Saturday, February 24, 2018

Love, Loss, and Semi-Automatic Rifles (By Brian Katcher)

                This month, someone commented on a post I made about how mass shootings were now so ubiquitous in America that we take it as a given that it’s only a matter of time until the next one. And then I realized that this was an old post I’d written about the Las Vegas shooting. Sucks to be right.
                Since the Florida incident, there have been a lot of suggestions as to how to prevent this: the regulation of bump stocks and assault rifles, an increase in available mental health care, more police presence at schools, etc. All plans have both merits and drawbacks.
                The most ridiculous plan, however, is the one advocated by the President of the United States, who actually said this tragedy could have been prevented had there been school teachers with guns who could have shot the assassin.
                Speaking as a teacher with twenty-one years of experience, I have to say that this plain would not work. I wouldn’t mind a full time SRO, but I am certainly not the one to fill that role. In the decades I’ve taught, I’ve seen the role of the teacher greatly increase. When I was in school, the district provided students with lunch. Now we provide them with breakfast , and sometimes meals on the weekends as well. We’re responsible for character education, life skills, and most noticeably, how to survive a gun fight. While we did have intruder drills when I started teaching in 1997, that was more what to do if a non-custodial parent entered the school and demanded their kid.
                So now I’m supposed to pull out a gun and execute a madman. While I do like to fantasize that I’m John McClane, life is not a movie. The president says the government will pay for my training and weapon. Personally, I’d rather see that money go to more teachers, but whatever.
                The thing is, I have thirteen years to retirement and I pray that I’ll never been in that Florida situation. In the mean time, I’m supposed to be responsible for a loaded handgun while I’m chasing kids around and misplacing my keys. I’d either neglect my teaching so I could be more cognizant of the weapon I’m carrying, or I’ll have it on me so often that I’d dangerously forget that I’m carrying a deadly tool.
                And should the worst happen, would I be able to take out an assassin with deadly accuracy in a classroom full of children? Or would I be hit while scrambling for my holster? Or shoot myself in the kneecap? Would I have the ability to kill a person, even in the defense of others? Could I kill a former student?
                There are obviously no easy answers here, but I know a lot of teachers and not one of them has expressed a desire to pack heat at work.


  1. Well said, Brian. And yes, I agree, the idea of arming teachers sounds really bone-headed to me.

  2. I'm crying as I read this because these are questions no civilian should have to consider. These are questions for military, for police -- not teachers. Not students. Not worshippers, concert-goers, or shoppers. And yet, our 'leaders' think it's appropriate.

    I'm focusing on the amazing fortitude displayed by the survivors -- their drive and commitment. Their ferocity. Their refusal to backdown even after craven bullying tactics displayed by those 'leaders'.

    These are the stories and the characters we need to write more of.