Guns in Schools
In the early 1990s I got a phone call from a teacher that I had worked with. He did not think that he could get up in front of a class again. A student had tried to shoot him and instead another student was dead. He had called home on the shooter the day before to let the boy’s parents know their son needed to work harder. The shooter brought a .357 to school the next day and shot a bullet through his backpack, hitting the rib of the student in front of him, then fragmenting in two with a piece shattering the chalkboard next to the teacher and the other fragment piercing the heart of another student. In his initial statement the shooter said that he took the gun from a family member because he was scared on his way to the school. He claimed he found the ammo on the street and was turning down his Walkman in the backpack when the gun went off. I am familiar with double action .357s like the one used and the trigger isn’t easy to pull. I consoled the teacher and eventually he made his way back to the classroom.
When I was teaching in that large city we had our share of lockdowns. A former student was shot and killed outside the main office over a dispute about the pay telephone. We were locked upstairs for hours as the sirens wailed and the helicopters circled. We had no idea what was going on. Another time they told us that a student had killed himself in the bathroom. Another teaching day shot to hell. One day I excused a girl from my class because her boyfriend, a former student, was hit in the back with a shotgun while he was walking next to the tennis courts. He came to the school nurse and asked her to remove the pellets from his back. I could tell you more, but I think you get the picture. These are some of the problems of teaching in a large city.
To get to the point, we always had two armed school police on campus. They were police, and had received training from the sheriff’s department. They carried guns on holsters, strapped there in plain view. Did this stop any “bad guys”? No. Did the armed guard at Columbine stop the massacre? No. Will the NRA proposal to put armed guards in schools help? No. This is a problem in our society. Too many guns means that they are too easy to get and use. Having armed guards in schools teaches students that guns confer more power on an individual than education does. During the L.A. riots we lost a week of school. What does that do to the test scores? I was thinking about buying a gun then. Of course I would also need a gun safe. Better than a gun, would be a society that worked and cooperated with each other instead of competing with each other. This is why I teach.
I have had my share of breaking up fights and beatings. I have also had my share of students killed with guns off campus, like the student who was riddled with bullets from an AK-47 while he was in the back of a station wagon. I had a student who shot and killed herself because her mother told her she was fat and stupid. There were many others who were not in my classes, but who died from guns. My point is that there are too many guns and they are too easy to get. We need background checks for all gun sales. We need to ban sales of military type assault weapons and large magazines for existing ones. We need trigger locks and gun safes for all weapons. Otherwise most guns will get stolen, used in an argument, used for suicide or cause a fatal accident. Having police with guns in schools sends out the message that guns are the answer when they are really the problem.