by Carl, 12/19/2012, 8:22 PM

I just get all sputtering and what-the-fucky when discussing the idea that teachers should be armed. It’s such a horrible idea, I can’t even comprehend where it’s coming from. Fortunately, Aphra Behn over at Shakesville has an amazing post on the subject.

Unlike the jackasses in Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia, who apparently think that any old person can do what a SWAT team does, I actually have respect for law enforcement. I understand that it takes a lot of training, and a particular set of aptitudes, in order to do that kind of work. I understand that what they do is not a matter of attending a training session or two. I also understand that they get paid to be alert to danger, and to proactively respond to it. That’s their job, and I respect that. I even understand that not all law enforcement and security forces have the same training, that some are very specially trained to handle things like hostage situations or gunmen who threaten large crowds.

But that is not my job. My job involves things like palaeography and reading microfilm, or grading papers, or going to yet another meeting about campus recycling. Nor is it the job of teachers at the elementary and secondary level.Their jobs are focused more on teaching and service than mine, and their training is a little different from mine–they take classes on their subject area and on the actual craft of educating, rather than focusing on how to produce scholarship. But you know what they don’t take classes on? How to take down an armed gunman without shooting innocent civilians. At least, they don’t teach that at my university’s College of Education.

35 Responses to “Terrible Idea”

1. Roger Rabbit spews:

Yeah, it’s a terrible idea, and the people proposing this haven’t thought it through; in fact, they haven’t thought at all. Such as the crackpot Republican congressman from Texas who suggested Sandy Hook’s principal should have had an M-4 in her office and popped the shooter’s head off “before” (crackpot’s words) he could hurt the kids.

As I pointed out in my post on this subject in a previous thread, it’s not clear how the timeline of this crackpot’s scheme purports to work. The only efficacious “before” that existed in this situation was before the gunman started shooting. So how is the principal, sitting in her office, supposed to know she has to grab her M-4, run down the hall, and save the kids by popping off Mr. Lanza’s head before he starts shooting? Ordinarily, gunfire would alert her to the fact there’s a situation in a classroom. By the time she finds the gun cabinet key, unlocks it, takes out the M-4, locates the magazine and inserts it, cocks the rifle, and runs down the hall to the relevant classroom, the kids are already dead. With an AR-15, it doesn’t take more than 90 seconds.

And then you have another problem, namely, what happens to the intrepid principal when the SWAT team arrives. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happens to the intrepid principal. The SWAT knows there’s a shooter in the school. They know that a child is being killed every 5 seconds. They know they have to take down a shooter with an assault rifle to keep more children from being killed. What do you think they’re going to do to the first shooter with an assault rifle they see? Ask him/her if he/she is the shooter or the principal? I think you’ve probably got a shoot first, ask questions later, response situation here. In which case, I wouldn’t want to be that principal, and I don’t think you’re going to get very many principals volunteering for this particular first responder role.

There are other things wrong with this dingbat idea. Such as a teacher or principal going to pieces instead of facing aimed fire from an AR-15 (which is hard even for veteran infantrymen who are used to this — as “used to it” as anyone can ever get — to do) and popping off the bad guy’s head before he pops yours off. Most people aren’t very good at this sort of thing.

And then there’s the little problem of engaging a moving target with an M-4, with a bunch of squirming kiddies as a backstop, and making a head shot. Most people aren’t very good at that, either.

Not last, and certainly not least, there’s the problem that if the shooter gets the principal before the principal gets the shooter, the shooter now has TWO assault rifles instead of one.

There’s more, but this should suffice to convince you that Rep. Gohmert (R-Idiot) didn’t think this all the way through, and it is indeed a terrible idea.

2. Roger Rabbit spews:

Personally, I don’t think that crackpot congressman knew what he was talking about. I think it was just an emotional rant.

3. Roger Rabbit spews:

If you want to guard school children, it makes far more sense to (a) erect a perimeter fence around the school, (b) lock the doors, and (c) hire armed security guards whose full-time job is to provide security and who are experts at this task.

If you’re going to go this route, while you’re at it you might as well install magnetometers and x-ray machines, and confiscate the kids’ guns when they come in.

4. Roger Rabbit spews:

I don’t see how securing our schools could cost more than securing our airports. I don’t think the one is less important than the other. We ought to be able to protect our children by spending another $50 billion or so a year on security. They’re worth it. If we don’t, how long before terrorists attack a school? It’s already happened in Chechnya. Just because it hasn’t happened here yet doesn’t mean it won’t. This is a national security issue.

5. Roger Rabbit spews:

Let’s check Florida and see how their “Stand Your Ground” law is working:

“A Florida man invoked the state’s controversial ‘state your ground’ law after he shot another customer at a pizza parlor who complained that his pie wasn’t coming out fast enough …. Randall White, 49, expressed dissatisfaction with the service. … Also waiting in line was Michael Jock, 52, who chided White for complaining. The two then started tussling …. When White raised a fist, Jock … responded by pulling out a .38 … and shot White in his middle. He fired again, hitting White in the same area …. The two men then went outside and waited for the police to arrive.”

Roger Rabbit Commentary: It’s ridiculous the victim walked outside after being shot twice. He must have quite a gut on him to eat lead like that. A .38 is no damn good. It’s underpowered. If you’re gonna shoot someone over a pizza, at least do it with a gun that’ll get the job done.

6. Expat(!)Chad spews:

Roger Rabbit Commentary: It’s ridiculous the victim walked outside after being shot twice. He must have quite a gut on him to eat lead like that.

Yeah…disembowel THAT!

7. rhp6033 spews:

Yea, it’s all a terrible idea. But to those who are proposing it, it serves two purposes:

(1) It responds to the handful of teachers who complain that they are “very good” with a handgun, but are forced to leave it at home due to the “No gun zone” laws in our schools. Of course, those handful of teachers haven’t thought it through very well, either.

(2) It diverts us from the task of identifying meaningful gun reform laws and putting them into effect.


8. Liberal Scientist is a Dirty Fucking Socialist Hippie spews:


a crazy man with access to hyper-lethal firearms executed a surprise frontal assault on a school and in a very short time murdered dozens of people, mostly small children, before killing himself.

In response to this fact, numerous voices on the right (Louie Gohmert, Rick Perry, Megan McCardle, among many) have called for various permutations of turning schools into fortresses, arming teachers, teaching kids to rush people with guns, expecting janitors to ‘take out’ the assailant. Others have blamed a ‘lack of God’ or an overdose of ‘passifying feminism’ in the schools, and propose remedies based on these ‘analyses’.

A sane person would observe that children are inherently vulnerable and need protecting, thereby negating the ‘schoolyard ninja’ strategy. Another sane person, as Roger demonstrates above, would point out the lunacy of expecting a teacher or principal with an itchy trigger finger and their own lethal firearm to effectively protect a school from such an assault. Another sane person would object to the manifold negative effects on the kids resulting from turning their schools into armed, locked-down bunkers.

So, in response to a fact that derives from the horrific confluence of inadequate mental health care with a society awash in guns and a violence-permissive culture containing fools itching to use them, the right jumps to a strategy that addresses neither of these first principles, but rather reacts in a way that reinforces their ideology of fear and violence.

A hopeful progressive, OTOH, sees an ill society and demands both wider and equitable access for all to health care, including mental health care, and sane sensible changes to our laws that would restrict access to firearms to sane people who would reliably not act out horrors like we’ve seen, over and over.

9. biggerbox spews:

“Good with a gun” on a shooting range isn’t the same thing as good with a gun when someone using a semi-automatic is shooting at you.

How many of these blowhards have ever actually had a gun threateningly pointed at them? It can be quite a shock, and it’s not really good for clear and decisive thought.

Your lizard brain knows what is real and what is a video game, and has a vested interest in not getting killed. Getting their body to participate in their fantasy of blowing the gunman away might be a wee bit harder than they think.

10. Richard Pope spews:

Arming teachers and school staff in elementary and secondary schools would be very dangerous proposal to deal with a relatively small portion of the firearms murders and related crime. It would probably increase crime (and accidents) far more than what it would prevent or deter, and could even encourage students, gang members, etc. to bring their own weapons to campus and cause trouble.

According to Wikipedia, there have been 40 firearms homicides (including suicides) committed so far on school campuses (including elementary, secondary, and higher education) during 2012. This includes the 26 murders (and one suicide) at Sandy Hook last Friday.

This is still a horrifying toll, but pales in comparison to the annual firearms homicide figures of around 9,500 a year (not including suicides) committed in the nation as a whole. Still less than one-half percent on campuses, even with the much higher numbers this year.

And I doubt that this would have had much effect at Sandy Hook if it had been allowed last week. Frankly, I don’t think hardly any elementary school teachers or staff would even WANT to carry a firearm at work, even if they could.

11. rhp6033 spews:

# 9: In fairness to an acquaitance, one of the blowhards who insist that they could have taken out the gunman if they only had a firearm, this particular acquaintance had served in the army as part of the personal guard of the commander of the base in a conflict zone. So she (yes, SHE) was probably better trained and capable than most, even the average ex-military.

But that only deals with one small element of Roger Rabbit’s points, showing that the whole idea is a bad one. She has been out of the Army for thirty years, and although she practices at gun ranges frequently, she carries her pistol in her purse. That’s not going to help her much if she only has three seconds to react.

Note: ever try finding anything in a woman’s purse in three seconds????? My wife’s frequent response – “It’s right there! In the pocket to the right! It’s the biggest thing in there, other than the keys and wallet? How come you can’t find a simple checkbook???? Oh, just give it to me! It was right here all along! Oh, okay, maybe it wasn’t in the pocket where I said it was, but you should have known to check the outer pockets anyway….”

12. No Time for Fascists spews:

On one of the THREE conservative talk radio stations on my way in, they were yammering that American culture was just just too liberal New Testament and if we were a lot more Old Testament Christian, we wouldn’t have mass shootings.

13. No Time for Fascists spews:

My mom accidentally tried to clean her glasses with Pepper Spray instead of the Windex spray she also kept in her purse. Everyone in the car started coughing uncontrollably and the driver nearly crashed the car.
Guns. What could go wrong?

14. Politically Incorrect spews:

“On one of the THREE conservative talk radio stations on my way in…”

Yes, AM radio has a lot of Conservative stations, but you shouldn’t be angry at that. After all, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, Current TV, RT-TV and other television sources have a liberal bias. Your side definitely owns the television channels.

15. Serial conservative spews:

@ 4

If we don’t, how long before terrorists attack a school? It’s already happened in Chechnya. Just because it hasn’t happened here yet doesn’t mean it won’t. This is a national security issue.

Gee, I wonder how many places in which people gather would qualify if this were the mindset. Lessee…….

Stadia, town halls, shopping centers, churches, train stations, bus depots, bus stops, city parks….

No, scratch churches. Especially if it’s a synagogue. Let God protect them.

We can’t protect everyone, nor everything. Although if we tried, it would mean millions of municipal union jobs held by people who would vote Democrat to keep their cushy benefits and schedules, so I’m sure RR and his ilk will try.

16. Richard Pope spews:

No Time @ 13

I always use isopropyl alcohol (the 70% stuff) to spray on my glasses to clean them. It is simply isopropyl alcohol and water, which both evaporate if not wiped off, and no other ingredients to stay behind and fog up your glasses.

Windex would be a poor choice since Windex contains: “4.0% isopropyl alcohol (a highly volatile solvent) 1% ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (a less volatile solvent), 0.1% sodium lauryl sulfate (a surfactant), 0.01% tetrasodium pyrophosphate (a water softener), 0.05% of 28% ammonia, 1% of a dye solution, and 0.01% perfume.” Several of these ingredients will not evaporate, and will leave behind a residue (since you can never completely wipe anything dry).

Although Windex is certainly a better cleaner than pepper spray! Maybe your mom should make sure the container for whatever she uses for eyeglass cleaner is quite distinctive in appearance and design from the pepper spray container …

17. Roger Rabbit spews:

@15 “We can’t protect everyone.” Right. So let’s only protect those deserving souls who live in gated communities. They’re deserving because they’re greedier than the rest of us. The main thing here is they don’t want to pay any taxes to protect the rest of us, or our less deserving kids.

18. Tea for everyone spews:

Gun sales are and have been consistantly skyrocketing, Wal Mart ran out of guns, and the NRA is getting a record 8000 new members per day.

What does that say about the anti gun push.

It tells me the same as the Tax the other guy crowd, take the guns away from the other guy hasn’t and will not work in America.

19. ArtFart spews:

There’s a widely circulated photo (which I’m surprised one of our trolls hasn’t yet posted a link to here) of a schoolteacher carrying a rifle. It might be pointed out that all Israelis are subject to compulsive military service, so the teacher in question would most likely have been trusted to be trained in the use of the weapon she was carrying. In addition, the entire Holy Land, unfortunately, may well be considered a combat zone. Furthermore, we don’t know the particular circumstances of the scene. Was there an alert in force because of some other incident nearby?

The justification for the TSA and airline security is the post-911 concern not only for the safety of airline passengers (hell, if it were we’d have better work-schedule rules for commuter-airline pilots, wouldn’t we?) but about aircraft being hijacked and used as weapons of mass destruction. We’re not likely to see schools getting hijacked and flown into other buildings.

20. No Time for Fascists spews:

If I could get prudent gun control measures
like closing the gun show loopholes, blanket background checks, banning of high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons at the federal level, I would agree with the option of arming teachers.
Then if kids are killed BECAUSE of that, then we change the laws again, if it becomes a problem.

21. Roger Rabbit spews:

@18 If our conservative friends went to live in a society like Israel’s, where teachers carry rifles because their country is at war and every other person on the streets outside is an enemy combatant, they should move there.

22. ArtFart spews:

@19 That’s fine, sorta-kinda. The problem is that we seem to have a bit of a track record of clinging for decades to stuff long after it’s pretty well proven itself unworkable. The “war on drugs” is just one example.

23. Serial conservative spews:

@ 18

We’re not likely to see schools getting hijacked and flown into other buildings.

True enough. They’re hijacked for other purposes, by unions.

Instead of ‘Allahu Akbar!’, we hear the likes of ‘It’s for the children.’

Except it didn’t work in Wisconsin. They’ll be back with something else next time.

24. rhp6033 spews:

# 16: My wife grabbed my glasses and started spraying them with windex before I could stop her. The anti-glare coating turned into a mess. NEVER use Windex on eyeglasses. For that matter, it’s terrible on the seals of modern exterior windows ( 2-ply and 3-ply), so you shouldn’t use it there, either (according to my replacement window contractor).

25. rhp6033 spews:

# 14: The Republicans have shouted out that idea so many times we’ve gotten tired of arguing about it, and now they extablish it as fact.

There are a couple of TV stations that tend to have liberal programming. But the rest attempt to be neutral – some bending over so far to avoid charges of bias that they go the other way.

But that’s not good enough for the Republicans. They see anything which isn’t controlled by their party (i.e., Fox News) as being liberal. Which is why they’ve driven themselves to the far right edge of the cliff, and are about to fall off.

It’s all about the facts. And the facts themselves have a liberal bias, because liberals pay attention to the facts, not the rhetoric.

26. rhp6033 spews:

Hey, I like guns. I like the feel of a finely-crafted machine with precision parts. I like the challenge of aiming on a distant target, controlling my breathing, and squeezing the tigger to hit an impossibly small target. I don’t hunt, but I don’t have a problem with those that hunt in a responsible fashion.

But I’m willing to exchange that for making rational laws protecting us (and our children) from maniacs who find it too easy to get guns.

The Republicans, however, found it all too easy to take away our rights of habeous corpus, place us in foreign jails, and torture us to within an inch of our lives, all because a handful of suicidal maniacs decided to three airplanes into buildings (the fourth one crashed in the rural countryside). They found it all too easy to waste our national treasure and our kid’s lives in committing us to a war which had nothing to do with the terrorism of 9/11. But they sure made a lot of money along the way.

27. rhp6033 spews:

By the way, AM1090 will turn to CBS Sports Radio at the start of January, just a week or so away. At that point one of the most relibably Democratic cities in the country, in a Democratic state, will have no progressive radio stations.

The rationale had nothing to do with the lack of ratings or advertisers. It’s just that CBS didn’t have a sprorts radio format on the air in Seattle, and sought to join the crowd in hopes of establishing it’s presence here.

28. wharfrat spews:

@22 Hi there Cracker Jacks…I was one of those socialist teaching, religion-denying union thugs in the classroom. A free ['cause it would be a gift from BO for votin' right] gun would be much appreciated. If only WA had a stand your ground law I could shoot the next sumbitch what has a threatening bumper sticker or such.

29. No Time for Fascists spews:

Removed by the poster

30. ArtFart spews:

@12 “Old Testament Christian”?!? Lovely.

31. YLB spews:

Ian Welsh writes another barn-burner:

The two most important things to understand are that gun control would reduce harm significantly, and that gun control is a palliative for a sick culture. The US does have more guns than anyone else, but countries like Finland have a pile of guns and people don’t kill nearly as many innocents with them. Likewise every military age male in Switzerland has an assault rifle, and they don’t have killing sprees.

The first point first, China has people who go on sprees with knives. In fact there was one just recently in a school, 23 students were injured. That’s sad, but not one of them died. Not one. Guns make violence far, far more deadly. Reducing gun availability won’t stop attacks. It will reduce how deadly they are.

The second point is that America has far more of these attacks than anyone else.  This is because America:

1) is under economic pressure.  The more people who are in economic trouble, the more attacks.

2) has jobs which are intensely unpleasant, with the asshole boss being the norm.  Don’t tell me otherwise.

3) has a startling rise in diagnosed mental illness, and a startling rise in the use of psychoactive medications whose effects we don’t really understand. In particular, there has been a massive increase in the drugging of young children (males are who we care about in this context) with amphetamines and dextro-Amphetamines, officially starting as young as 3 years old, and unofficially, earlier.  Long term use of amphetamines is associated with psychotic breaks and violence, this is not in question, we have a TON of historical evidence.  You cannot keep people constantly on amphetamines and not expect these sort of eruptions.

4) The increase in mental illness and medication is in large part because life in America is extraordinarily unpleasant.  You live in a militarized surveillance society with no guaranteed health care and with a job market that doesn’t provide enough jobs for those who need it, allowing bosses to treat those who do have jobs like shit, and executives to take virtually all productivity gains for themselves.  The economic model is to pile debt on consumers to create rental streams, but constant debt payments put people under major psychological pressure, all the time.

5) People are suffering an epidemic of chronic physical diseases on top of this.

You cannot have a pressure cooker society which is also militarized and swimming in guns.  You simply cannot.

It’s refreshing to get a foreign perspective even it’s just from over the northern border.

32. herzog spews:

Gun sales are and have been consistantly skyrocketing, Wal Mart ran out of guns, and the NRA is getting a record 8000 new members per day.

What does that say about the anti gun push.

It tells me the “coming UN invasion” crowd is getting more paranoid and delusional than ever.

33. Michael spews:

the Tax the other guy crowd, take the guns away from the other guy hasn’t and will not work in America.

Seen any election results or Republican approval ratings lately?

34. drool spews:

The fundamental problem with arming teachers is the proximity of the teachers to the students. If the teacher is carrying it (wearing or transporting), it is only a matter of time until a teacher is disarmed. If the weapon is locked up it is not available in an emergency.

35. herzog spews:

@34 – that is absolutely right. And if it gets to the point of teachers having to be armed in the classroom, we might as well shut the schools down.