An additional peril: the armed teacher who is black
The president and the National Rifle Association believe that arming teachers and staff in our nation’s schools is the best course to take to combat school shootings. Teachers, already functioning as de facto social workers and therapists in underfunded schools, must now be combat ready, carry a gun, assess a situation, protect their students, and hunt for a shooter.
Hopefully, those teachers are not black. White police officers already have shown a tendency to beat and shoot fellow police officers, particularly black officers. In June 2017, a black off-duty officer coming to the aid of other officers was shot and wounded by a white police officer in St. Louis who was “fearing” for his safety. In Rhode Island in 2000, black off-duty sergeant Cornel Young Jr., while breaking up a scuffle, was shot and killed by fellow officers. And who could forget the horrible beating that officer Michael Cox received by fellow officers in Boston in 1995?
In addition, though police authorities refuse to investigate the link between combat veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder, and their reliance on violence while policing, there is much anecdotal information that at least some of these officers bring the war back home with them.
So, in the event of a school shooting, police officers would have to determine immediately that the black man with a gun is not a threat but instead a caring teacher trying to protect his students. Good luck to that teacher. And good luck to black students whose armed teachers’ implicit racism may end their lives as well.
The writer is an associate professor of history at Wheaton College.
Guns in classrooms would only stoke fear, adrenaline
I was so glad to read Alex Kingsbury’s insightful commentary “Who is a coward and who is just a human?” (Page A9, Feb. 25). As we struggle for a response to another tragic shooting, we need to step back and ask how we wish to evolve as a society and what changes we can make to alter our trajectory.
Arming teachers might seem like a convenient solution to deter school shootings, but everyone should consider what happens when guns, fear, and adrenaline are combined. Too often we have seen this result in the shooting of disruptive but unarmed citizens by well-trained and well-intentioned police. It’s not hard to imagine similar unintended consequences when guns are inserted into the often-chaotic and sometimes-volatile environment of our schools.
What we need is dialogue that focuses on our common goals and a nonpartisan, nonpolitical action plan that includes reasonable and meaningful gun control measures as well as guarantees that basic access to guns will be protected. Common sense is far too uncommon these days but never so desperately needed.
It’s the AR-15, stupid
Alex Kingsbury’s “Who is a coward and who is just being human?” pointed up that, while perhaps not an exemplar of bravery, a sheriff’s deputy who didn’t run in to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to confront and stop the Ar-15-wielding gunman was acting very much according to human nature.
Reading Kingsbury’s well-written commentary made be think of the expression, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.” Indeed, it is foolish to expect a perhaps lightly trained deputy, armed with a handgun with a slower rate of fire and far smaller magazine, to have a credible chance to stop someone who is carrying an AR-15.
What then is the solution — arm all law-enforcement officers with semiautomatic assault weapons with large magazines? Maybe we would all be equipped with AR-15s and told we are responsible for our self-defense. Or, just maybe, no one should be allowed to have such a deadly weapon. And please don’t say it is useful for hunting. Hunting what — Godzilla?
The kids rise to challenge — adults need to join them
Scott Melzer’s quote in Annie Linskey’s article on the National Rifle Association hits the nail on the head: For a social movement to succeed, people need “to get fired up and off the couch” (“Fla. students grapple with a formidable foe in NRA,” Page A1, Feb. 25). After yet another senseless school shooting, it’s hard not to sink further into the couch in despair. But despair turns people into powerless spectators, and a democracy of spectators is no longer a democracy at all.
It will take nothing less than a major social movement to free our government from the stranglehold of billionaires and corporate lobbyists. The kids are off the couch, fighting for their lives and for a government that is accountable to its people. Their energy and passion are inspiring. It’s high time the adults got up and joined them.