Just because it’s been quiet for while…doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. While the issue of gun control has been eclipsed by other political issues (the government shut down and the wall) according to a New York Times article, Trump’s educational secretary , Betsy DeVos, is considering if she can use some federal dollars for ‘improving school conditions’ to buy firearms.
And who will be carrying those weapons?
Will it be armed security guards?
I’m not sure what the government is planning but I know what some teachers are doing.
They’re signing up for a course called FASTER Saves Lives. It’s a three day “active-killer’ response course where school staff members learn how to carry a gun and…how to shoot to kill.
Jay Willis was curious about how many teachers are already armed and wrote about the experience of attending the course here.
During the course he was instructed that the police are not helpful since, typically, they are not at the scene when the event occurs. He was told that you have no choice but to fight.
Clearly, this is serious business.
The course provides crisis management and even emergency medical treatment for life-threatening injuries. Oh, and they do SWAT styled drills that allow them to "stop school violence rapidly". With the exception of my high school biology teacher, who was also a football coach, I’m having trouble picturing any of my former teachers doing this exercise.
I may not be able to imagine sweet Mrs. Strickland pumping bullets into a target but times have changed. Since the school shooting at Parkland, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which uses donations to provide scholarships, has been overwhelmed with requests to participate in the course.
Willis’ article is quick to remind you that this is not a video-game exercise. He states that when those teachers miss their targets and dust flies up when the rounds hit the nearby hillside, an ex-cop calls out “The dirt represents the CHILDREN. I don’t want to see any DIRT.”
Think about that for a moment.
Every year, I hear a story about a police officer that pulls the trigger and some innocent person dies as a result. I’m not here to judge. There is no way I could, in a million years, do that job. What I’m saying is that these teachers are so desperate that they’re taking this on…even knowing that trained professionals make mistakes and that they could possibly injure or even kill a child while they’re trying to save other children.
The debate on gun control is over for those participants taking the course. They’ve chosen to take matters in their own hands despite the emotional and economic cost to them (a Smith &Wesson 9mm handgun cost one teacher $500 dollars).
But what about the teachers here in our community? How do they feel? I asked a teacher that I’ve known for several years now some hard questions. She was okay with me using her name…but I decided that, based on how complicated this topic can be…it might be best if she remains anonymous.
Do teachers still worry about school shooters or does the anxiety go down the further we get away from the last shooting episode?
Teachers worry about school shootings all the time. I think a lot of it depends on where you teach and the type of students you interact with that informs how much you worry about it. It seems to be the affluent, primarily Caucasian school districts and schools where these shootings happen. I worry. I worry because this is precisely the type of school I teach at. I think that the worry actually grows with each school shooting. It seems like they become more and more frequent and it seems as though there is little to nothing being done about it. Often I think teachers feel like sitting ducks.
What would you (and other teachers) like to see done about the threat of school shooters?
Wow, that is a complicated question with a multifaceted answer. I think it begins with strong, heavily regulated safety measures for each school. At the educational level, this is really all we can do. We can encourage students to treat others with respect, we can encourage them to take care of each other, and we can model that behavior, but at the end of the day keeping our campus secure is the only practical way to keep out these dangers BY THE SCHOOL. However, the reality is reducing access to guns is going to have the most impact. We can’t legislate good parenting. We can’t legislate morality. We can legislate access to guns. We can also require people to have to attend training and carry a license to own a gun. You have to have a license to drive a car—and it is not an INTENDED deadly weapon. It can kill, but that is not it sole intent.
What are some possible solutions you’ve heard about?
Increased training for teachers and students to recognize issues. Practical drills on reducing casualties. But, increasing school security and really, reducing access to guns—make it harder for people to buy large magazines for weapons and ban assault rifles. I am a gun owner. I support the right to own a gun, but NO ONE NEEDS AN AR-15! This is a weapon designed to tear through human flesh. Period. It is MUCH easier and more efficient to kill a large number of people with a gun like an AR-15 than a shotgun.
The issue of gun control is a hot mess. It doesn’t look like we can expect any resolution for this issue in the near future. Do most teachers have the same opinion on gun control or is the debates just as dramatic in the schools as outside the schools?
This is Texas, so the debate is big even amongst teachers. Some feel that we need to carry weapons. I AM WHOLLY opposed to this. At best, police officer are accurate with their shooting, when under duress, about 25% of the time. I do not want a partially trained civilian, in a terrifying, life threatening situation firing a weapon anywhere near me. This is NOT the answer. But, yes. There is as much disagreement amongst us as there is in the country as a whole.
Why is the happening in the first place?
Well, I need days to write about that. Why is it happening? Because kids are unhealthier and unhappier then they have ever been. They are staring into screens all day watching people hurt each other and playing video games where they shoot people. Their parents don’t talk to them. They are overmedicated, under-parented, and overstimulated. They eat like crap and they never go outside. The access to technology, I truly feel, is a huge part of this. People aren’t connecting with each other. We don’t look at each other in the face. We don’t spend time just BEING in each other’s company. The desire for constant entertainment has turned is into zombies who have been desensitized. Add the increased use of drugs and alcohol and access to high power firearms and you have this horrific epidemic we are in now. I truly do not know the answer. But I do know that if we don’t to something soon, I may start having to wear a flak jacket to work.
I want to finish with a thought I had after listening to a sermon last week. There’s been a lot of scorn for the words “thoughts and prayers” when it comes to school shootings--but I was reminded just how powerful prayer really is.
“Thoughts and prayers” can’t be just words…they have to be actions.
We have to think through the situation logically and pray that we find a solution before any more children are murdered.