Would it really be such a bad thing if we stocked our schools with guns? School systems routinely ask taxpayers for money to buy new computers, textbooks, and staff development training -- I propose sticking a line item in the annual education budgets for staff firearms training. Who loves the thought of this? Absolutely no one. I support gun rights and it sickens me that it's come to this, but you know what? It's come to this. I can't help wonder if Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, or another trained staffer at Sandy Hook Elementary School had had access to some kind of weapon, that initial confrontation with Adam Lanza in the front hallway might have gone down differently. If educators at that school had had guns and were trained in how to use them, we might be having a totally different conversation today and 26 beautiful, precious lives may still be inhabiting this earth.
You always go through a litany of ifs and maybes after a tragic event like this. If Hochsprung had had a gun, maybe she could have shot Adam Lanza in that hallway, before he even managed to enter a classroom. Maybe she would have shot at him and missed, and taken a bullet herself, but the mere attempt could have caused him to panic and shoot himself before taking another innocent life. The rumor is that Lanza had enough ammunition to take out the entire school, but that he shot himself as soon as he got indication that first responders had entered the building. Maybe the knowledge that schools kept weapons on hand would have deterred him from even going there in the first place.
You cannot force a teacher to arm herself or to even learn to use a gun if she doesn't want to. It's not like you could just add a mandatory gun course to her college curriculum. Using a gun or even being in the same room as one cannot be forced. You need to have the confidence and willingness to operate a gun and pull the trigger if you need to. That's just not a part of everyone's DNA. (Staffing all schools with an armed police officer is also an option here, and is in use at many schools already.)
But I'm willing to bet that there would have been at least one teacher in that school who would have gladly taken on the job as "safety officer" or some such designated title for the school, in the same way that staff are appointed "safety wardens" in the case of fire drills and evacuations.
One of those teachers would have agreed to -- in complete conjunction with the local police department -- take a course, undergo extensive background checks, and be given a key to a locked compartment, where no kids have access, to a weapon that could be used against intruders like Adam Lanza. After what happened on December 14, I'd bet anything you'd find at least one willing teacher at every school.
We can take guns away from the Nancy Lanzas of the world, and even cut down on the amount of illegal firearms on the streets. But the sick, angry, evil Adam Lanzas of the world will still find another way. They will build a bomb from the Internet or use knives or their car. They will continue to come for our kids whether we take all the guns away or not.
So, yeah, let's get illegal guns away from criminals and restrict legal access to assault weapons and anything else we need to do to lessen the chances of a massacre like this from happening again. But then let's ensure it NEVER happens again by putting those same guns into the hands of our teachers. And pray they never, ever have to use them.
Do you support giving guns to our teachers?
Image via zombieite/Flickr