Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Gun Control Conversation

This is somewhat late to the conversation, most gun arguments having already disappeared from the forefront of people's minds as time passes and the name Adam Lanza vanishes from the headlines. I have various loosely connected thoughts related to several aspects of the gun control conversation, and I simply haven't felt organized enough to express them and I am still not sure that's changed, but I will try. I'll tackle them in sections.

1. The arming of teachers and school administrators.  

I wonder at people who express the idea that teachers should be armed to prevent school shootings, not only because weapons seems incongruent to academic, nurturing places where our children go, but because it rests on the notion that teachers are somehow just the kind of people we want to protect our children.  That somehow they are wise, good people who would know perfectly how to protect their charges.  Except, teachers are as much a part of the unwashed masses as anybody else.  There are alcoholic teachers, mentally ill teachers, teachers with anger problems, teachers with incredibly poor judgement.  Just a few months ago, in the area where I live,  a local teacher was arrested for putting a hit out on another teacher.

Teachers are not saints. And teachers can be just as disgruntled as postal employees.  Schools have their own political dramas and scandals and having armed teachers is not a good idea. 

These "bad teachers" aren't the majority, but they exist and in larger numbers than people realize.

2. Armed policemen at every school. 

This concept blew my mind. It's like something out of a novel....a world where armed policeman are everywhere, even elementary schools.  I found the suggestion amusing for its irony.  Let's pay thousands upon thousands of policemen for a service that is almost never needed in order to protect lives.....but lets not even consider the idea of raising taxes, or paying for socialized medicine/Obamacare/Medicaid/whatever.  It's no different than wanting to cut every social program in existence, but not touch defense spending.  It's OK to pay for force, but not quality of life.

Ach....it just makes me irritable to even contemplate the irony.

And yet...the county I live in has decided to have armed deputies at each school for the remainder of the year.  I work in elementary schools every day, so I see them standing outside every since Sandy Hook happened.  They aren't particularly threatening or scary looking to the children, but I can't help but wonder what it says about us.  Adults are so fearful that they spend a lot of resources in a relatively useless exercise.

3.  La Pierre blaming violent video games for mass shootings.  

Uh, I think there is probably a large overlap between people playing shooting/violent video games and people who own guns, or are interested in buying guns at least at the younger end of the gun-owning demographic. If the gun lobby starts condemning first-person shooter video games, they will be biting some of the hands that feed them. Also, some video game makers have actually partnered with firearm manufacturers to promote their products.

4. Fear of the government.

It has become painfully clear to me that there are people I would otherwise categorize as sane, normal people who have bought into the paranoid fantasy that our government might at any moment become a dictatorship, forcefully taking away all guns and oppressing all opposition forcefully. I think there are fringe elements who create these conspiracy-fueled, fear-laden scenarios and that many simply pick up bits and pieces of it through rubbing shoulders with more of the radical elements out there. The ideas filter through, losing some of their outright craziness and clothing themselves in historic incidents as some sort of proof of their correctness.

Germany gets brought up a lot.  And yet, the 21st century in the US looks nothing like the Germany of World War II.

I don't know....those are my random thoughts for right now.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Excellent points, and somewhat neglected. LaPierre is trying to deflect criticism away from his constituency. Arming teachers and bringing inextra police are both ways of saying "we can't reduce the number of dangerous people, so let's increase the number of protectors." That's not insane, but it also has downstream effects of its own, which may be a net loss.

We have 300,000,000 people. We have about one mass shooting a year. How do people think they can generalise what the key factor is and how we might fix it?

Donna B. said...

I have to disagree with your reasoning for not arming teachers.

We trust teachers to care for and train the minds of our children. This doesn't mean every teacher is capable of handling a firearm, but for me, it's not a matter of trusting them.

You are correct that teachers are a mix of people just like the "unwashed masses". As are cops and soldiers who we deem trustworthy to be armed. I'm not well-versed in statistics or privy to all the data, but I still feel pretty safe in saying that at least 98% of people are basically decent. Even the jerk who cuts me off in traffic probably has redeeming value as a human and would -- like some teachers, cops, and soldiers have -- give his life to save a group of children.

I prefer giving teachers the option to be armed, because when the SHTF in a school, the teachers are the adults there and they are charged with protecting the children whether anyone wants them to be or not.

I'm not talking about issuing a gun for every classroom and I think some specialty training should be required -- more and different than cops and soldiers get. It's a different job.

terri said...

Donna....You simply have more faith in teachers and people than I do.

However, I'll give some context. In the past 5 years or so I can recount story after story of teachers involved in criminal activity of one sort or the other here. One guidance counselor was arrested for dealing drugs, one principal for drug use, possible dealing, the teacher I already mentioned tried to have another teacher murdered, on a few different occasions teachers were arrested for having sex with students, ages 14 and 12...those were both women. There are many more instances I could list.

Teachers are just people. And, while I think most people are ok and would help when they could....There are lots of people who I wouldn't want walking around with a gun especially at my kids school. Police officers have extensive training and oversight, are subject to psychological review and are required to stay up to dat e with their skills. WHat they do is their full time-career. No teacher is going to come close to that with a few classes about gun safety and use.

Also, I really don't agree that more guns=more safety. The NRA's answer seems to consist of increasing gun prevalence and gun escalation, rather than promoting de-escalation.

Donna B. said...

It's not that I have so much faith in teachers, it's that we're already trusting them with our children's safety, so I don't understand how we can say they are not the kind of people we'd want to trust.

My experience working in schools is limited. I was a substitute for a few weeks and figured out very quickly that teaching is not for me. But I also have about 20 years experience of having at least one child in school (not counting college) and I have certainly run across teachers I wouldn't trust with a sharpened pencil, much less a gun. They were not in the majority, they were the exceptions just like the ones who who were absolutely great. Most were simply acceptable.

And apparently you have more faith in police officers than I do. Perhaps it's how well we know some members of a group? My sister was a Florida state trooper and while the oversight is there, I'm not sure the training (especially in gun use) is all that extensive.

My Dad, as mayor, runs a small town police department and they don't have much training at all. The sheriff of the county where he lives is... um, not proficient with a gun.

But at least he's not conspiring with drug dealers like the previous sheriff.

Besides, I'm not talking about arming every teacher. I'd propose a special type of license for them. I simply don't see ruling them out as untrustworthy as a group.