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Masturbating with Metal: Gun Culture and the Fantasy of the Armed Teacher

Regardless of license and experience, arming classroom teachers is a recipe for disaster.

I want to be clear here: There are always exceptions to every stance. However, as a former special education teacher of at-risk children and adults (gang members, drug addicts and alcoholics, and the “severely emotionally disturbed”—not a personal judgement, but a population designation for those unaware), dynamics in such classrooms would severely jeopardize the safety of both students and educators if the latter are allowed to open carry while teaching.

Most recent school shootings, however, have not emanated from special education classrooms, nor from students under that banner.

Mainstream students—primarily Caucasian, and in some cases privileged—have most frequently perpetrated these crimes. This only adds another level of complexity to these tragedies.

That said, though this may ultimately become a voluntary effort, I strongly believe that the majority of our nation's teachers would be psychologically ill-equipped to handle the responsibility.

My teaching experience totaled nearly 11 years. During my final year in the profession, I was assaulted by one of my students. He was an intelligent kid with no supportive family unit, as well as a natural leader—an innate quality cultivated from months of survival on the streets of downtown Los Angeles after his father was jailed for armed robbery.

The son ran away from home before his father turned himself in.

The year was 2003. My physical conditioning, though notable at the time, will prove moot in the context of what follows...

My student, one of 16, had issues with drugs, alcohol, and rage. He was consistently fighting and he had been suspended more than once.

One day in the classroom, he started pacing back and forth. I was still seated, and found out later that he had tested positive for meth. He asked the other students—save for one—to stand and back off; they complied.

He asked the remaining student to block the door. That student complied... then I lost sight of him. Imagine what was going through my mind at that moment.

I’ll help: Chaos.

The aggressor told me to shut my mouth, and not say a word. I asked him to sit down. He repeated his words. I repeated mine. He then took my desk and tried to flip it, and then balled his fist and slugged me in the jaw.

I stood up, and immediately said, “I’m pressing charges.” He tried to slug me again, but a crisis interventionist—a school employee trained to handle incidents such as this—managed to enter the room and restrain him.

The student who was asked to block the door told me after the incident that he ran out and called for the interventionist. When he was asked to block the door, he took advantage to help me.

About 30 minutes later, I sat in the cop car with the student who assaulted me. He was sobbing and apologetic.

He said through tears, “Of all people I can’t believe I did that to you.”

This student and I had a bond. I told him I forgave him, but the charges will remain as he needed to learn some tough lessons.

Here’s how I really felt: I wanted to knock him on his ass. He was considerably taller and heavier than me, but I‘m a fighter by nature. I was ready to go. But I also had control, barely. I don’t believe everybody would have. If the crisis interventionist did not come in, I may well have defended myself.

Because I’m human.

And that’s the point. Teachers are human. Arming teachers with guns, even voluntarily, is a sure recipe for disaster. I doubt that the majority of teachers would be able to psychologically handle it. Conflicts are common. As my brother said, “Can you imagine my wife (a teacher) with a gun? Me neither.”

It will never happen, nor should it. Armed guards, sure. Metal detectors, sure.

Teachers? Hell no.

For those who believe more guns would help, you really need to look at the psychological factor here. No one who argues the cause, regardless of political affiliation, celebrates a new school shooting. Most seem to mean well. And too many of those who argue about arming teachers do not understand the dynamic of running a classroom. They do not understand the psychological tug of war when it comes to wanting even the most difficult of students to succeed—regardless of your personal feelings toward them.

But, more importantly, they simply do not seem to grasp the emotions of being a teacher. Carrying a gun in class may well blur the outcome of a simple conflict. Further, a student could take the gun; a shot could go awry.

Some may take offense at this comment, but I stand by it: There is far too much to lose by arming teachers. It is far too great a risk.

Let’s get those budgets properly handled for real security, but never ask for a teacher to be put into a position where they are responsible for pulling a trigger on a student. Arming an educator doesn’t solve this scourge. There would be far too many psychological conflicts there, and the average teacher would be vulnerable to a stronger child.

To the obvious retort here, no one is aiming to take away your Second Amendment protections, and to infer so is idiocy. Cops, farmers, the military, and those who hunt for their food... they need their guns. I’m not arguing that.

This is not a moral issue. It’s a safety issue.

A teacher is trained to educate. That responsibility is tough enough. Allow them to focus on their jobs, and let’s pressure those decision-makers who can influence real and lasting change. Neither “prayers” nor “best thoughts” will end the madness.

Some countries outside of the US arm their teachers as a rule. If you want to, send your student to a military zone every morning—go ahead. Please do so.

I prefer my wars, and my Wild West, on television.

Intelligence, not emotion, should dictate our actions on the matter.

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