Do you really want to give me a gun?

It suddenly sunk in with all this talk about arming school teachers to prevent mass shootings — hey, that’s me! I teach! What kind of gun do I get? A big one? I want something intimidating, you know, like that monster handgun Dirty Harry waves around.

Then I want to know the rules of engagement here. Do I get to shoot students for just carrying a gun, or do I have to wait for them to kill someone first? Do I get the same benefit of the doubt that cops get –like, if I see a student reach inside their coat, or move their hand down towards their belt, is it OK if I shoot them? Just in case?

Also important: if I aim to shoot a suspicious-looking student, and miss and kill some other student in the crowd, I won’t be blamed for it, will I? It’s just collateral damage to protect our precious students, these things happen, it’s just part of the cost of maintaining the peace.

If I murder a student while teaching, I would like to have at least 30 days paid leave, so that I can recover from the emotional trauma. A medal for bravery would be nice, too. I think we should add a section to our yearly tenure and promotion review in which we tally up our confirmed kills, and all the faculty applaud our brave teachers who have shot someone in the performance of their teaching duties.

You can trust me! For sure, I wouldn’t be like that Utah teacher who shot herself by accident. I’d be safe. I’d have the safety on at all time, and no bullets in the chamber, until, that is, it was time for me to intentionally shoot a student, a responsibility I would take very, very seriously.

I am concerned, though, that we have a 14:1 student:faculty ratio here, and I see a lot of my colleagues in the community spaces with students milling about. There’s going to be some intense competition to bag students, and I’m going to have to be quick on the draw if I want to be first. Maybe I need a bigger gun? Or two guns? Or maybe a hand grenade? I wouldn’t want the chemistry department to get a higher score than the biology department, you know.


  1. Jason Nishiyama says

    If biology is getting guns, physics want fissionables. If body count is what matters I want something bigger.

  2. sirbedevere says

    A question I saw raised by a teacher online: Do you want to be holding a gun when the SWAT team bursts in?

  3. KG says

    I wouldn’t want the chemistry department to get a higher score than the biology department, you know.

    Come now. If the biology department can’t wipe out the whole student body, and most of the state, with a genetically engineered smallpox-rabies hybrid, what sort of mad scientists are you?

  4. says

    According to the article, the teacher had to complete a training course. Why did she shoot herself then? What kind of training are we talking, absolutely none?

  5. jrkrideau says

    This reminds me of Fuschsia Dunlop’s comment about being in cooking school, surrounded by hundreds of young males carrying razer sharp cleavers.

  6. blf says

    A question I saw raised by a teacher online: Do you want to be holding a gun when the SWAT team bursts in?

    And a point Some Old Programmer raised in an earlier thread: Suppose the armed teacher is black when the copsgoons arrive…

  7. laurian says

    Do we really want people willing and able to kill children teaching them? What should a child make of the fact their teacher is willing and able to kill them? If nothing else, arming every 5th teacher will create a fascinating social study

  8. Snarki, child of Loki says

    “physics want fissionables”

    20kt in a roller-bag with a dead-man switch. Go ahead and shoot, Mr. Crazed Student, you won’t be able to run fast enough.

    AND it would guarantee that the Univ. Admin pony up for FIRST CLASS health care, also, too!

  9. komarov says

    Given your work with zebrafish and the general cephalopod theme, I think the choice should be obvious: Harpoon gun. Big? Check Intimidating? Emphatic check. You might even be able to find a suitable belt-fed, fully automatic version to keep up with your more conventionally equipped colleagues. If it exists at all, it’ll be available in some emporium of marine warfare for the discerning gentleman right there in the US.
    You probably don’t want to suggest explosives or anything like that, though. If you do the chemistry department will have the advantage from the get go, at least until physics finishes some of their more exotic “applied research”.

  10. says

    True fact: there are frequent incidents in which cops shoot themselves by accident. Also there are plenty of accidental discharges in other contexts. Accidental shootings are a real problem: tell me again how having a gun in a classroom is going to make kids safer? You just put them on a shooting range.

  11. cartomancer says

    One place I taught in used to have a replica of a Greek Hoplite’s weapons and kit in the corner of my classroom. It made me feel so much safer knowing I could grab the seven-foot doru spear and run a student through at any time for insubordination, or hide behind the hoplon shield if barbarians attacked.

    We lived in constant fear of Macedonians though. One of them might get in with his bloody great eighteen foot sarissa thing, and commit a mass piking from further away than my little spear could reach. Clearly we needed a tactical classroom lithobolos for such occasions. Though I’d have much preferred a fully functional set of Roman baths to teach from.

  12. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests Mathematicians simply change the local topology in the vicinity of the fruitcake (and, for that matter, the arriving copsgoons): Change the Euclidean space into the interior of a sphere, with the fruitcake and goons inside. They can then run around and shoot all they want. Their physical exertions should set the sphere spinning nicely, which can be harnessed to, e.g., power the classroom.

    The self-propelled (albeit not perpetually) sphere could perhaps be used in, say, physic lessons. In addition, it bears a certain resemblance to Rover, suggesting the inhabitants can simply be returned to The Village, further isolating them from civil society.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    “Harpoon gun”
    the Russian Spetznaz forces apparently has a pistol that can fire bolts both underwater and on land.
    But if we are talking Russian, the 14.5 mm machine gun has twice the kinetic energy per round than the wimpy .50 Browning. If you also get a Ural motorbike with a sidecar, it actually comes with a machine gun mount! Good for chases through the university corridors.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    “in which we tally up our confirmed kills”
    But never claim more than you have actually killed! That is a major ethical breach (and it got Goering expelled from the WWI club for German aces).

  15. robert79 says

    I want a flamethrower!

    The only defence against a bad man with a gun is a good man who burns the whole building down, if there are no schools there cannot be any school shootings.

  16. blf says

    Cheese? Cheese? Did someone mention cheese? — that has definitely gotten the mildly deranged penguin interested. She’s now rummaging around trying to find her plans for the LANCER, Lunar Automatic Nearby Cheese ExtractoR, a device which detects all cheese within a radius of several million kilometres and transmats it to the local Massive Orbital Cheese Vault (or MOON (spelling due to poor stylusmanship)). Her idea is to modify it slightly to detect guns, and send it and the gunbearer into the local star. I’m not quite sure how she plans to modify a detect-cheese-and-telport-it device into a detect-gun-and-telport-it-and-gunbearer device, albeit since one detects a nice thing and sends it to a safe place, and the other detects a bad thing and sends it to another safe place, it’s probably just a matter of reversing the polarity of the neutron flow or something.

    The prototype LANCER was a small lightweight device, about the size and weight of an eyeglass case. She thought at the time that once a few glitches were worked out — it had a tendency to attract walruses, and for some reason kept landing the brie amongst the idiazábal, amongst other things — the size could be shrunk to about that of a dinner jacket’s button, making it quite convenient for when the cheese trolley rolls around. She seems to think the GUNNER (GUN & Nutter ExtractoR) might be about the same size albeit just slightly heavier. Wear it as a medallion or medal.

  17. weylguy says

    I wouldn’t want the chemistry department to get a higher score than the biology department, you know.

    Biology, philosophy and literature are all wuss fields whose instructors merit only a musket, preferably a flintlock like the Founders intended. For physics, chemistry and math, professors should be armed with 100-round, laser-pointing AR-15s, along with Elon Musk’s flame throwers.

  18. says

    If I get a gun I’m going to shoot the person eating something with raw onions in the staff room and declare self defense.

    Suppose the armed teacher is black when the copsgoons arrive…

    You mean like Philando Castille?
    Seriously, tge bigger issue will be racist white teachers shooting black kids “because they were scared”.

  19. blf says

    Something far more useful and sensible to give teachers — decent pay, West Virginia teachers stage walkout over wages and benefits:

    The teachers are the 48th lowest paid in the US, and many make less than $15 an hour after deducting for healthcare, union leaders say
    Teachers in West Virginia, who are the 48th lowest paid in the nation, quit school for a two-day illegal [sic†] wildcat strike on Thursday, the first time they have taken such action since 1990.

    They are demanding that state legislature vote to increase their wages, health care, and stop the proposed elimination of traditional teachers seniority.

    With starting salaries set at $31,000 a year, union leaders say that after deducting for health care costs, many teachers in the state make less than $15 an hour.

    Now, the Republican lead state legislature is proposing to give teachers only a 2% raise while drastically increasing healthcare costs so high that some teacher’s deductibles would more than triple.


    Despite the state enacting anti-union right-to-work legislation in 2016, support for the teachers among the public remains strong in the once union stronghold of West Virginia.

    On the picket line outside of Bridge Street Elementary, cars drove by honking and yelling in support of the striking teachers.


    [… S]upport for the teachers isn’t nearly as strong with the area’s State senator Ryan Ferns, the Republican majority leader in the state Senate.

    The teachers and their unions are threatening to strike and are making a threat to lock schools down and leave students in the cold, Ferns told the Wheeling News-Register last Friday. As a Legislature, we are not willing to respond to that.

    The comment outraged many of Wheeling’s teachers.

    “I have taught girls that were pregnant that were raped by their fathers,” said Lindsay Armmirante. “We have paid electric bills, we have paid water bills, we have taken kids shopping for clothes. There is nothing that we don’t do for our kids here if they need. So to insult us that we don’t care about our kids its way over the line”.


      † The strike is perhaps “illegal” only in a narrow technical sense.

  20. Ed Seedhouse says

    Well, armed teachers might be a good start toward getting decent pay for them. Laying a Glock on the table in front of you might make for interesting bargaining sessions! And the better armed the teachers the easier to get that departmental budget increased perhaps!

  21. komarov says

    Re: birgerjohansson (#15):

    Hm, I’m not sure how a harpoon / bolt pistol might score for initimidation. Maybe once you’ve made an example of someone, but it seems a tad too late by then. I admit it has the benefit of multifunctionality, e.g. for pinning up notices etc., but strictly speaking a harpoon gun could do the same.
    The motorcycle sounds good though. Maybe if we could make it amphibious and mount a harpoonlauncher instead (explosive-tipped maybe?) it should be perfect fit for squid Rambo and / or a Biology Professor in Minnesota. (The degree of overlap is really quite amazing)

    Re: Ed Seedhouse

    Well, armed teachers might be a good start toward getting decent pay for them. Laying a Glock on the table in front of you might make for interesting bargaining sessions! And the better armed the teachers the easier to get that departmental budget increased perhaps!

    “Interesting” is the right word. If you slammed a gun on the desk in front of someone and started demanding money they might just grab it and fire before calling the police about having shot someone in self-defence. It’s Russian Character Roulette: Will they pay, dive for cover or take the shot?

    Though perhaps if you did that with an empty gun they might be embarassed enough to increase your salary.
    *clickclickclick* “It’s not loaded.” – “… yes…” *click* ” Yes, I knew that. Er, so how much did you want again?” … *click*

  22. whheydt says

    Re: Snarki @ #8….
    The US Army developed a backpack nuclear demolition charge. Dialable setting from 50t to 250t. They decided not to deploy it as the thought of two random Sergeants being nuclear armed was more than a bit unnerving, even to the Army brass.

  23. whheydt says

    Re: PZ….
    Three possible choices, though none of them are exactly pocket-sized. In order of increasing firepower… 20mm Oerlikon. I’d suggest the AA rounds. 20mm Vulcan Cannon. Same, but much higher rate of fire. GAU-8. Even if the students resort to using tanks, you’ll still get ’em.

  24. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    ….but isn’t using explosives in the first place pretty much conceding chemistry’s superiority to biology? :)

  25. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohanson @ #15…
    Browning made/makes a 50-cal? The origin of Browning machine guns was a replacement for the old Vickers (IIRC) that the RAF used prior to the development of the Spitfire and Hurricane. The RAF held a competition to pick a new machine gun since, on the new planes, the breech mechanism would be out of reach of the pilot and could no longer be unjammed by whacking it with an mallet. The competition winner was Colt. The RAF asked for three things, 1. A license for UK manufacture (that’s where Browning came in), 2. rimmed instead of rimless ammunition, and 3. .303 instead of .30 caliber. Colt agreed to all three. In the early models, Spitfires and Hurricanes each got 8 of those machine guns.

    The amazing thing is that the pilots actually shot down German planes. The guns ran at 1200 rounds per minute, but only carried 300 rounds per gun. So the pilot had a total of 15 seconds worth of ammo. Later they added 20mm cannon to match the Bf-109, which started with four cowl mounted machine guns and when the Germans found out that the British planes would have *eight*, added a 20mm cannon mounted between the cylinder banks of the engine and firing through a hollow shaft in the propeller hub. (That’s why the nose of a Bf-109 looks kind of funny for that era.)

  26. Ed Seedhouse says

    komarov: ‘“Interesting” is the right word’
    That’s why I chose it. “Satire” is another word…apparently I am not so good at that.

  27. davidc1 says

    @9 Oi ,don’t give the Doc ideas .@15 Wrote ” If you also get a Ural motorbike with a sidecar, it actually comes with a machine gun mount!.”
    I have heard that some unkind folk from my motorbike days refer to them as Urinals .
    Are they the Soviet copy of BMW R series motorbikes?
    But i can’t talk ,i rode East German MZ motorbikes when i was a London Motorbike courier .
    Back home in Shropshire since 1997 .

  28. expat says

    @32 rietpluim

    Absolutely! And the chemistry teachers get chemical weapons, physicists get nuclear weapons, gym teachers use bats……helps to ensure safety in every department.

  29. vucodlak says

    When I was freshman in high school, I was initially placed in Ag class, despite specifically requesting that I not be. So, I complained until I was transferred… to shop class.

    Shop class was the school’s dumping ground for senior delinquents and freshmen sacrifices. I have no idea what kind of thought process was involved in sticking all the school’s most troublesome senior students in a room with a bunch potentially lethal power tools and a handful of scrawny freshman, but I rather suspect that someone in administration was, in fact, some sort of devil in human guise. In any case, shop took place on the other side of the gymnasium from the rest of the school, far from help, hope, and authority. It was perched on the very lip of hell.

    The leader of the delinquents appeared to be in his mid-twenties (though I’m sure he was still in his teens). He smoked, chewed and spit in class. He tormented we unfortunate freshmen, stuffing us into things, hitting us with things, and menacing us with power tools. He destroyed school property, and he regularly disrespected the teacher. I was all for sticking it to The Man, but this guy was seriously dangerous. The teacher, likely conscious of the fact that shop was held very far from absolutely everything and everyone else in the school, did little but bluster about any of this.

    One day, however, the delinquent pushed the teacher too far. It came at the end of a long, miserable week, during the course of which he had “accidently” set a small fire in which a freshman was “accidently” singed, and broken our only table saw. The delinquent stole the ball from the mouse of the classroom’s computer, right under the teacher’s nose, and secreted it about his person. The teacher demanded the delinquent return the ball, and threatened to have the student searched. The student spit in the teachers face. The teacher, who was a good six inches shorter than the student, laid the delinquent out with a single punch.

    Now, if that teacher had been armed (and if any teacher “needs” to be armed it’s teachers in a classroom like that), somebody would have gotten shot that day. Whether it would have been the teacher shooting the delinquent, or the delinquent(s) taking the gun away from the teacher and shooting up the whole classroom, I don’t care to speculate. My point is that somebody would almost certainly have died, and possibly many somebodies, rather merely being expelled (in the student’s case) and suspended (in the teacher’s case).

    In the interest of proper endings:
    The shop teacher refused to come back at the end of his suspension, so shop class became a literature class, taught by the girls’ gym coach. Most of the delinquents left with their leader, and those who remained had nothing more offensive than paperback books and pencils to menace their victims with. There was much frolicking and rejoicing in the land of the freshmen.

    What books did we read? Why, Lord of the Flies and The Outsiders, of course. The girls’ gym coach had a wicked a sense of humor.

  30. zetopan says

    “I want something intimidating, you know, like that monster handgun Dirty Harry waves around.”

    That is just a toy gun, you surely need a real hand held gun that would scare away the bad guys:

    /S In case anyone is sarcasm impaired.

  31. says

    Simples, all teachers will have to join their local police force, train themselves to shoot first and ask questions later, and wear a spiffing uniform bristling with weapons making themselves completely infallible. Then the students need show no fear. The richest ones, at least.

  32. KG says

    And art teachers? A palette knife? – rietpluim@34

    Or a quick, cruel caricature of the attacker?

  33. Louis says

    Chemists will win. We have the best drugs and explosives.

    The explosives that fire your bullets? Chemistry.
    The purification of your fissionable uranium? Chemistry.
    The methods that allow you to put things into cells and manipulate them? (Mostly) chemistry (I’ll give you phages…just. PCR though: Chemistry. Gel electrophoresis: Chemistry. Oooh a blot: Chemistry).

    You can all have your weapons of choice, when you’ve paid enough to get them from the chemistry department.

    Oh no physicists, what’s that? You have an inclined plane and you’re willing to use it. Pfft, kiss my compound pendulum. Oooh biologists have found a nasty prion, good luck getting that into the correctly folded state. Protein synthesis you say? I laugh at you. Laugh I say. Perhaps the psychologists want to get involved. It’ll take months to get anything done. Sociologists? How are your surveys getting filled in when they are on fire? Medics? Fuck them. We make all the good stuff. Scalpels? Not a chance. Artists? I await the symphony and portrait dedicated to the rule of chemists. Lit Crit? Oh go on, pen vitriol about my writing style. I’ll wait. You’ll be on fire. We like fire.

    Mwah ha ha haaaa.

    Louis (expecting payment soon)

  34. birgerjohansson says

    Hannibal Lecter was into art, so the right kind of art teacher might be useful…
    – – –
    The mildly deranged penguin might be interested in those lunar nuke-armed space interceptors in “UFO”!
    – – –
    The Ural motorbikes could be repaired with relatively simple tools (possibly a sledgehammer, when necessary)

  35. birgerjohansson says

    If you have seen “Smoking Aces” you will know the power of the chain saw as an offensive weapon. But unlike that guy, you should wear a kevlar vest.
    – – –
    The girl from “Kick-ass” could train the faculty in creative mayhem.

  36. consciousness razor says

    Music teachers already have their instruments, which, as everybody knows, can be used to devastating effect with the proper training. Making an appropriate choice can be difficult, but certainly The Founders would not have intended any of those newfangled contraptions like the ophicleide. Still, you have so many options, like viola, sackbut, glass harmonica, oboe d’amore (not English horn as it is unpatriotic), harpsichord, and so forth. Perhaps the shawm or serpent (or both!), if you’re looking for something old-school that’s designed for maximum penetration. There are also gongs, mbiras, hurdy-gurdys, and other things of a more … exotic … nature, which would serve these purposes quite well in the right hands.

  37. pita says

    I can’t believe I’ve only seen it addressed in one article so far, but the most obvious consequence of arming teachers is that more black and brown kids are going to die. Implicit bias is real, and its the reason that cops kill so many unarmed black people. Why would anyone think it will be different for teachers?

  38. microraptor says

    Pita @47: Because the people leading the call for arming all the teachers don’t care about the lives of students, black or white.

  39. Athaic says

    20mm Vulcan Cannon. Same, but much higher rate of fire. GAU-8.

    As a bonus, you can mount them on your car, facing backward, and use their recoil instead of this expensive petrol oil to move your car.
    I’m sure you would be able to claim the spent ammo as professional expenses, under “cost of freedom”.
    (the relevant section is near the end)

  40. magistramarla says

    I just read an article that said that Texas (of course!) already has been training teachers in some districts to be “safety marshals”, based on air marshals on planes. They are obviously anonymous, so the students and other teachers don’t know who is carrying. The Texan who was interviewed bragged that Trump must have been referring to the Texas program when he suggested arming some teachers.
    Yet another reason that I want to leave Texas!