On Arming Teachers
Well, it’s happened again. At Umpqua Community College, in my old stomping grounds, Roseburg, Oregon, nine people died when an unbalanced shooter opened fire. As can only be expected, nothing is going to come of this insofar as reasonable regulations of guns in America is concerned.
How do I know? Well, just look at history. There used to be an argument over whether the second amendment to the U.S. constitution, which reads ”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” was intended to protect the right of an individual to own a gun, or the right of a militia to be independent of the federal government.
In what is now referred to simply as the Heller Decision, the supreme court weighed in on this matter by saying it guaranteed the right of the individual to own a gun. There are some remaining fine points, but that is the current law of the land. The right to own a gun cannot be restricted by governments within the United States. There are a few exceptions, but they are minor. The second amendment can routinely be appealed to to dispute government’s efforts to get involved.
The fact is that, so long as irrational and self-interested people are involved in this debate, there is no hope for a rational resolution if one side is able to appeal to protection from the second amendment of the constitution. The court’s Heller Decision makes the only option left to those of us who argue against the gun-wielders is the repeal of the second amendment.
There is no hope for the simple reason that self-interested people want the protections of the second amendment. As it stands now, they have that protection. I guess you could also blame it partly upon the irrational component, as well, but I find it hard to blame those who are apt to think the diversionary arguments may have validity. Most people are not likely to think the cure suggested by the NRA, for instance, is full of holes.
What they suggest, of course, is guns in the hands of the “good guys.” It’s no surprise that the NRA always sees the solution as involving more, not fewer, guns. They make more money that way. But let’s look at just one aspect of the suggestion. Who could be safer than the teacher to carry a gun in the process of protecting his/her class from a “bad guy” with a gun? No one, right? Can the NRA be wrong in suggesting teachers should be granted,automatically, the authorization to carry a weapon?
Well, let’s think about that for a minute.
For several years as a student at UCD I worked as the coordinator of a program that trained teachers in ghetto schools in the Sacramento area. I was in the math department at the time, and not connected in any way to the Education Department. One of the most startling things about the Education Department at that time, in my view, was the difficulty they seemed to have addressing the issue of doing discipline. They never used the term “discipline,” in fact. It was always “classroom control.” Now, if you are afraid of the word “discipline,” you will never teach anyone “classroom control.”
So I wound up spending a lot of time thinking about discipline. It was, by far, the most common reason behind the astounding fact that fewer than 45% of new teachers remained in teaching five years later. Things are supposedly better now, but I am not claiming to be up on recent practices. Whether it’s better now or not, the basic understanding I came to at that time is still true: behind the teacher stands the Principal, behind him/her stands the police, behind them the national guard, and behind them the army. There is no lack of authority here.
The current practice here is clear: when a student attempts to disobey a teacher, he/she is sent to the office, where the authority of the Principal, often as administered by the Vice Principal, is invoked to dish out further disciplinary activity to make the student comply. The manner in which this authority is exercised varies as the Principal deems fit. The genius of this system is the early involvement of an outsider in the confrontation. Give the teacher a gun, and the whole dynamic changes. This is true no matter what your motivation in originally giving the teacher the gun may have been.
One thing that is clear to someone like myself, who has worked in disciplinary situations for years, is that arming teachers would be a horrible mistake. There is no disciplinary action a teacher can take, that some student will not eventually attempt to disobey, including being sent to the office.
Give teachers guns and teachers will be shooting ordinary students. NRA disclaimers or not.