Good Morning. My Name is Ms. Smith and I’m Packing Heat

I’ve thought of plenty of ways to reform education, but I will admit that arming elementary school teachers has never made one of my lists. Yet, here we sit, a few days post-Sandy Hook, and Representative Louie Gohmert told Chris Wallace “I wish to God she [Dawn Hochsprung] had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said.” (I guess he didn’t get the memo about not politicizing the shooting?)

Gohmert also argued that mass killings take place in schools because the shooters “know no one will be armed.” Once again, I’m proud of yet another representative from Texas who clearly spends his days in an alternative universe. If, Chris Wallace might have asked, the shooter was being reasonable would he have shot anyone? Wallace might have also pointed out that most mass killings are performed by people who are mentally unstable and one of the definitions of instability is a lack of sound logic.  Of course, Chris Wallace would have to commit himself to actual journalism to ask such a question.

I’ll let your imagination re-design our college teacher education courses to include gun ownership, firing range activities, and gun safety. I’ll also let you imagine the horror when pistol packing junior high teachers step in between two enraged 8th graders and one of them pulls the gun off the teacher and kills his classmate. In fact, I’ll let you develop the 1,000 reasons arming teachers is a bad idea.

Let’s be clear–people who are mentally unhinged don’t care if you are armed or not. The only people who care if you are armed are those people thinking logically and the people who are thinking logically aren’t going to go crazy and shoot up the place. It’s a classic catch-22, only in a good way.

For today, though, I’m going to cede the remainder of my writing to Alan Jacobs. Jacobs, in “Guns, Risks, and Safety in The American Conservative, captures my thoughts about arming teachers so well, and so much more succinctly, that I copy it here. The issue, as Jacobs notes, isn’t really about arming teachers. The issue is what kind of society are we trying to create.

But what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.

Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)

Is this really the best we can do? It might be if we lived in, say, the world described by Cormac McCarthy in The Road. But we don’t. Our social order is flawed, but by no means bankrupt. Most of us live in peace and safety without the use of guns. It makes more sense to try to make that social order safer and safer, more and more genuinely peaceful, rather than descend voluntarily into a world governed by paranoia, in which one can only feel safe — or, really, “safe” — with cold steel strapped to one’s ribcage.

Peace.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

One Response to Good Morning. My Name is Ms. Smith and I’m Packing Heat

  1. sagescenery says:

    As a teacher who was asked to “monitor,” without a gun…the front doors in our middle school front lobby, after Columbine…to ward off intruders, I felt I was no deterrent at all! But, I assure you, I do NOT want to pack a gun!! It’s a stupid idea for all the reasons you stated!!

    Instead of talking about the weapon of choice, (in this day & age, I’m sure many weapons are available…a baseball bat is available)…can we talk about WHY the young gunman had so much instability, hate, bitterness, and rage…so that he took the weapon & used it on innocent children and adults?????

    I’ve taught for 26 years, and I’m teaching part time now while retired, and I see anger in our society in young children that is not addressed!! I’ve had 5th graders in my classes that were angry…WHY?…childhood should be the easiest part of their lives…frustrated kids turn into even more highly frustrated adults!

    I have a 22 year old son…if he had displayed such tendencies at a young age, I would react, not just turn a blind eye…

    Keep posting I’m enjoying your perspectives!!

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Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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