Bullets Crayons

Arm Teachers? – An Educator Speaks Out

A Little Background Setup

I spent my professional life as an educator and an education consultant in public, private, parochial, military and embassy schools around the USA and the world. I would like to believe that I touched the lives of many, many people in positive ways that empowered them. I worked in public schools that diligently served immensely challenged communities. I also worked in some exceptional schools that defined the broadest concepts of humanity and world-class educational excellence.

While I never spoke about it at the time, I have taken loaded guns off of students who fully intended to use them. One of our students slit his sister’s throat in the middle of the night as she slept in bed. At the time we had no idea she was in the hospital fighting for her life. The next day, he was running after a student at school determined to do the same to him. I had to catch and restrain him until law enforcement and his dad arrived. Diagnosis: homicidal disorder. Yes, serious problems existed in every community in which I worked regardless of wealth or ethnic makeup. And, this list could go on and on and on. I did my job without carrying or using any kind of weapon.

I never had to deal with anyone with an assault weapon, though one of my schools was placed in lockdown while the SWAT team took a man with an assault weapon out of one of the trees in the woods behind the school. He went away for a while, thankfully, a good long while. And I will certainly never second-guess anyone working in education today. Things are different. Very different. The seeds of hatred, greed, and religiosity have taken root and now bloom their poisonous flowers.

The point I’m trying to make is not that I’m “all that.” I was just trying to be kind and fair to everyone, treat everyone with dignity, and do the very best job I could do. My goal was to solve problems with the least use of force, the least use of authority, and the least use of physical intervention possible.

I believed everyday and with every person, I needed to listen carefully. Think more deeply. Try to see the forest and not just this huge tree in front of me. Open the doors of possibility and empowerment for each person with whom I worked. Coming from a mean, judgmental, religious background, I had to learn how to do this the hard way.

I was lucky.

This I Know for a Fact

Armed Elementary Teacher

If any of the school districts in which I worked had allowed anyone beyond our campus police officers to carry a weapon on school property, let alone required them to, I would have quit on the spot. Non-negotiable. From my vantage point, the inevitable outcome would be the senseless death of even more people.

“She reached into her backpack, and I saw something silver. I thought it was a gun. How was I to know she was taking out her cell phone. Students have been told not to have those out in school.”

The fact that I feel compelled to have to write about not arming school teachers or administrators is one of the most appalling things to come in my lifetime. Appalling!

Facebook Post

I recently saw this on Facebook and shared it to my timeline. It makes perfect sense to me.

Brian Krassenstein - Facebook Ft. Hood

Two comments came in from two different people. I’m not mentioning their names. They’re good guys, and this is about what they wrote, how they think, not about them.

Comment One:

“Military members do not carry while on base. That is a statement based on ignorance.”

Let’s reflect on that for a moment. First, Brian’s not talking about them carrying. He’s talking about their combat training. Teachers will never have to go through military combat training to teach—hopefully! They are teachers, not soldiers. They are educators, not law enforcement.

And, if anyone knows both human psychology and guns, our military certainly does! Is the fact that our soldiers do not carry while on base an oversight? I think not. That policy exists for very good reasons.

People with guns are naturally seen as aggressors. They are tempted to escalate to deadly force all too quickly because they can. Even simple arguments that become emotionally heated can quickly get out of hand. “I told you to keep your hands off of her. She’s mine!”

And this doubly applies to open carry. Who are the police going to justifiably shoot in a weapons-oriented crisis? —anybody pointing a gun, open carry, armed teacher, or a perpetrator. So open carry and arming teachers just sets you up to be seen as the potential aggressor, the terrorist. And in the confusion and intensity of the moment, that risk factor, you, will be eliminated. Georgians, are you sure you want to open carry? Seriously?!

And this brings us to Comment Two:

“Ft. Hood would have had a different ending if the soldiers had their weapons.”

I would completely agree with that statement. Ft. Hood would have been a far worse blood bath than it was. Why? Because males with guns would have started shooting anybody and everybody with a gun. It’s not like the terrorist wears a sign: “It’s me you’re after. Try to shoot me!” Clarity rarely exists in the searing heat of a crisis situation.

I also will put this out there: the first people the white males with guns will start shooting are people of color, people that “look like terrorists.” Our nation has not come to terms with the fact that a very significant percentage of these terrorists are white, male terrorists. We choose to lie to ourselves and call them “lone wolves” instead. That term sounds tidier and less “offensive.” Let’s call this what it is: racism.

At My Restaurant Table

I was seated at our table at a favorite restaurant a couple of weeks ago. A very old, incredibly lame man walked by, next to me, heading for the bathroom. He had a walking cane, which he clumsily managed, to assist him as he feebly and slowly limped along. I wanted to give him ample room to pass me without touching him for fear that if I did, the slightest touch could knock him over.

When he hobbled up parallel to my shoulder, I saw he was not wearing a belt, and he had a rather large handgun stuck between his pants and his skin on his side. The handle and part of the trigger were exposed. I could have easily slipped the gun out of his pants, but they were so loose his pants would have fallen to the floor.

This restaurant is crazy crowded! Here this old codger could fall at any second and accidentally discharge a weapon in a crowded restaurant. He was in no condition to fire a weapon responsibly. It looked as if the gun could just topple out of his trousers. Welcome to Open Carry Georgia! Any kook can carry.

The Bigger Picture (that forest instead of the trees)

forest pathHe must feel unsafe, insecure, afraid. And these are among the many reasons he should never carry a gun in public. It boils down to poor judgement. Simply put: I don’t trust people with poor judgement.

We peddle fear. We scare old people. We frighten children. We deny everyone a living wage. We even convince otherwise reasonable people to support crazy ideas that are against their own best interests.

Why? Because all of this increases profits for the wealthy and elects their minions. And rather than removing the weapons of war from our streets, we do what white, Republican, fundamentalist Jesus wants us to do: We offer our thoughts and prayers. Excuse my directness, but that’s just pure, meaningless bullshit!

Add more weapons in school? [Insert every string of horrid expletives known to humankind here!] Why not try something new, something that will work: get rid of the weapons of war1. Our streets and our schools are not war zones yet! Put more guns on the streets and in our schools, and they absolutely will be.

And One More Thing…

God not allowed in schoolSometimes I just grow sick to death of not confronting the crazy. So, here’s another little Facebook tidbit with which I wholeheartedly agree. I’m over the batshit crazy talk of the self-indulgent, ignorant and uniformed who try to foist their limited, tiny perspective on the rest of us! Fact: Many, if not most, of the public school educators with whom I was privileged to work were both dedicated and devout!

Okay. That is all.

  1. Don’t hide behind that hackneyed, illogical tripe about “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Because people with AKs can kill a whole lot more people a whole lot faster. Isn’t that the whole point?! You didn’t hear me talking about gun ownership. You have heard me talking about the hideous weapons of warfare in the public commons.