Today Vice President Biden began his gun violence listening sessions, a series of conversations at the White House with people to build consensus over what to do about this problem. But while they take on this slow but important work, one small town in Utah is taking matters into their own hands. Officials in Spring City, Utah want to make sure every household in their town is armed. And they want to train schoolteachers how to use guns, too.
This just makes me sad. More than anything else, this urge people have to arm themselves to the teeth is depressing. When I see headlines like this, I fear our country is descending into an irrational, violence-obsessed nightmare. But I was relieved to read that not everyone in Spring City thinks this is the best plan.
The idea of arming households and teachers came from city councilman Neil Sorensen. He proposed a city ordinance that would make sure the head of every household was armed and trained, and would train teachers how to use firearms as well. "It sends a statement that criminals better think twice," he said. "If a teacher would have had a concealed weapon in Sandy Hook, I think the death loss would have been fewer. If sane, trained people had guns, they could have shot back."
It sounds like Sorensen is agreeing with NRA President Wayne LaPierre's idea of arming schools. It's an idea that makes me nervous -- because if you really think it through, the logic just doesn't hold.
Adam Lanza had a collection of guns with him, including a semi-automatic rifle. So we should arm teachers with semi-automatic rifles, too? But wouldn't a teacher have to keep it locked up and unloaded in order to keep it safe from the students? So what then -- someone storms the school and teachers are fumbling with closet locks, loading guns ... And will the knowledge that teachers may be armed really deter a deranged gunman? Doesn't that assume the gunman is a rational person, in which case, why would he attack a school in the first place? Not to mention the escalation of this imaginary armed war between schools and evil invaders -- this cannot be our best solution. We can do better, can't we?
And it's also ridiculous to require the head of every household to keep a firearm. What if you don't want guns in your home -- at all? What about those people's freedom?
Fortunately, the Spring City council rejected Sorensen's proposed ordinance. They're working on an ordinance "recommending" the idea instead -- so at least no one is forcing anyone to have guns. Good grief.
As for the school district, teachers are not being encouraged to attend a firearm training session on Friday. Superintendent Leslie Keisel says, "The more guns you have in the school, the more dangerous it is." At it happens, Spring City has only a part-time police force. So I can see how they might want more protection. But we are creative, enterprising people. Surely we can come up with better solutions that make sense and that bring out the best in all of us, peacefully.
Do you think guns in schools make them more dangerous, or safer?
Image via mbush_utah/Flickr