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You may want to NOT "take the last train to Clarksville"!
July 30, 2013 7:57 PM   Subscribe

The local school district in Clarksville, Arkansas will be arming 20 school employees.

In preparation for the opening of school in the fall, each teacher involved received 53 hours of training from Nighthawk Custom Training. In addition to the $50,000 spent for training and ammunition (the district did not divulge how much of the $50,000 was for training, and how much was spent on ammunition), each teacher involved also received a stipend of over $1,000 to purchase a handgun and a holster.

This action, in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook means that Clarksville will join, among others, the Newcomerstown school district in Ohio and the Canadian Independent School District (ironically, in Texas) as having armed teachers.

On a side note, insurance companies in Kansas, are refusing to provide coverage for schools that take advantage of the new law in that state.
posted by HuronBob (126 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with this plan.
posted by xingcat at 8:18 PM on July 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


In the annals of history vis-à-vis public schooling (I am a byproduct of the public school system), this feels a lot like something that would be in the "Outtakes & Bloopers" section on a DVD.

But which DVD? My guess is either Beavis & Butthead or Idiocracy, where they filmed these whole bits with armed school employees, but then in the cutting room were like "Man, it's pretty crazy and funny, but I don't think anybody will get it - it's just too niche."
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


- it's just too niche.

You're in too close. From back here it looks catching.
posted by de at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2013


Reading that article made me sad. This seems like a good deal today because it's cheaper to hire a teacher who can double as a security guard. But following this logic, one day it will become apparent that it is even cheaper to hire a security guard who can double as a teacher. That will be the death of education for our children.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


"The plan we've been given in the past is `Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."


Maybe it's not a macho plan, but it's one that probably won't result in a teacher somehow mistakenly shooting a student.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


These will take more lives than they will save, through suicide, accident or theft for resale to criminals who usually live in big cities far away.

If a lunatic with a semi-auto "tactical" or "combat" rifle (no such thing as an assault rifle, if you ask your local gun nut) comes into the school, the control, penetrating power and capacity of his weapon means he will more than likely mow down anyone who tries to shoot it out with him.

This is a great victory for gun manufacturers and mercenary outfits looking for some cash between wars training schoolteachers how to wage war in their schools.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


"I know what you're thinking: 'What's the square root of 225, and how do I figure it out?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, what with the cops and robbers roleplaying we just did in the school halls, I kind of forgot myself. But being as this is a EAA SAR B6P 9MM, the cheapest handgun I could buy with my stipend because the wife said the fancier holster made me look slimmer, and would put at least two holes through you before jamming, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Why didn't I do my homework?' Well, why didn't ya...punk?"
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:29 PM on July 30, 2013 [38 favorites]


"If they're concealed, then it's no big deal," said Whitkanack, who was an actor in the training scenario. "It's not like someone's going to know `Oh, they have a firearm.'"

Hint: That cranky English teacher who used to wear polo shirts, but now wears a sport coat to class? He's carrying.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


But following this logic, one day it will become apparent that it is even cheaper to hire a security guard who can double as a teacher. That will be the death of education for our children.
posted by justkevin at 8:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


We had some highly trained CCL holders have a shootout in the freeway in Milwaukee recently.

I can see this ending well.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:38 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recall, as a junior high school student, when I confronted Mr. Eichelberger over the contents of my locker.

For some idiot reason, never explained to us "kids," we were marched out to our lockers and ordered to open the lock and do nothing else.

Being an intelligent child, I took the opportunity to not only open my locker, but to put my books inside.

Outrage! Mr. Eichelberger, an elderly counselor, dragged me aside and shouted at me. "Who do you think you are!" he thundered as he dragged me away.

"Um. Books. Locker," I mumbled.

Looking back, this was the first moment I saw insanity in the eyes of an adult. I have no idea what the "locker inspection" was about. I had no idea what was going on. But I saw madness in the face of a grown-up that day.

And you want to give this man a weapon. And a reason to use it against a child.

And these guns will be used against children. You can bank on that.
posted by SPrintF at 8:39 PM on July 30, 2013 [35 favorites]


Sir, you need to step away from the blackboard...
posted by mattoxic at 8:43 PM on July 30, 2013


If Arkansas passed a "Stand Your Ground" statute, I wonder what the implications would be...

First line on the Nighthawk's website: "We're here to make you a better shooter...not just make your gun go bang!" At least they are not teaching the English classes, yet.
posted by Kaiverus at 8:44 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


SPrintF makes an excellent point. I've seen that look as well, from an educators perspective. I've seen teachers that scared the hell out of me.

With the defunding of education, the scapegoating and abuse of teachers, the degradation of parenting in this country, and the overall tension around violence, there WILL be an incident precipitated by the chronic frustration and anger that educators feel.
posted by HuronBob at 8:44 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Please tell me at least 20% of students' parents have immediately dis enrolled their children from public school in Clarksville. I can't even imagine sending my kids to spend every day with a teacher holding a loaded weapon. I can't even imagine there are other parents in the world that are totally fucked in the head that they'd go along with this.

Fuck it all. Just fuck. How many more kids will finish school full of anger and hate and desensitized to violence being a part of their every day lives? Seriously, how in holy fuck does this not end with more young people getting shot and taking shots?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:45 PM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


To put my concerns into a nutshell: Arming teachers can only be effective if the teachers are mentally prepared to gun down the children in their care and the children know it.
posted by baf at 8:53 PM on July 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Considering the number of depressed teens around, and the desperate and stupid things that kids in general and those with mental issues in particular will do, this sounds like a great way to arrange for a "suicide by teacher/janitor" - you don't even need to find a cop to wave your knife around in front of.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:54 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Another heroic victory for America's pro-people-getting-shot lobby.
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks to this post's title, I got a bit sidetracked (pun intended) and I don't know if I'm ever coming back.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:01 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


On my way to read the articles, may I stop and say that I wish I could get reimbursed for $1000 of educational materials!?
posted by MsDaniB at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2013 [46 favorites]


"suicide by teacher/janitor"

Sadly, you may find that you were the first one to coin that term/phrase.
posted by HuronBob at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


On my way to read the articles, may I stop and say that I wish I could get reimbursed for $1000 of educational materials!?

Nobody has a fetish for those.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I would hope that any teachers permitted to carry are given a very, very thorough test on examples of situations and appropriate responses: a) mediation b) non-violent verbal warning of consequences c) unarmed physical intervention d) weapon-related warming e) unsheathing one's weapon f) brandishing it e) shooting

But I afraid that the training, much like math class, will only give examples of unambiguous problems with obvious solutions. Worse, the answers to more nuanced examples might be more frightening.

And I hope that someone gets across to those kids that the world is not out to get them for going to school, lethal force is not needed to go about one's day, and that having it does not make them safe.
posted by desuetude at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


But I afraid that the training, much like math class, will only give examples of unambiguous problems with obvious solutions. Worse, the answers to more nuanced examples might be more frightening.

We all know how that works.
posted by Artw at 9:13 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


As I read that "$50,000 for training and ammunition", I spent a long time thinking about the discussion that took place to allocate those funds.

Board Member 1: "I make a motion that we allocate $50,000 to Blackwater Nighthawk for training and ammo!"
Board Member 2: "George, how much of that is going towards ammo?"
Board Member 1: "Well, training is about $800 per teacher, we're sending 20 art, music, and kindergarten teachers, so that will be about $16,000 for the training."
Board Member 3: "Is there a math teacher here tonight?"
Math Teacher: "That leaves $34,000 for ammunition"
Board Member 2: "20 rounds of 9mm ammo is about $30, so $34,000 will buy a little over 22,000 rounds"
Board Member 2: "I reckon that will be enough. I mean, after all, how many kids are they going to need to shoot?"
posted by HuronBob at 9:17 PM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would hope that any teachers permitted to carry are given a very, very thorough test on examples of situations and appropriate responses

ahhh.. you might want to read NightHawk's website, 'cuz that's not exactly the focus of their training... :-\
posted by HuronBob at 9:19 PM on July 30, 2013


Whenever I hear about the Arming Teachers Asshattery, I immediately think of my 4th-5th grade music teacher, who was one of those crew-cutted semi-fuming "life has not exactly worked out for me as planned" guys on a good day, but on this one day in 1969, he said we could bring in 45s of songs we liked, to play in class, and when "Hair" by the Cowsills was playing and got to the "Oh say, can you see" bit, he completely LOST his SHIT about how DISRESPECTFUL that was and what INGRATES we were and . . .

well, I'm awfully glad he wasn't packing heat is all. Good luck and godspeed, children of Clarksville, Arkansas.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:20 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Board Member 2: "20 rounds of 9mm ammo is about $30, so $34,000 will buy a little over 22,000 rounds"
Board Member 2: "I reckon that will be enough. I mean, after all, how many kids are they going to need to shoot?"


Well, presumably they'll be hitting the range on a regular basis and be getting through a lot of kid-shaped paper targets keeping the old reflexes sharp.
posted by Artw at 9:20 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. kid-shaped paper targets
2. Profit

Folks, I have a business plan...
posted by HuronBob at 9:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


22,000 rounds of ammo, eh? Considering the stories that go around about schools not being able to afford chalk, it could be reasonably expected for teachers to fire into blackboards and other surfaces to make letters and numbers with bullet holes, like you can do on Counter Strike maps.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's beyond satire. They won't pay teachers to teach but they'll pay to arm them. This could only come from the party who believes unswervingly in the sanctity of life as long as it's not born yet.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


For the kids there's Project Appleseed, lets not say Nighthawk Custom Training doesn't give both sides a fighting chance.

Um, is their owner on the school board or something? That's an awful lot of money they'll be getting.
posted by Artw at 9:27 PM on July 30, 2013


I freely admit that my hatred and fear of public school teachers may be completely unreasonable, but I think a student will end up dead within a year.

Thought my time in public school I am convinced that a few teachers are sadists, moments away from snapping at any given moment. The rest of them stand by and watch it happen.

I hope they do some kind of psychological profiling because I wouldn't want any of the teachers that bullied me to have a gun. Instead of getting hit with rulers, shoved against walls, or suspended for wearing a coat indoors I might have ended up getting pistol whipped.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:32 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Since they'll never give raises to teachers, this does offer hope for an alternative form of compensation. Bounties!
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just in case nobody else here mentions it...

That happy, jangly song by The Monkees is actually about a man about to be shipped off to Vietnam and who is asking his wife or girlfriend to catch the train so they can have one last night together before he leaves, as he is not sure if he's going to come back from the war or not.

Yeah, The Monkees had a dark core. Listen to their lyrics more closely.
posted by hippybear at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


CNN is running a story about this. At the end, the interviewer tells the superintendent that he hopes it is a "safe operation."

I hope that was meant as a subtle editorial jab. Because going back to school is not normally the sort of scenario where you use the phrase "safe operation." I wonder if he considered advising the superintendent to "stay frosty out there."
posted by justkevin at 9:58 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Check those time-out corners..."
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:02 PM on July 30, 2013


Many Americans don't trust teachers enough to actually teach their kids, but apparently trust them enough to protect them with a loaded weapon in school? How do peoples' heads not asplode?
posted by rtha at 10:10 PM on July 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


After Sandy Hook, I unfriended a tiny kindergarten teacher who claimed on facebook that, if she was allowed to be armed, she would have stopped the shooter. I had so many arguments. What about body armor? What about your kids? Locking the door and shutting the hell up are not terrible ideas when compared to opening a door to an armed person and leaving twenty kids (I don't care if they're 5 or 15) to their own devices.

Good lord, this is the last straw. I'll spend an hour a day calling parents, a few hours a day on the weekends grading papers, hours planning and reading books and blogs to get ideas, my own money on pencils and notecards and books and a scanner (so I can illegally distribute materials I can't afford to buy for my kids), more hours at extracurricular activities, but jeez, now I'm expected to get trained on gun use and safety (and retrained, right? CPR certification only lasts like a year, this should be similar.) and make snap decisions with a lethal weapon?
It's a bit much.

Honestly, teaching is decision after decision after decision (.7 per minute or 1200-1500 per day during classes) made by someone who's really tired. If (and that's a big if) someone needs to carry a gun in school, that responsibility and the education and practice that should come with it needs to be the main part of that job.
posted by MsDaniB at 10:12 PM on July 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


So much Freedom!
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:20 PM on July 30, 2013


MsDaniB... thanks for that link....
posted by HuronBob at 10:21 PM on July 30, 2013


Also, regarding disenrolling students as Slarty Bartfast suggested above: Lots of parents and families have no other options. It would surely send a strong message to a board that depends on enrollment numbers to fund this ridiculous program, but it's not something many families are able to do, especially in non-urban areas that may not have charters or other districts within reasonable transportation range.
posted by MsDaniB at 10:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if phase II is Extraordinary Detention? Bet they have some mighty effective "study halls" in Syria and Uzbekistan.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish I could get reimbursed for $1000 of educational materials

Hey, Communist, yer pinko "educational" materials ain't in the Constimatution, are they now, bucko? Guns are more important. Guns can be taught in class. Guns can be used to teach them chirens how to FEAR.

My guess is actually a student swiping a gun from his teacher and shooting her or himself with it, not the other way around.
posted by Fnarf at 10:40 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


That cranky English teacher who used to wear polo shirts, but now wears a sport coat to class? He's carrying.

I see you knew my 7th grade English teacher.

Not only am I pretty sure he was carrying, my entire class knew that if we wanted to sidetrack him, all we had to do was bring up something even tangentially related to firearms.


I was doing student teaching at a high school from January through May back in 2000. I thought about school shootings, and if I should be armed. There were certainly a few students who made me uneasy. I recognized the idea that I could easily pick out exactly who the possible-bad apples were going to be was a questionable one, and that my hour long freeway commute in often wintery conditions offered me considerably more exposure to mortal peril than I was likely to ever face in a classroom. But Columbine was still fresh, shocking, and on everybody's mind, and there'd been a few public shootings nearby including one that had happened at my Dad's office building. So... I did think about coming to school packing.

I also think I knew I wasn't prepared to handle that at the time.

But if I were to go back to teaching, I might well be interested in doing what it takes to get prepared -- which I think for me would be about working out the logistics of making sure that the weapon was *never ever* accessible or a danger to a student, making sure I was skilled at using and meticulously managing it, and keeping my own psychology level.

I'm not sure I'd begrudge other school staff that opportunity either.

On the other hand, if we're making matters of blanket policy... I think there's probably better places to start than arming some two-dozen odd staff. Make classrooms more securable. Get gunshot recognition / alarm / pinpointing systems into buildings and campuses (heck, have the CS/electronics students build them). And as far as weapons go, start with non-lethals for most staff that want to participate, and have both a clear policy and certification for managing *those*. Then at some point once that's in play and nobody's done anything stupid for a while, offer a smaller number of more-certified/scrutinized staff the chance to carry the hard stuff. Possibly with the policy that even using them in a completely justified situation would mean a suspension, just so everyone's clear.
posted by weston at 10:42 PM on July 30, 2013


Call me callous, but it just seems like any armed guard would just be the very first person of many shot in the head by surprise by a rampager. And then not only would he be another casualty, but a new vector of menacing for the shooter, who could collect the weapon and whatever keys/radio/gear.
posted by planetesimal at 10:54 PM on July 30, 2013


In addition to the $50,000 spent for training and ammunition (the district did not divulge how much of the $50,000 was for training, and how much was spent on ammunition)

This is a false split. If money was spent on ammunition, then it was part of the training. You absolutely cannot train someone to shoot without them expending a lot - I mean an enormous amount - of rounds. From my own (admittedly military) experience, you spend a lot more time trying to get them up to speed. And you want someone who can hit what they aim at.

Sydney Whitkanack, who will enter seventh grade this fall, said she's grown up around firearms and doesn't mind if teachers or staff are armed at school.


Yeah, I think we need to take into account how the actual kids in that town will react rather than kids in ours.
posted by corb at 10:55 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The insurance companies that aren't supporting this? They're great. Good for them for taking a stand against crazy bullshit.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:59 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Many Americans don't trust teachers enough to actually teach their kids, but apparently trust them enough to protect them with a loaded weapon in school? How do peoples' heads not asplode?

Well for starters this only involves 3 of the 13,809 school districts in the U.S. And none of them have had board elections since the policy was announced, so we're really not sure how the people in those districts feel about the whole thing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:18 PM on July 30, 2013


My guess for how this will end? A few teachers will have mishaps with their weapons off hours -- basic stuff like shooting yourself accidentally or letting your kid get ahold of it unsupervised -- and sue the district because the accident couldn't have happened if they weren't required to own a gun.

In come the lawyers, out goes the policy.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think we need to take into account how the actual kids in that town will react rather than kids in ours.

Or we could recognise how horrifying and sad it is that a kid can brush off the idea of armed teachers as no big deal.

I mean, change Sydney's name, and the line you quoted wouldn't be out of place in a piece on the problems of educating kids in the refugee camps of a developing nation during a civil war.
posted by jack_mo at 11:31 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


It will be interesting to see what odds the bookies come up with. Someone's gonna get shot. Will a teacher snap and slaughter a classroom? Will a student steal a gun to commit suicide or get revenge? Will an angry parent get gunned down? Heck, there's even a remote chance that a gunman will come into the school and a teacher will actually save the day!

So many possibilties for probable — nay, inevitable — tragedy.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 AM on July 31, 2013


Will a student steal a gun to commit suicide or get revenge?

This too seems almost inevitable to me. *sigh*
posted by homunculus at 12:26 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


weston : Then at some point once that's in play and nobody's done anything stupid for a while, offer a smaller number of more-certified/scrutinized staff the chance to carry the hard stuff.

The inescapable problem with waiting until "nobody's done anything stupid for a while" is that such a condition always exists immediately prior to someone doing something stupid.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:46 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Won't this just create more of the bullying and social isolation and prison-like conditions in schools that can lead to shootings?

In the rest of the world, this is yet another 'haha the Americans are crazy' story.

And, oddly enough, one predicted by Episode 10 of Welcome to Night Vale, but there it was the KIDS being issued guns officially.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:54 AM on July 31, 2013


What does my head in is the fact that the right are fond of sneering at the "Hollywood values" of liberals. But they're the ones who think movies are real -- that you can give a teacher a gun and he becomes John McClane or Rambo; a stone-cold badass vigilante who'll shoot between the toddlers and bring down the bad guy.

The difference between the school children and this school board is that the former will grow up and become adults one day.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:56 AM on July 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


Now we just need high walls topped with razor wire, bars on the windows, drug-sniffing dogs, and metal detectors! Finally our precious children will be safely and permanently cared for!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:14 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of the 616 law enforcement officers in the US killed on duty by criminals from 1994 through 2003, 52 were killed with their own weapon - roughly 8 per cent.

A 1998 study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found that “every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:59 AM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


...it is even cheaper to hire a security guard who can double as a teacher.

As a whimsical side note, this isn't necessarily a dichotomy; some people with professional security licenses are also qualified as teachers, police officers, paralegals and so forth. Definitely a minority of cases, of course; I met one Spanish guard who was previously a practicing physician.

Before I took my training/examinations to get my Security Industry Authority license and became a security guard, I studied at university, designed information systems and programmed databases for digital libraries.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 2:20 AM on July 31, 2013


Of the 616 law enforcement officers in the US killed on duty by criminals from 1994 through 2003, 52 were killed with their own weapon - roughly 8 per cent.

One wonders how many other officers would be dead if they weren't allowed to carry weapons? I kind of suspect that it would be more than 616.

But this policy seems almost like a tiger repelling rock kind of scenario. School shootings are so statistically rare that every teacher in the country could be armed and very little would change in the annual death toll.

Final devil's advocate thought: do we really mistrust teachers so much? As much as the idea of armed teachers is sad and scary, it's equally as scary that we don't trust teachers to be responsible enough to carry guns.
posted by gjc at 2:41 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't really matter if teachers are armed. If someone is going to go on a shooting spree, they'll be able to gun an armed guard down before they can react. It's not like they're going to be walking around with body armor and an assault rifle slung across their chest.

And let's be real -- how many of them are going to get into a gun fight with an armed assailant when it comes down to it? They're teachers, not soldiers.
posted by empath at 2:44 AM on July 31, 2013


And I'll call this right now -- there will be more accidental deaths due to this policy than killing sprees stopped by it.
posted by empath at 2:44 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


You absolutely cannot train someone to shoot without them expending a lot - I mean an enormous amount - of rounds. From my own (admittedly military) experience, you spend a lot more time trying to get them up to speed. And you want someone who can hit what they aim at.

You do if you actually care about the end results, but I'm cynical enough to worry that neither the school district nor Nighthawk do so. Just the fact that they're going to let the teachers buy their own weapons, rather than standarise equipment shows to me somebody doesn't want to think too much beyond "let's arm the teachers".
posted by MartinWisse at 3:07 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


You do if you actually care about the end results, but I'm cynical enough to worry that neither the school district nor Nighthawk do so. Just the fact that they're going to let the teachers buy their own weapons, rather than standarise equipment shows to me somebody doesn't want to think too much beyond "let's arm the teachers".

That's a whole other thing, isn't it? Even if we agree for the sake of argument that arming teachers is a good idea, it sure seems like they are going about it the completely wrong way.

I wonder if the trouble with a policy like this is ALL about implementation. That if it could be implemented as perfectly as is possible, that it WOULD be a good policy, but when it is implemented haphazardly, it don't just become ineffective, but outright dangerous.
posted by gjc at 3:17 AM on July 31, 2013


It doesn't really matter if teachers are armed. If someone is going to go on a shooting spree, they'll be able to gun an armed guard down before they can react. It's not like they're going to be walking around with body armor and an assault rifle slung across their chest.

And let's be real -- how many of them are going to get into a gun fight with an armed assailant when it comes down to it? They're teachers, not soldiers.


Well, the theory is that with a single security guard, there is a single point of failure. If an assailant can ambush the guard, the school becomes completely vulnerable. With every teacher packing heat, there are more opportunities to stem the bloodshed.

And I think that's a dark calculation that people on both sides of the issue don't always make: arming oneself isn't a binary thing. It's not protected versus unprotected, or safe versus unsafe. Rather, it is about being able to take a bad situation that IS occurring and stop it from getting worse. Like the old trope of "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That is both a fairytale, and cold hard truth. A good guy with a gun doesn't prevent these things from starting. But at the same time, once someone has gone haywire and starts shooting people, there is very little that can be done to end the situation but shooting the assailant.

And this is where people on both sides of the gun issue talk past each other a bit.

And I'll call this right now -- there will be more accidental deaths due to this policy than killing sprees stopped by it.

I fear you are right, but hope you are wrong. And that's another cold calculation: the people in favor of this policy would say that any accidents that occur because of it would be preventable, whereas the rare lunatic storming a school is much less preventable.
posted by gjc at 3:33 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


A 9mm pistol is a great introductory lesson to the metric system.
posted by dr_dank at 4:13 AM on July 31, 2013


The Monkees had a dark core.

Stepping Stone is punk as fuck.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:50 AM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Don't take your guns to school, teach',
Leave your guns at home, Cheyne,
Don't take your guns to school
posted by entropicamericana at 7:50 AM on July 31, 2013


My takeaway here is that, if you're intent on shooting-up a school, and the school has armed teachers, you're obviously going to have to up your game and escalate into heavier firepower. Maybe explosives?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:52 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


wonder if the trouble with a policy like this is ALL about implementation. That if it could be implemented as perfectly as is possible, that it WOULD be a good policy, but when it is implemented haphazardly, it don't just become ineffective, but outright dangerous.

Yeah. Honestly, a lot of this thread has my dander up for what seems like just plain gun fear - really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal - but the truth is that while I don't think an armed teacher is a bad idea, this plan seems ill thought out.

Better than requiring all teachers to be armed, they should just offer to reimburse anyone the cost of their gun and allow them to carry in school, if and only if they take this paid-for week-long class.
posted by corb at 7:52 AM on July 31, 2013


Yo, dawg, I heard you hate guns in your schools, so I put guns in your schools to protect you from guns in your schools.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:55 AM on July 31, 2013 [14 favorites]


All cool things are in metric
for example, here's just one:
I got my nine, that's nine milimeters
Sounds cooler than point-two-something inches gun
posted by Ghost Mode at 8:05 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Honestly, a lot of this thread has my dander up for what seems like just plain gun fear - really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal - but the truth is that while I don't think an armed teacher is a bad idea, this plan seems ill thought out.

I admit that I am not at all a fan of guns, but this in part stems from a distrust in the motivations of people, up to and including teachers. I really do not see how increasing the number of small firearms, especially in a building not designed to block weapons fire and with small children, is a public safety boon.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:09 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because an armed society is a polite society, QED. {/}
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Maybe let's not go into full Doctor Sarcastro mode here.]
posted by cortex at 8:15 AM on July 31, 2013


really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal

Yeah, in the third world. That's where you want to take us? Where men have to strap on a gat and a necktie to go to work everyday?
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:16 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


If money was spent on ammunition, then it was part of the training.

That's not the point, the point is that they spent $50k on weaponizing faculty instead of educational material at a time when it is nearly impossible to avoid spending cuts in schools. It's the utmost in hypocrisy to plead poverty when your teachers need better supplies and program support yet blithely sign them up for militarization willy-nilly.

Yeah, I think we need to take into account how the actual kids in that town will react rather than kids in ours.

Actually, the parents have a say, too, and they interviewed a parent who was (rightfully) worried as to what might happen. Also, the girl you quoted appears to be a volunteer actor in the exercise.

do we really mistrust teachers so much? As much as the idea of armed teachers is sad and scary, it's equally as scary that we don't trust teachers to be responsible enough to carry guns.

To be honest, I barely even trust people with LEO or military training to carry guns outside their job, and even then quite a few of them engage in gun idiocy or intentional violence. To throw a gun and a couple day's training at overworked and underpaid teachers and just say "here's what you need to be a hero" is highly stupid. At least others get hazard pay.

And if you want to see people being sad and scary, wait until the first time armed teachers go on strike and turn on Fox News for the 24-hour ARMED UNION THUGS THREATEN OUR NATION'S CHILDREN klaxon. Or--and let's be brutally honest here--schools with significant populations of black teachers start asking to be armed.

Yeah. Honestly, a lot of this thread has my dander up for what seems like just plain gun fear

No, it's the combination of children, poor planning, insufficient training, and diversion of educational resources. The justifiable fear around gun violence isn't something that should be dismissed here.

really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal

And what cultures are those? Israel and Switzerland, the usual suspects that armed society advocates like to trot out, are neither as armed nor as utopian as claimed.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:17 AM on July 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal

And there is no absence of accidental shootings, stolen weapons, suicides, or spur-of-the-moment killings. "Fine and normal" does not make for "nothing bad happens, either accidentally or on purpose."

In addition to the firing range training that these teachers got, will they be required to go to the range every [week/month/quarter] to practice? Will they get regular refresher courses in the proper way to respond to real-life scenarios that are totally unlike shooting at a paper target on a range? Who pays for those? Who administers them? Who tracks which teachers are due for a refresher, which teachers have not passed the most recent qualification test? Who determines if a teacher's gun should be confiscated, and how will that policy be developed and enforced?
posted by rtha at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


One wonders how many other officers would be dead if they weren't allowed to carry weapons? I kind of suspect that it would be more than 616.

My idle research on Wikipedia tells me that in the UK, where regular police are unarmed, 67 police officers have been shot dead since 1900*. That's not 67 who were shot with their own gun between 1994 and 2003, that's 67 total in 113 years. So there's that.

*Not including in Northern Ireland.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:22 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Better than requiring all teachers to be armed, they should just offer to reimburse anyone the cost of their gun and allow them to carry in school, if and only if they take this paid-for week-long class.

A week-long class won't accomplish anything worthwhile—at least, relative to using firearms. You can instill a healthy respect for safety and storing firearms in a week-long class, and maybe that avoids some of the obvious accidental dangers. But you can't teach someone combat shooting in a week. The classes that attempt to (Massad Ayoob, Chuck Taylor, etc) assume competence walking in. And anyway, once the week ends, then what? Marksmanship is a perishable skill; you need to impose a practice regimen. How often will you require teachers to go to a firing range? Is there one nearby? How many rounds must they fire, and will you reimburse them?

I'd be interested to know the background here. The fact that "each teacher involved received 53 hours of training from Nighthawk Custom Training" raises more questions than it answers. Looking at its website, the facility appears to specialize in sport shooting. Whose idea was it to create this ASSERT Training program, and how did the facility get hooked up with the school district?

And more importantly than the potential back-room politics, did anyone discuss non-firearm options? Handguns make a crappy weapon. Police use them for reasons having mostly to do with convenience, not because they're effective; and in the case of schoolteachers and classrooms, those conveniences are heavily counterbalanced (if not outweighed) by safety concerns. Did anyone discuss equipping teachers with pepper spray, or even tasers? If the discussion went straight to handguns...why?
posted by cribcage at 8:24 AM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


A week-long class won't accomplish anything worthwhile—at least, relative to using firearms.

I'm working off memory, but I believe both my marksmanship/rifle training and my grenade training in the military were a week long. So it can be done, definitely. I do share your concerns about the specific training itself, though - I'd also be wondering how many people are creating courses to capitalize on the situation.
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on July 31, 2013


I'm working off memory, but I believe both my marksmanship/rifle training and my grenade training in the military were a week long.

First off, that's for a completely different firearms skill set (both in terms of weapons and tactics). And second, that's in the midst of an intensive, multiweek, full-time program intended to familiarize someone with all aspects of how to prepare for and engage with opponents in an existing hostile environment, not plinking targets and playing around with Airsoft rifles.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


really, I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal

"Normal" and "just fine" are not the same thing at all.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:49 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


An armed deputy at Columbine High school did not prevent the massacre there in 1999.

If the idea behind this insanity is that more guns=more opportunities to stop a mass shooting, are we going to allow 18 year old students to bring firearms to school next?
posted by inertia at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


In addition to the firing range training that these teachers got, will they be required to go to the range every [week/month/quarter] to practice?

Once again, the underlying giant turd sitting in the corner is that at a practical level 'gun rights' as currently advocated by the NRA is nothing less than the socialisation of costs and the privatisation of profits. Regular training would absolutely fit that model.

It is a given that teacher firearm training is being discussed as a business opportunity in the same way that whole industries around outsourcing security appeared as a result of the invasion of Iraq and a whole new stream of industry was created around Homeland Security.

Politically, you can bet that if the absurd business of arming teachers becomes more widespread then a small advocacy contingent will also be built around it to:
- Characterise any failures as one offs or failures of the individual
- Pluff up any successes, and importantly to claim that they could only happen because of arming teachers
- Position any move towards removing firearms from schools as 'think of the children'

Also: this was satire in 1996/7.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


I promise, there are cultures where everyone is walking around armed and it is just fine and normal

I think I'm gonna have ask for a cite here. But I guess a lot depends on your definition of "just fine and normal."

As appallingly bad an idea as arming schoolteachers is, even worse is the idea of arming schoolteachers with no training in armed security. And let's say that's rectified and every teacher is required to train as much as your average LEO or maybe a little less. So now schoolteachers are being asked to do two jobs, to teach and to be an armed security guard? For the same amount of money?

The cynicism or the ignorance or the insanity—I can't tell which—behind this idea just boggles my fucking mind.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:52 AM on July 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hint: That cranky English teacher who used to wear polo shirts, but now wears a sport coat to class? He's carrying.

Another way to say that: That teacher who started wearing a coat to class? That old fart that you could totally overpower if you wanted? He or she has what you need to take that fucker that disrespected you and show him who's boss.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:55 AM on July 31, 2013


I don't think it's useful to compare training that happens in a military context with civilian training. They are just very different contexts. Moreover, with all due respect (sincerely) to yourself and others who have served, there's a very short list of people I'd feel comfortable responding if my kid were inside an active-shooter situation, and "everybody who's undergone IET" isn't it. Neither are most local police, if we're being honest.

I don't think any responsible individual—in a civilian context—would spend Friday teaching tactical shooting to a group of people who spent Monday learning the difference between a pistol and a revolver. Muscle memory plays a huge part in components like stance, sight picture, or trigger pull. It takes more than a week to create real muscle memory, and remember that each of these lessons is going to be counterintuitive for new shooters: they won't want to stand this way, they will want to pull the trigger instead of squeezing it.

Maybe let's back up. We might just be disagreeing about the word "teach." You can certainly distribute information in a week. And if you immerse new shooters in a week-long combat class, I'll certainly agree they will get something out of it. But neither of those rises to the level of creating a combat-ready civilian shooter. And that's my standard for talking about handguns in the classroom for active-shooter purposes. (Remember, this isn't about Second Amendment rights. Clarksville and NCTA are assigning guns for a particular purpose.)
posted by cribcage at 8:57 AM on July 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe let's back up. We might just be disagreeing about the word "teach." You can certainly distribute information in a week. And if you immerse new shooters in a week-long combat class, I'll certainly agree they will get something out of it. But neither of those rises to the level of creating a combat-ready civilian shooter. And that's my standard for talking about handguns in the classroom for active-shooter purposes.

Oh, this absolutely explains the difference of opinion. No, I would never think a week long class creates a combat-ready civilian shooter. The idea would be laughable. I do think a week long class can teach them enough about guns that they won't accidentally hurt themselves with them - and I think a week long class can take an existing competent shooter and make them barely competent at dealing with one particular type of combat situation.

I was more thinking along the lines of school-is-no-different-than-the-world. Ie, the teachers are on the same level as any other Joe Civilian who happened to be armed, except that they needed to prove they'd taken some training classes to prevent idiocy. I don't think that taking newbies and giving them a week long class is going to make them great responders, and I don't think they should necessarily be viewed as Special Protectors because of this class. I've mostly been responding on technical points, not saying that this plan is the best thing since sliced bread.

But I would also encourage some people in this thread (not all) to maybe be mindful and consider how a lot of their cultural conditioning about guns may be impacting how they viscerally feel about this idea.If you grew up in a city, where most of the people you knew didn't own guns, and you didn't see them in your family, I think it's more natural to find them jarring, an outside element that is dangerous and does not belong. There do exist settings where guns are normal and that don't particularly fall apart into chaos. Rural areas of Washington or Texas, for example, might be some. I don't want to get into specifics about who really counts as an armed society or what their flaws are - only to ask that people consider that other people's culture might be as valid as their own.
posted by corb at 9:16 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


would spend Friday teaching tactical shooting to a group of people who spent Monday learning the difference between a pistol and a revolver.

"Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts ... "
Lessons of the War: 1, Naming of Parts (1946), Henry Reed.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:23 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doctor Sarcastro

It ain't a neighborhood in San Francisco, people.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:23 AM on July 31, 2013




Ie, the teachers are on the same level as any other Joe Civilian who happened to be armed, except that they needed to prove they'd taken some training classes to prevent idiocy.

Johannes Mehserle was a fully trained LEO and he still committed a terrible act of idiocy that resulted in a death. Training does not prevent idiocy.

I don't think that taking newbies and giving them a week long class is going to make them great responders, and I don't think they should necessarily be viewed as Special Protectors because of this class.

Then what's the point of having them go through the training at all?

Follow the money. Who stands to benefit the most from this program?
posted by rtha at 9:24 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


But look at it this way, an armed teacher teaching an abstinence only sex-ed class would truly have the opportunity to say "THE GUN IS GOOD. THE PENIS IS EVIL."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:29 AM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


I do think a week long class can teach them enough about guns that they won't accidentally hurt themselves with them - and I think a week long class can take an existing competent shooter and make them barely competent at dealing with one particular type of combat situation.

You might think that, but it's not particularly true.

But I would also encourage some people in this thread (not all) to maybe be mindful and consider how a lot of their cultural conditioning about guns may be impacting how they viscerally feel about this idea.If you grew up in a city, where most of the people you knew didn't own guns, and you didn't see them in your family, I think it's more natural to find them jarring, an outside element that is dangerous and does not belong.

Oh, you mean the argument that nobody here is making?

Rural areas of Washington or Texas, for example, might be some. I don't want to get into specifics about who really counts as an armed society or what their flaws are - only to ask that people consider that other people's culture might be as valid as their own.

I'd love to ask people in rural Texas who aren't white, male, or heterosexual if they think that everyone walking around armed is fine by them.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


And this happened to an active-duty LEO, but we're supposed to assume that it won't happen to teachers? Or what about this gem from good ole Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's implementing a school "posse" program:
Blackwell, a member of the sheriff's posse, was on the receiving end of a scenario gone wrong.

"I played the role as a teacher," Blackwell said.

Unfortunately for him, he also took a direct-shot in the chest by a simulated round of gunfire.

Blackwell played the role of an "innocent teacher" trying to help members of the posse find another man acting as a terrorist. In his scenario, a posse member accidentally shot Blackwell.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:48 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't want to get into specifics about who really counts as an armed society or what their flaws are - only to ask that people consider that other people's culture might be as valid as their own.

You're right. We shouldn't play the blame game about who shot who or who was armed first or who negligently let some kid take their piece away. Instead, we should celebrate our differences and recognize that some cultures find gruesome schoolyard shootouts a perfectly ordinary part of growing up.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:59 AM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here in Little Rock, the local alt-weekly also has some coverage (if you read the comments section, you might want to note that I_AM_THE_NRA is a one-note joke account).
posted by box at 10:05 AM on July 31, 2013


I'm still waiting for the One-Handgun-Per-Child program. You know it's coming.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2013


And tomorrow morning, We shall have what to do after firing

Repeat after me: "It was self defense, officer. I was standing my ground."
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:38 AM on July 31, 2013


[Maybe let's not go into full Doctor Sarcastro mode here.]

You mean like this guy?

posted by homunculus at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Despite the queasy feeling I get in the pit of my stomach knowing that a whole lot of kids are now in danger of being horribly injured/traumatized at best or murdered at worst, part of me can't help but think this development will be pretty instrumental in proving the gun industry's deeper evil to the masses when this ends in bloody catastrophe. Not saying that's the ideal way for this country to come to that conclusion, just that it could prove...effective.
posted by Mooseli at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2013


Mooseli: "Not saying that's the ideal way for this country to come to that conclusion, just that it could prove...effective."

I might have agreed with you before Sandy Hook, but if it's going to take an even worse massacre to heighten the contradictions to the point that Congress takes meaningful action, then that's not something I can actively wish for.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2013


You're right. We shouldn't play the blame game about who shot who or who was armed first or who negligently let some kid take their piece away. Instead, we should celebrate our differences and recognize that some cultures find gruesome schoolyard shootouts a perfectly ordinary part of growing up.

I think the point Corb is making is that lots, and by that I mean the vast, vast majority of gun owners manage to get through each and every day without losing track of their guns, accidentally shooting anyone or even intentionally shooting someone, justified or not (despite getting angry and facing the daily frustration of life). And I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who lives outside of a select few metro areas in this country comes into daily contact with someone who owns a gun and manages not to shoot anybody their whole lives (and quite probably comes into at least casual contact with someone carrying concealed on a daily basis). So the idea that seems prevelant in this thread that owning a gun makes it just a matter of time until you kill someone with it (or some other kind of idiocy with it) is wrong.

Any time there is a thread that touches on guns here there is a never ending stream of sneering and condescension toward gun owners that would be called out as bigotry if directed toward any other group.

I don't think forcing teachers to be armed is good idea at all-for all the reasons I think forcing ANYONE to be armed is a bad idea. And teaching a bunch of children to be civilized and knowledgeable is hard enough without the daily burden of knowing you are also responsible for defending them. However ALLOWING teachers to be armed if they are willing to undergo training and become qualified is not the worst idea in the world for preventing (or at least stopping) school shooting. However I think this case (and most cases of arming teachers) is a foolish waste of resources for a problem that is in reality quite rare and quite unlikely to happen.
posted by bartonlong at 12:08 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


George_Spiggott: "What does my head in is the fact that the right are fond of sneering at the "Hollywood values" of liberals. But they're the ones who think movies are real -- that you can give a teacher a gun and he becomes John McClane or Rambo; a stone-cold badass vigilante who'll shoot between the toddlers and bring down the bad guy.

The difference between the school children and this school board is that the former will grow up and become adults one day.
"

All right, pop quiz. School, gunman with one toddler. He's using her for cover; he's almost to a door. You're a hundred feet away...?

Shoot the toddler.
posted by Samizdata at 12:20 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


the vast, vast majority of gun owners manage to get through each and every day without losing track of their guns, accidentally shooting anyone or even intentionally shooting someone, justified or not (despite getting angry and facing the daily frustration of life).

I want to thank all those gun owners for not shooting people even when it was justified.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on July 31, 2013


I think the point Corb is making is that lots, and by that I mean the vast, vast majority of gun owners manage to get through each and every day without losing track of their guns, accidentally shooting anyone or even intentionally shooting someone, justified or not

You could say the same for people who own automobiles, and yet we're still required to have them licensed, registered, insured at great cost, undergo extensive training, and are rightfully subject to severe penalties for use by those not following any of that. And that's for something that wasn't invented or designed expressly to hurt or kill another person!

So the idea that seems prevelant in this thread that owning a gun makes it just a matter of time until you kill someone with it (or some other kind of idiocy with it) is wrong.

If by "prevalent" you mean "essentially non-existent," then sure. In fact, the first person to bring up general gun ownership was corb, making essentially the same baseless claim you just did.

Any time there is a thread that touches on guns here there is a never ending stream of sneering and condescension toward gun owners that would be called out as bigotry if directed toward any other group.

Bigotry? I don't recall MeFites saying that gun owners deserve to be jailed, or that they deserve to have less civil rights than others, or that they should be prevented from expressing themselves, all merely for owning guns. That's bigotry.

What I do see is a lot of people with valid points regarding the link between gun culture and gun violence, or that the use of firearms contributes to an attack-defense mentality, or the plentiful evidence that guns exacerbate many violent interactions while failing to prevent others or even making them worse (SYG being a prime example), or that there are serious issues regarding the gun lobby and their racial rhetoric as well as concerns around domestic violence and mental health laws. I also see a lot of gun owners decrying simple things like funding research into gun violence as civil rights violations, or assuming that the Second Amendment was meant to be a uniquely unlimited right, or that the gun lobby has their interests at heart rather than simply increasing profits for the arms industry, or as seen here the dismissing of incidents as piffling without placing it any context at all.

You can make the argument about vast majorities playing it safe, but that doesn't address the ways that better regulation can make it much safer, as it did with automobiles and numerous other things. Nor does it address the ways that gun owners could deal with the problem internally instead of getting so defensive every time gun control is brought up. A lot of problems would be solved if gun owners spent even a fraction of the energy they do in making excuses for bad apples and lashing out at even minor proposals to address gun violence on making gun culture a lot stricter in dealing with both.

However ALLOWING teachers to be armed if they are willing to undergo training and become qualified is not the worst idea in the world for preventing (or at least stopping) school shooting.

The bar for worst ideas in this respect is abysmally low, and armed teachers is pretty close to the bottom.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:39 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


In the UK we treat firearms with respect, a small number of policemen are allowed to carry and use firearms. The training process is rigorous and there is a continuous process of recertification. According to Wikipedia:

Once authorised, firearms officers must go through regular refresher courses and retests in all aspects of their training in order to keep their firearms 'ticket', such as being tested every four months, and requalifying for the role each year. Failing in any aspect can result in the officer having their ticket revoked. Any health issues which arise can also result in temporary or permanent suspension from firearms duties.

This is for full-time police officers, not for someone who takes a week's training and then might not be expected to use their training for a few years, if ever. I've seen people who have been on a Microsoft Excel training course not be able to remember what they learnt (about e.g. macros) because they did not immediately put it into practice.

This imbecilic idea is just some gun fetishists imposing their wild-west fantasies on the school system. The lack of training with the final weapon of choice, the apparent lack of ongoing training, the lack of any discussion of disqualification, the lack of standardisation (of weapons) is proof of that. It will not improve safety but it will let anyone with ill-intent know exactly how they can get hold of a weapon once in a school, the kids will know within days who is armed and they will talk.
posted by epo at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2013


If I were teaching, I'd love to be one of those teachers. Spend that thousand on a gun, as required to get the money, turn around and sell gun again. $1000 bonus that you can then use to buy actual school supplies/alcohol, depending on the students.
posted by Hactar at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could say the same for people who own automobiles, and yet we're still required to have them licensed, registered, insured at great cost, undergo extensive training, and are rightfully subject to severe penalties for use by those not following any of that. And that's for something that wasn't invented or designed expressly to hurt or kill another person!

Automobiles may not be invented or designed to hurt or kill another person, but they're incredibly efficient at it. They are the leading cause of violent death in the United States - they ring in (per the CDC) at 33,687 deaths. Firearms, on the other hand, have such a low portion of accidental deaths that they are not even listed on the page - while firearm homicides come to 11,078, again per the CDC.

We also do not require extensive training for automobile ownership or usage - we require, generally, one written test and one practical test.

And generally, despite automobiles' proven lethality, we don't consider someone bringing a car somewhere evidence of bad intent, nor do we gasp at the notion of a teacher bringing a car to school.
posted by corb at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2013


I don't think there's much insight to be found in comparing automobiles to firearms, or in comparing gun culture in the US to the UK. They're weak comparisons, and whatever value they had was exhausted long ago.

It's a challenging conversation that usually goes better if kept on point. My two cents.
posted by cribcage at 1:54 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Automobiles may not be invented or designed to hurt or kill another person, but they're incredibly efficient at it. They are the leading cause of violent death in the United States - they ring in (per the CDC) at 33,687 deaths. Firearms, on the other hand, have such a low portion of accidental deaths that they are not even listed on the page - while firearm homicides come to 11,078, again per the CDC.

Car ownership has 95% household usage compared to about 35% of households with guns, for starters. And there's also the nearly 20,000 suicides (half of all suicides) involving guns.

We also do not require extensive training for automobile ownership or usage - we require, generally, one written test and one practical test.

Actually, we do. If you're 18 or younger in Virginia, for instance, you need at least 36 classroom sessions, 7 driving sessions, and 7 in-car observation sessions.

And generally, despite automobiles' proven lethality, we don't consider someone bringing a car somewhere evidence of bad intent, nor do we gasp at the notion of a teacher bringing a car to school.

Well, apart from the issues with your assessment that I point out above, that's because (1) your chosen statistic of car accidents imply lack of intent as opposed to the intent inherent in the other statistic of gun homicides, and (2) you can't conceal a car and bring it into the classroom.

But as cribcage points out, this is a conversation that never goes anywhere and probably won't in this thread either, so it's better we move on.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2013


I don't think there's much insight to be found in comparing automobiles to firearms, or in comparing gun culture in the US to the UK

You are right. A lot of Americans think they are John Wayne; a lot of Brits ask, who's John Wayne?
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2013


I don't think there's much insight to be found in comparing automobiles to firearms, or in comparing gun culture in the US to the UK. They're weak comparisons, and whatever value they had was exhausted long ago.

I was making no gun culture comparison at all, we don't have one. But I was saying was that under this proposal teachers will be armed and held to far lower standards than we hold our police officers.
posted by epo at 4:07 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did anyone discuss equipping teachers with pepper spray, or even tasers? If the discussion went straight to handguns...why?

These are the questions bring asked today at the offices of the chronically underfunded National Pepper Spray Association.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:26 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you really just bring up the "cars kill more people than guns" canard? Tell you what; I think cars should be banned, too. Happy now?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:03 PM on July 31, 2013


> maybe be mindful and consider how a lot of their cultural conditioning about guns may be impacting how they viscerally feel about this idea. If you grew up in a city, where most of the people you knew didn't own guns, and you didn't see them in your family, I think it's more natural to find them jarring, an outside element that is dangerous and does not belong.

Guns seem natural in a setting where, for instance, you may need to shoot a rabid animal, or go hunting for food or sport, neither of which are natural occurrences inside of the school building. Maybe you should take your own advice about the impact of your cultural conditioning. Because no matter how rural the community, children at school are in an environment which is more like a city -- a lot of people together in close quarters, a lot of walls, a lot of doors, a lot of obstacles, a lot of dead ends (e.g. classrooms).

> I was more thinking along the lines of school-is-no-different-than-the-world. Ie, the teachers are on the same level as any other Joe Civilian who happened to be armed, except that they needed to prove they'd taken some training classes to prevent idiocy.

They're not any other Joe Civilian. The purpose of teachers carrying isn't simple self-defense or even defense of their own families or property -- it's for defending hundreds of other people's children, within an ostensibly already-secured property, where children are obligated to spend most of their waking hours, every day, for teachers who are already fully engaged in a demanding, often high-stress occupation. This requires a whole 'nother level of understanding of the ethical, legal, and tactical responsibilities for adding more firepower to the kind of violent situation that we're talking about.
posted by desuetude at 6:39 PM on July 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


“As much as the idea of armed teachers is sad and scary, it's equally as scary that we don't trust teachers to be responsible enough to carry guns.”

Carry? Sure. Use to repel an armed assailant? No. It's not what they should be doing anyway.

The best way to survive a gunfight is to not get into one.
The second best way is to evade, preferably under cover. Not many shooters can hit a laterally moving target.
Third best way is to find cover.
Fourth best, find some way to defuse the situation (conflict resolution, change the environment, etc. Some school shooters have been stopped with simple commands that change their priming from aggressive to situational. For example “put that gun down now or you will be in trouble!” or just saying their name. Or asking if they’re ok or want to talk. Etc. Doc Thompson has a lot to say on tactical communication) – Again, preferably from cover.

The fifth best way – well, some precepts only hold if your assailant is not suicidal. Suppressive fire works marvelously against an enemy interested in not dying. Someone who doesn’t particularly care one way or another? Well, the curve drops off pretty sharp there.
But fifth best is to return fire. Preferably from cover. Preferably by ambush.

But even then the objective isn’t to stop the bad guy, it’s to prevent kids from being shot.

Teachers teach. That alone prevents untold amounts of violence. Far more than I can stop with a firearm. Even granting a teacher supreme skill and accuracy – they’ve already been set up to fail because the situation is set up to create conflict instead of diffuse it.
Instead of moving kids efficiently out of harms way - which would correlate with their training - they're expected to return fire. Ridiculous.

I’ve never understood why the last, most immediate, least likely to succeed way is always considered the best. Methods of prevention are far more likely to work in stopping anything long before it begins. Socializing. Priming. Teaching coping skills and anger management.
For some reason we want conflict and righteous violence. We do the same thing to addicts. Demand they go to treatment, then morally castigate them when we get there. I suspect it’s mostly ego and self-grandiosity. If you want to be a good guy, well hell, gotta have a ‘bad guy.’
But too, I suspect it’s not having been in the equation.

Firefights don’t look like they do in the movies. And they don’t evolve the way they do in the movies. And any time you have one, or expect to have one, you want to control as much as you possibly can. Even when it’s unexpected, you want to have already had control of the environment, the physical environment certainly, but also the circumstances, the mental environment.
Having an emergency action plan and practicing it, for example (although tornadoes are more likely than school shooters).

Communication and emergency response skill sets are far more valuable and lead to more lives saved than an armed response. And indeed, are cross-trainable skills (training in emergency communication and crowd control is great for tornadoes, fires, other disasters. Gun, not so much.)

Anything less than focusing on what you can control is gambling. And this, putting firearms in teacher's hands, is gambling.

“Once again, the underlying giant turd sitting in the corner is that at a practical level 'gun rights' as currently advocated by the NRA is nothing less than the socialisation of costs and the privatisation of profits.”

Yeah, they seem to be sellin’ the dream the way churches sell the addiction treatment thing. It just boils down to laundering money.

/tangent – So, Sarcastro finally got his PhD, eh? That’s just so super for him.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:33 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would not be surprised if the first usage of a firearm was to breakup a schoolyard fight, ending in some minority kid being killed. Of course, it will be justifiable because the teacher 'felt threatened'. An armed society is a polite society and all that.
posted by empath at 9:39 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most modern schools have, or should have, fireproof steel doors at each classroom. They should be hung so they open outward, and can be opened at any time by anyone, even little kids, inside the classroom. Top open them from the hallway requires a key or badge reader.

There. Done. Crazy McGun can stalk the halls, but he's stuck trying to mass-murder people through a tiny little shatterproof reinforced window in the door of a classroom. If the glass can be opaqued or even shuttered remotely (and it can), he can't even aim at anyone.

This strikes me as being far cheaper and safer than arming and boot-camping hundreds of teachers, most of whom aren't interested in shooting people as part of their profession.

Badge-reader makers and fireproof door manufacturers need a better lobby.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:22 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I do think a week long class can teach them enough about guns that they won't accidentally hurt themselves with them

Meh. Again, I've watched a soldier ND into their own leg.
posted by jaduncan at 10:07 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most modern schools have, or should have, fireproof steel doors at each classroom. They should be hung so they open outward, and can be opened at any time by anyone, even little kids, inside the classroom. Top open them from the hallway requires a key or badge reader.

This plan works perfectly if only we assume that none of the classrooms have external windows.
posted by jaduncan at 10:15 AM on August 1, 2013


This plan works perfectly if only we assume that none of the classrooms have external windows.

Sandy Hook was so lethal because the gunman controlled chokepoints - places where free movement of the intended victims was impossible. The kids had to try to run past him to the door, and then down the hall, dramatically narrowing the area he needed to target.

Shooting into a window means all the kids run out of the room at once... Smedleyman above has pointed out the difficulty in hitting targets who can move freely, and have cover (desks) ... and then the lunatic has to find a way into the school which is now on lockdown. The windows in my school as a kid (and my kid's preschool) are plexiglass. Doesn't stop bullets, but they puncture, not shatter.

More, even when I was a kid, a strange guy walking up to a window was a prompt for the teacher to move everyone out of the class. (Turned out to be a harmless elderly gentlemen who was a bit confused, but they took no chances.) The opportunity to do damage is smaller than you'd presume.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:35 AM on August 1, 2013


If I were teaching, I'd love to be one of those teachers. Spend that thousand on a gun, as required to get the money, turn around and sell gun again. $1000 bonus that you can then use to buy actual school supplies/alcohol, depending on the students.

I really hadn't thought about the side business as an arms dealer. No more second jobs in the summertime!

Shoot, maybe even Walter White could've stayed legit.
posted by weston at 11:22 AM on August 1, 2013


Arkansas' AG issued an opinion.
posted by box at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every school should have one of these.
posted by homunculus at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2013


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