A little bit of our collective national innocence was taken last week when a lone gunman went into one of the few places of relative safety–an elementary school– and killed 20 children and 6 school staff. We were horrified. And outraged. How could this happen? We’d seen it happen in the workplace, in malls, in movie theaters, churches, colleges, and even in high schools, but not in an elementary school!
We went through several days of heartbreaking interviews and images of children running from the school, parents reuniting with their children, and parents weeping for their children. The cry for responsible gun control began anew just as it always does around these types of incidents. But there was new talk from old corners. Many staunch supporters of the Second Amendment right to bear arms as well as avowed gun enthusiasts began to call for more regulations and sensible restrictions. High profile and highly-regarded NRA members began to say that something needed to be done. Several days passed before the National Rifle Association came out with a statement.
In a move that should have surprised everyone and no one, the National Rifle Association wants to put armed guards in every school in America. Their position is that we have armed guards for elected officials, movie stars, at airports, etc. then why not for those we love the most?
Most of us went ballistic. I was one of them. I happen to be an elementary school teacher and have been for many decades. I have also worked in middle schools, high schools, and on a college campus. My first visceral reaction was to think about my school and my class and how that might affect day-to-day-functioning. Guns…in an elementary school!? Are they kidding?
Then I began to really think about it objectively:
1. We have school resource officers as well as policeman in and out of our building anyway. What would be different about hiring or having someone full time? Or part time? You can tailor that to meet the school’s needs.
2. I have worked in a high school that had a police officer assigned to the school and it was a positive experience in that the students knew someone in law enforcement that was friendly and helpful and there to protect.
3. It could potentially put thousands of individuals to work in schools and at football games, dances, etc. There are many ex-police officers, security guards, veterans, etc. that could fill those positions.
I am not necessarily a fan of guns or the NRA. I do have a military background and am not uncomfortable around them. I also don’t know if that is the perfect solution, but it is A solution that could be easy to implement.
I think the thing that many would object to is the idea of guns being in elementary school. We live in the kind of society where guns will remain available with or without regulation. We have a “wild west” sort of mentality when it comes to them and we are endlessly fascinated by them. We have to learn how to manage their use by the responsible and mitigate the use of them by those who mean only harm.
There are some who say that these these types of attacks will certainly increase with the proliferation of the mentally ill among us. Maybe it won’t be such a bad thing to have someone responsible carrying a gun into an elementary school.