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Jan 19 2013

On Arming Teachers

Though we must protect the children,
What I’m seeing is bewilderin’—
There’s a call to arm the teachers in the name of common sense
Cos it wouldn’t quite be prudent
To give guns to every student
But we’ve got to pack some pistols to provide for our defense!

Now, in truth, my grade school teachers
Weren’t the stablest of creatures,
And I can’t imagine anyone who’d like to see them armed
But tough times demand tough measures
And our children are our treasures
Introducing deadly weapons will ensure that they’re unharmed.

Though this notion’s been suggested
It has never quite been tested;
Are there data showing guns will make a school a safer place?
Cos it really takes some gumption
To declare it by assumption
After cutting off the data you could use to make your case.

Bit of a rant, after the jump:

So, yeah, I saw a sign outside a business today: “Protect Our Kids–Arm Willing Teachers” (not the only such sign, I see). Looking back on my teachers, though, they fell roughly, but not perfectly, into two mutually exclusive categories–those who would not be willing to carry a weapon at school, and those who no sane person would want carrying a weapon at school. Mister K would have loved to pack heat. He also had real anger issues, and loved the authority his position gave him over students. There was Mr. F., in his first teaching job, who was hounded by students until he broke down. There were the strike years, when non-union teachers (and school administrators) got their tires slashes and windshields shot out. I’m sure you have your own examples; if not, consider yourself extraordinarily fortunate.

Now, I could be wrong. I could be remembering all the bad stuff, which was the case in part because the teachers I remember were not, themselves, armed. It could be that carrying a concealed weapon would have given these teachers the confidence they needed to be good teachers and reasonable human beings. I don’t think so, but hey, it’s a testable question.

Except that it isn’t testable, because the NRA more or less got to write its own legislation, prohibiting doctors from asking about gun use, prohibiting the CDC from compiling and analyzing gun death information. “Arm the teachers!” assumes that this will reduce rather than increase gun deaths in schools; what do the data say? What? There are no data? What, then, makes your belief that guns will help any more reasonable than my belief that they will not? Actually, I have a bit more reason to trust my assumption (again, perfectly willing to be proven wrong!) simply by looking at who it is that wanted to hide the data.

The NRA, I suggest, is afraid of the data. The second amendment does not include a clause that says “because it’s safer”, and my gun-owning friends admit they’d rather have dangerous freedom than safe control. Their right to bear arms is not contingent on any data showing that it’s a good idea. (Oh, but they are really good at generating hypothetical situations that show that it is. All the best examples are hypothetical.)

But this is different. They are claiming that this particular intervention will make schools safer. This is an empirical claim; a claim that can be tested with data. And the very people making that claim are the ones refusing to let anyone gather the data that could support it. Or, yeah, refute it, but who really thinks that?

More guns in schools. What could possibly go wrong?

19 comments

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  1. 1
    amity

    I was just talking about this earlier today with my daughter, who is in her second year of teaching middle school. This is not to say, in any way, that teachers are unbalanced. However, there is so much emotion and confrontation that goes on between students and teachers, firearms would be very dangerous to add to the balance

  2. 2
    Cuttlefish

    Of course–people do not need to be unbalanced in order to be a danger to one another! It doesn’t even need to be intentional!

  3. 3
    joachim

    Some courageous women confronted the killer at Sandy Hook.

    If just ONE of them had a gun, they could have shot him in the head.

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    A recent school shooting near me ended when a teacher talked the student into surrendering his weapon. How about we station a level-headed and clear-thinking teacher in every classroom?

    Nah, that’s crazy talk…

  5. 5
    Myoo

    @joachim
    And they could have missed and shot a children in the head instead. If all of them had guns and they all shot him there would be bullets flying everywhere, hitting Glob knows who. But all that is completely irrelevant, because teachers are not security guards. They already do and sacrifice enough for the meager salaries they get paid, they don’t need the extra job of guarding the school as well.

  6. 6
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Yeah, your hypothetical is entirely convincing, joachim. I had a teacher with anger problems who threw blackboard erasers and text books at students regularly. If he had a gun, he would have shot a student.

    Hypotheticals and anecdotes are fun but pointless. Hard data is required before tools that have no purpose but maiming and killing are introduced into classrooms.

  7. 7
    Richard Simons

    f just ONE of them had a gun, they could have shot him in the head.

    And if just ONE armed teacher lost their head, there could be another classroom full of dead kids.

  8. 8
    Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare

    Or there’s THIS:

    http://www.drudge.com/news/164796/school-guard-leaves-gun-bathroom

    Sure. Armed security guards and armed teachers–no problems would happen with that!

  9. 9
    Paul Hunter

    Yep, it makes far more sense to declare all schools “Gun Free Zones” and then advertise that to the entire world including any crazy. Then when the next tragic mass shooting in a school occurs be sure to give it 24/7 news coverage, with all the grizzly details, so the next crazy can get an education on how to inflict the maximum carnage and get their name before the world. Finally follow any recommendation that a teacher trained in gun defense might have been able stop the slaughter, by declaring anyone with a gun is skating on the edge of insane violence.

  10. 10
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    How about having a gate on the schoolyard and closing it during school hours so that people coming in must have business there, such as an appointment or a child in school, or at least not be carrying an armload of guns. Install a closed-circuit TV, a two-way audio system, and a remote gate release and the school office could monitor the gate for visitors.

  11. 11
    mikmik

    Yep, it makes far more sense to declare all schools “Gun Free Zones” and then advertise that to the entire world including any crazy.

    Fukn right. My main argument against gun control is that not all ‘crazies’ have guns, so we must make it easier for them to acquire them. To many crazies are being denied their right to keep and discharge arms. That is discrimination.

    Another point I want to stress is one that, strangely enough, has not been considered. Federal prisoners!
    I mean, wtf. most of them are citizens, and they have the right to keep and leave laying around, automatics loaded to the sky, with hollow point and/ or armor piercing ammo. It is a fuggin travesty, abd you know why?

    Because penitentiaries are dangerous places, and the only way to make them safe is to make sure everyone has at least weapons on them at all times – one in their ankle holster, and of course, the mini, or micro uzi, whatever their preference. Personally, I would take the micro. Easier to haul around, a higher firing rate – 1120 rounds per minite v 950 for the mini, with nlittle difference in muzzle velocity:

    The Mini-Uzi is a smaller version of the regular Uzi, first introduced in 1980. The Mini-Uzi is 600 mm (23.62 inches) long or 360 mm (14.17 inches) long with the stock folded. Its barrel length is 197 mm (7.76 inches), its muzzle velocity is 375 m/s (1230 f/s) and its effective range is 100 m. It has a greater automatic rate of fire of 950 rounds per minute due to the shorter bolt.[9]

    The Micro-Uzi is an even further scaled down version of the Uzi, introduced in 1986. The Micro-Uzi is 486 mm (19.13 in) long, reduced to 282 mm (11.10 in) with the stock folded and its barrel length is 117 mm.[13] Its muzzle velocity is 350 m/s (1148 f/s) and its cyclic rate of fire is 1,200 rpm

    A one hundred meter range is a tad limiting, because the fascist security personnel always meet in the farthest tower, to plan their attack strategy. It is only by having several weapons that the occupying force will respect the prisoners rights to live without the threat of harassment, and illegal search and seizure.

    There is a tremendous amount of drug dealing, and life threatening assaults, inside those gates, and do you know why? Because of the effin total ban on weapons! Are they so stupid as to not implement a tried and true policy for making the neighborhood cell blocks safe, and that is to guarantee every citizens right, and duty, to bear ridiculously over powered, combat tested, automatics and assault rifles complete with 60 round feeds loaded with armor piercing teflon coated steel. That way, the pigs, I mean filthy pig guards wearing vests will learn some respect for the rights of the very citizens that are responsible for providing them with jobs.

    It’s the freak-yellow paranoid liberals that are behind this illegal ban on weapons. Next thing you know, they’ll start putting infirmaries in the prisons, ffs.

    Because, if you criminalize guns, only the criminals won’t have guns. Fuckn bullshite, ho-o-ochch – *spit*.

    Fuck

  12. 12
    left0ver1under

    I’m sure you have your own examples;

    Or other potential situations, like a kid overpowering a teacher and taking the gun to kill people with. No teacher, no matter how big or tough, is invulnerable to a hit on the head from behind.

    If people are worried about gun violence in schools, then lock the doors or fences around the school, and control who comes in between nine and three. It may be difficult to prevent violence before or after school hours, when they’re coming and going, but it’s not impossible to keep out (or slow down) unauthorized people during class time.

  13. 13
    Paul Hunter

    Of course it makes sense to make control access to schools, except when the latest school shooter came to the locked door he broke thru and then was only confronted by unarmed adults.

    Yes, someone shooting back at an assailant can mean a child could be caught in the cross fire, but is the present alternative is no possibility of stopping the shooter better?

    We surround our President with secret service agents armed, with fully automatic weapons, and banks and businesses have armed guards, and we expect all them to be able to provide level headed protection.

    But, just as I expected, my mention of arming trusted teachers to protect schools is countered by comparing then to convicted criminals ready to kill at the blink of an eye, and examples of how they will lose control of weapons and carnage will result.

  14. 14
    lordshipmayhem

    The biggest problem I have with this?

    The biggest single-perpetrator killing at a school in history was done by a senior school administration official – a board treasurer – using precisely zero guns. He was one they would have trusted to be armed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

  15. 15
    jacobfromlost

    I remember my seventh grade math teacher cracked one day and started strangling a student. If only he’d had a gun, maybe that situation would have turned out…much, much worse than it did. (The kid was unharmed, and the teacher was allowed to retire at the end of the year.)

    I really can’t follow the logic of arming teachers, but if we’re going to accept that logic, THEN:

    A) Train teachers at the same level police are trained.
    B) Pay teachers a teacher salary and a police salary combined.
    C) Watch the number of qualified candidates dry up immediately, and thus be required to pay these teachers/police officers even more to attract candidates.
    D) Watch as fiscal conservatives declare they can’t afford this.
    E) Wonder why no one suggests all children be required to attend school in full body armor and bullet-proof helmets, as clearly this would be a more effective measure in protecting students from being shot than arming teachers.
    F) Then realize the logic of arming teachers is as practical as A through E.

    Can you imagine a teacher having a really difficult class, shouting at them to be quiet, and unconsciously putting a hand on the butt of their pistol? If guns are everywhere, it will happen…and what will the students then think about their safety? About the teacher? What will parents think?

    Not to mention the many times teachers find themselves breaking up a fight with kids pushing and shoving and punching every which way (or other semi-chaotic, yet routine events, such as evacuation drills, fire drills, lockdown drills, etc). What do you do? Keep your hand on your weapon the whole time to be sure a student doesn’t end up grabbing it in a rash moment? Which means you can’t use that hand to pull kids apart, which means you have one hand tied behind your back while trying to do your job. Do you fire warning shots in the air?

    Do we really want schools to be armed camps? Really?

  16. 16
    Suido

    Some courageous women confronted the killer at Sandy Hook.

    If just ONE of them had a gun, they could have shot him in the head.

    Just one, huh? How about two policemen. That would have stopped him, right?

    Probably, with some collateral damage.

    If trained policemen can’t hit a single man without also hitting three bystanders directly, and 6 other bystanders with fragment ricochets, why do you expect a teacher to shoot straight while surrounded by children and facing a gun wielding intruder?

    Like cuttlefish said, all the best examples are hypothetical, and I would add that they are too simplistic to be considered realistic.

    Teachers shouldn’t have guns. Civilian access to guns should be restricted, just as free speech is restricted with regards to defamation, causing alarm, inciting violence etc.

  17. 17
    mikmik

    Paul Hunter:

    Yes, someone shooting back at an assailant can mean a child could be caught in the cross fire, but is the present alternative is no possibility of stopping the shooter better?

    Why, yes, yes it is.

    Mother Jones:

    And what about cases in which citizens try to use their guns and things go terribly wrong? There are at least two examples of ill-fated attempts that you won’t see mentioned by those arguing for your kid’s teacher to start stashing a loaded Glock in her classroom:

    Shopping mall shooting in Tacoma, Washington
    As a rampage unfolded in 2005, a civilian with a concealed-carry permit named Brendan McKown confronted the assailant with his handgun. The shooter pumped several bullets into McKown, wounding six people before eventually surrendering to police after a hostage standoff. A comatose McKown eventually recovered after weeks in the hospital.

    Courthouse shooting in Tyler, Texas
    In 2005, a civilian named Mark Wilson, who was a firearms instructor, fired his licensed handgun at a man on a rampage at the county courthouse. Wilson was shot dead by the body-armored assailant, who wielded an AK-47.

    Such actions in chaotic situations don’t just put the well-intentioned citizen at risk, of course. According to Robert McMenomy, an assistant special agent in charge in the San Francisco division of the FBI, they increase the danger for innocent bystanders. (Exhibit A: the gun-wielding guy who came really close to shooting an innocent person as the Tucson massacre unfolded.) They also make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to do their jobs. “In a scenario like that,” McMenomy told me recently, “they wouldn’t know who was good or who was bad, and it would divert them from the real threat.”

    Imagined scenarios, which is the tactic I see used by anti-legislation group most often, is not realistic, is a best case scenario with almost no bearing on reality.

    How many times can you use the ‘what if’ fabrication and ignore what actually happens in real life scenarios?

    You use a fucking imaginary set-up as if it really happened, or at least what would have happened ‘if’ the right person, like a teacher, had a gun for self defense. You have no Idea what the details of the actual event were, and you fail to address the multiple scenarios presented that show how many ways your proposed ‘common sense’ conclusions could go wrong.
    In fact, my claim that a shooter with a pistol is probably only going to draw attention to themself, and then gets mowed down when said attacker reacts, actually happened in real life, and played out exactly as myself, and others, predicted:\

    In 2005, a civilian named Mark Wilson, who was a firearms instructor, fired his licensed handgun at a man on a rampage at the county courthouse. Wilson was shot dead by the body-armored assailant, who wielded an AK-47.

    I mean, wtf is your problem with realizing that the kind of outcome you imagine only happens on TV? Where men, and women, are using hand held pistols, the assailants have semi, or fully automatic rifles, and take many times more shots, yet almost never succeed in nailing the cops hiding behind car doors(which wouldn’t even come close to stopping anything more powerfull than a BB gun, in actuality). The bad guys never do what they would naturally really do, which is to shoot at the exposed legs of the cops, and bad enough about that, they never notice it when one of the dudes hiding behind the car door runs off, and they promptly forget that that cop was there in the first place, allowing him to suddenly appear behind the shooter and walk right up to him, without any of his mates noticing this either, and yell a warning.

    Seriously, that only happens on TV and in movies. Another clue that TVland depictions have nothing to do with reality, is when a cop and a psycho stand there with their guns point at each other, without one of the idiots just blowing the other guy away as soon as he could. What, they think that the cop can react so fast that they are afraid the cop will shoot him first, even after he has already taken the first shot?

    You are going to have to realize, Paul, that TV isn’t real, which I’m sure do, but TV illustrates how fucking out of touch with reality these scenarios play out on the tube.

    Your proposed outcomes that would result ‘if only the teacher had possessed a gun to kill the attacker with’

    Yes, someone shooting back at an assailant can mean a child could be caught in the cross fire, but is the present alternative is no possibility of stopping the shooter better?

    The imagined situation is as about as likely to work as having no gun, except that a trembling teacher would take out bystanders. If cops, COPS! like Suido hinted at, only hit their target on average 1 out of 10 times, what are the odds of the average teacher even hitting the assailant, let alone stopping him(or her)?

    At least a teacher that isn’t a threat to the gunman has the possibility that the shooter might not shoot her or her kids. It is in no way guaranteed that mass shooters will kill everyone they target(although the odds are good), but you are going to guarantee he will deal with you when you start spraying bullets in his general direction.

    Like the two examples that actually played out in real life, where an armed citizen tried to stop a psycho that was randomly shooting the people in a public crowd, the only thing that has been known to happen is that they get themselves killed. That article, and other Ive read, point out that not once in 69 mass shooting attacks, has the shooter ever been stopped by an armed citizen, NOT ONCE Those numbers result in predicting that there is A ZERO PERCENT LIKELYHOOD that citizens that are legally allowed to be carrying their own pistols, will have any effect except for raising their own chance of being shot and/or killed.

    Now, are you going to keep using your imagined best case scenario, to argue that being armed would have stopped the killer? Or will you now keep using it, knowing full well that your imagined situations don’t present themselves that way in real life. It doesn’t happen, Paul, not yet, ever. Thinking you have the ability to not only predict, but guarantee what would happen ‘if only the victims had been packing’ is absurd at best, and another thing you fail to ever consider, is that most people won’t choose to carry a gun, even if they could.

    Fuck, finally, I am stopping. shee-it.

  18. 18
    Paul Hunter

    Paul
    “Yes, someone shooting back at an assailant can mean a child could be caught in the cross fire, but is the present alternative is no possibility of stopping the shooter better?”

    Mikmik Response
    “Why, yes, yes it is….”
    You use a fucking imaginary set-up as if it really happened, or at least what would have happened ‘if’ the right person, like a teacher, had a gun for self defense. You have no Idea what the details of the actual event were, and you fail to address the multiple scenarios presented that show how many ways your proposed ‘common sense’ conclusions could go wrong….
    Thinking you have the ability to not only predict, but guarantee what would happen…”

    I can only say
    Indeed you have no Idea what the details of the actual event were, and you addressed ONLY the scenarios that show how many ways my proposed ‘common sense’ conclusion could go wrong.”

    Yes, I could predict that laws NOT allowing possible to use a gun to defense 20 children, certainly GUARRENTED the worst possible outcome!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Colorado_YWAM_and_New_Life_shootings

    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/blog/index.php/2012/07/thoughts-on-the-aurora-murders-and-armed-citizens/

  19. 19
    Holms

    #3
    Some courageous women confronted the killer at Sandy Hook.

    If just ONE of them had a gun, they could have shot him in the head.

    OR get caught without your gun because it was stolen and get shot anyway.
    OR get caught without their gun because even most gun owners don’t actually walk around with them all the time.
    OR have their gun available, but get shot by the assailant while they were drawing their weapon.
    OR have their gun available + draw it fast enough, but miss due to being teachers (as opposed to, say, combat ready personnel), and then get shot.
    OR have their gun available + draw it fast enough, but miss and hit a student.
    OR everything goes perfectly, but the police arrive on the scene and kill the openly armed teacher in the belief that they were shooting the assailant.

    Hell, even if we grant for the moment the notion that teachers with guns are just as effective at stopping assailants as say, tained police or soldiers, is that effectiveness enough to balance out the extra lives taken by the presence of additional armed people in a crowded environment? And before you bother disputing this, we know that firearm deaths are closely related to firearm prevalence from the statistics of multiple nations, not just USA.

    Thus, the number of lives saved due to armed teachers minus the number of increased firearms deaths from those same armed teachers needs to be a positive number in order to be even remotely defensible as an option.

    Or in other words, your thinking is vastly too simplistic for this topic. The statistics are available, and it is quite simply a bad plan.

    #9
    Yep, it makes far more sense to declare all schools “Gun Free Zones” and then advertise that to the entire world including any crazy.

    True, kinda. Not because there is anything wrong with declaring schools to be gun free, but because more places need that kind of approach. Reduce (not necessarily eliminate) gun prevalence, and you also reduce gun shootings of all varieties, from mass school shooting sprees to one-off murders.

    Also, if the assailant is ‘crazy’, then we can’t really expect them to make sound decisions anyway.

    Then when the next tragic mass shooting in a school occurs be sure to give it 24/7 news coverage, with all the grizzly details, so the next crazy can get an education on how to inflict the maximum carnage and get their name before the world.

    That’s an issue with media sensationalism rather than gun control.

    Finally follow any recommendation that a teacher trained in gun defense might have been able stop the slaughter, by declaring anyone with a gun is skating on the edge of insane violence.

    Sorry to disturb your fantasies, but it is a statistical certainty that increased gun prevalence leads to increased gun violence.

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