shooter, you have to stand still and aim at him, effectively giving him an easy target. You have to keep children from giving in to their natural instinct to get the hell out of the way of danger so you can get a clear shot- thereby creating more targets. And, heaven forbid, what happens if the hero teacher accidentally shoots a child who gets in the way, or worse, mistakes an innocent kid for the active shooter? Is this really a path we should explore, or debate, or even consider? Do we really want to turn our schools into the Mexican standoff scene from Reservoir Dogs?
2. It’s not the teacher’s job to get shot – Or shoot a kid.
Being a teacher is a difficult job. Our nation’s educators are too often woefully underpaid, have to deal with budget cuts so severe they are forced to buy their own schools supplies, and are saddled with the most thankless job of all – dealing with other people’s children. But they do it all with a smile on their face, because of the enjoyment they get out of helping teach the next generation.
But we should not be asking them to shoot the next generation – or risk being shot themselves. That’s not what they signed up for.
As any police officer or military serviceman will tell you, cops and soldiers are not just trained to shoot. They are trained – rigorously – to deal with the psychological ramifications of taking someone’s life. No matter how it looks in the movies, killing someone is not an easy thing to do, and even if it’s justified, it doesn’t make pulling the trigger or putting yourself in harm’s way any easier. (More on that later.)
Now imagine that the assailant is a teenager, about the same age as one of your children – or students, in this instance. Do you honestly believe that a “bit of a bonus” is enough of an incentive to ask educators to deal with that kind of stress and potential trauma? What kind of teacher would voluntarily sign up for that?
3. We have armed guards and officers in schools already – and it doesn’t work.
In a follow-up to Trump’s disjointed word-salad, The good-brain president doubled down on his ridiculous rhetoric, saying that a school without weapons is “like ice cream” to a potential shooter:
The trouble with this argument is that many schools across this country already have weapons in schools – in the hands of trained officers, rather than the underpaid janitors or lunch ladies Trump suggested should start packing heat. In fact, around 30 percent of schools currently have armed officers – including Stoneman Douglass High School, where the latest incident occurred.
It probably would have been a good idea for someone to have given Trump that information beforehand. Perhaps then, he would have known that the officer stood outside of the school, frozen in terror, waiting for more police to arrive on the scene – who, according to reports, also waited outside while a massacre was taking place.
I’m not writing this piece to drag the cops, but this is a huge sticking point for me. Time and again, we hear about how hard cops have it, particularly when people rally to defend officers after they kill someone who doesn’t have a weapon. But, when faced with an actual deadly situation where people’s lives are at risk, these police officers abdicated their responsibility to serve and protect the public.
I don’t believe all officers would have behaved this way. I would like to believe that most police officers carry out their duties honorably and with distinction. But cops are still human, and all the training in the world can’t prepare you to stare down the barrel of an AR-15 with a handgun. It takes a special kind of person to do that – and it’s not the kind of job I’d trust with the French Teacher.
But none of this is the most egregious part of Trump floating this idea into the public discourse. The worst part? It’s not even his idea.
4. Trump’s “ideas” are just talking points from the NRA.
Trump’s latest screed about arming teachers is yet another variation of the theory “more guns = less crime”, an idea first posited by John Lott back in 1998 – ironically, just a year before Columbine. The NRA has been using this claim as gospel, most recently taking the form of the “Good Guy With A Gun”.
The theory suggests that arming citizens helps make us safer, but this has already been debunked, with evidence and data actually suggesting that more guns, unsurprisingly, leads to an increase in violent crime. Unfortunately, the NRA has never been known to let inconvenient things like facts and evidence get in the way of their agenda.
Perhaps this is why Trump likes them so much. In fact, over the past week, the president has been pulling out all of the NRA’s greatest hits, blaming everything from mental health to violent video games for this latest incident.
To his credit, he did go against the NRA when he suggested banning bump stocks – something he did not suggest in the aftermath of the Las Vegas incident 4 months ago. The fact that this device was not used in Parkland should tell you what motivated his conversion now- it’s a means to stop the conversation around gun control, which is exactly what the NRA wants.
There was a time when the NRA supported common-sense gun control laws – they supported the National Firearms Act of 1934, in the aftermath of gangland violence during prohibition, as well as the Gun Control Act of 1968, in the aftermath of the high-profile assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the aftermath of decades-long mass shootings, however, the NRA has consistently stood in the way of further talks of gun control. Thanks to them, our country’s inaction on this issue has cost many people their lives, all for the purpose of further enriching gun manufacturers.
I am not naive enough to believe that gun control will stop all instances of crime in this country. Several ideas must be implemented, debated and considered to make our public spaces safe from incidents like this, which absolutely involve more officers. But common sense and logic dictate that we have to implement some form of gun control in this country, or we will continue to be rocked by tragedies like this one.
In order to achieve this, we have to come together in the interests of the common good, as we did before. And we have to stop allowing the loudest, most ignorant and least compassionate voices in the room to stand in the way of real solutions to this problem – even when that voice is coming from the man who is supposed to lead us.