A Transition: Thoughts on Christmas, Guns and Arming Teachers

by Camille on December 24, 2012

I want to write about Christmas.

I want to tell you more about the things I mentioned in my Taking Back Christmas post, complete with warm, tinsel-tinged tales of giving more and loving all.

I want to tell you all about how I (by some miracle) successfully cooked Christmas dinner for Charlie’s family and how my house was a wonderful, loud, crazy mess of merriment with singing toddlers, box fort wrestling, and salsa dancing in the kitchen. I want to share with you the warmth of eating third dessert while curled up under an afghan on my mom’s couch surrounded by people I love.

But last week, something horrible happened in our country, and I wrote some thoughts about that. And honestly, I don’t know how to transition. It seems such a non-sequitur to move from the tiny, lifeless bodies of innocents to holiday cheer.

Saturday saw the last of the funerals for the mass shooting victims as Ana Marquez-Greene, Emilie Parker, and Josephine Gay were laid to rest. In the week since they were killed, lines have been drawn in the sand as Americans debate gun-control laws once again.

I am prayerful that something positive will emerge from this tragedy, but with the NRA rejecting the idea of any new gun laws, it will no doubt be a long and bitter battle to engender meaningful change.

As I’ve written previously, I do not believe guns should be banned completely. I do, however, believe in finding a compromise that will protect gun owner’s rights while keeping assault weapons out of the hands of criminals and madmen. I hope for intelligent dialogue based on research rather than snarky Facebook one-liners or angry rants.

Kristin A. Goss, associate professor of public policy at Duke, believes that with its recent position, the NRA missed a significant opportunity to engage in creating a solution. She wrote:

With Friday’s defiant statement, the National Rifle Association massed its troops along familiar fronts in the culture war — and even opened some new battle lines. But it also squandered an opportunity to participate in reasonable dialogue with an America that has begun losing its appetite for political extremism….

Most Americans understand the causes are complex and are sensible enough to see that a multipronged approach involving personal, social and public policy action will be needed.

The NRA is refusing to even discuss the role of American gun laws (or the lack thereof) in mass shootings. In fact, they’re now advocating for putting an armed guard in every school. An NRA official even suggested arming teachers

Riiiight. As someone who taught in a public high school for several years, may I just share the first few things that pop into my head?

ARE YOU INSANE?!

- I’m not adverse to having an armed, trained policeman at schools. Many schools already have SRO (School Resource Officers), and their presence helps create order. However, I don’t think SROs are really the answer for preventing mass shootings. Many high school campuses are huge. For instance, I went to a high school that is the size of a small community college and is spread out across more than 10 separate buildings. Even with a super-speedy golf cart, it would still take at least a minute for an officer to move from the administration building to the cafeteria. Probably longer. Do you know how many bullets an AR-15 can shoot in a minute? Hundreds. Unless the armed guard has telepathic powers and just happens to know where the shooter will decide to start, he won’t be all that effective. Sure, eventually the guard might make it to the shooter and manage to kill him without first being shot himself or killing dozens of others in a shoot-out, but wouldn’t it be better if the shooter was never able to access his weapon in the first place?

-Okay, so then, surely having every teacher carry a gun will ensure a quick and efficient response to any threats……right? Except, I weight 115 lbs. Many of my students weighed well over 200 lbs. and towered over me. With little effort, many of them could have pinned me against a wall or knocked me out cold…..then taken my gun. Have you spent any time around teenagers? They are wonderful. Often, they are also impulsive, hormonal, angry, depressed, jealous, and incapable of foreseeing the long-term consequences of actions. I’ve personally seen a student bash another’s head into a locker for somehow disrespecting his distant cousin. I’ve seen how books, pencils, purse straps, shoes, acrylic nails, belts, and bathroom mirrors all become instant weapons in the heat of conflict. What happens when that angry, cornered student is suddenly within arm’s reach of a loaded weapon?

- How much extra are you going to pay teachers for carrying guns? (Nevermind. Let’s not get crazy and start paying teachers for extra work outside of teaching. They make so much already.) Will it be a requirement? Who will pay for the guns, the ammunition, and the training? Will teachers be required to attend gun-saftey classes? Target-practice?

Again, I realize this is a complicated issue, but I hope that Americans will do the hard work of finding a solution that protects our children. Because today, while I sit beside the twinkly lights of my mother’s Christmas tree, drinking cider and knowing my daughter is sleeping safely upstairs, there are too many parents struggling to breathe as they try to make it through another day under the burden of unspeakable loss.

Thus, for your consideration, here are some additional links regarding the shooting. I offer them with a prayer that those on both sides of this debate will open their hearts and minds and move to common ground in the interest of keeping our children safe.

And if you’re still reading, I do wish you a merry Christmas. :-)

Confessions of a Former Gun Enthusiast from Jesus Creed

And so I say to every man who considers themself to be a man of God… don’t be impotent. The time is now…man up, show your power in a Christ-like way, make a difference to protect the next potential victims of gun related violence. Take action to change laws, or to create new laws that will serve to protect people. Be willing to cash in any gun that serves no other purpose than to kill another person. Be willing to hunt wisely and responsibly. And if you don’t know how to hunt wisely, take some courses. Stop shopping at stores that profit from the sale of guns. Change your stock portfolio if you’re invested in the gun trade. The hand gun you may own- hand it in to the police, cash it in, or store it at a gun club. Guns are not your sword and shield…Christ is!

Christianity and Guns 2 from Jesus Creed

The church should lead the way in exhibiting peaceful approaches to life and conflict, and Christians should lead the way in seeking — at the least — serious examination of gun laws and gun safety and access to guns. How many have to die before this is an issue? How many times to do we have to say America has a gun violence problem?

the inconvenient truth about mental health and gun control from Rage Against the Minivan

Antisocial Personality Disorder is difficult to diagnose. Most people with APD will never receive a formal diagnosis. There are many reasons, but primarily it’s because they don’t tend to seek treatment or view themselves as having an issue. Therefore, they avoid contact with mental health professionals who would be able to offer a diagnosis….

…We cannot legislate treatment or isolation of people with APD or Schizophrenia. They will always be in the general public, and most of the time they will go undiagnosed.  We cannot force them into treatment. We cannot isolate them.  We cannot go on a witch hunt, trying to diagnosis every person we know who struggles with intimacy or empathy as being a sociopath.

So what can we do?

We can change our gun laws to make sure that only mentally competent people can own a gun. 

If not now, when? from Heather L. Barmore

What happened on Friday was a tragedy that has rocked us all to our cores because six and seven year olds should be looking forward to the Holidays not placed in caskets. It’s unbearable and what happens when no action is taken. So, when people on Friday said that it was “too soon” to make this about politics, I responded, “If not now, when?” When is the right time? The right time is always after and much too late. May I be frank and crass? I’m sick of this shit happening. I’m sick of attempts and dialogue being started in the wake of a tragedy only to have it languish. The truth of the matter is the time is now to put people, politicians especially, on the spot. To turn discussion into action. For this — the Tucsons, the Auroras and the Newtowns — to end.

4 Questions Every Evangelical Church Should Be Asking (in Light of the Shooting in Newton) from Matthew Paul Turner

Far too many evangelical churches promote the freedom to bear arms like it’s mentioned in the Beatitudes. And in case you’re wondering, it isn’t mentioned in the Beatitudes. Supporting the Second Amendment is one thing, rallying for the freedom to purchase and own assault rifles is quite another. Over the last few days, some of the loudest, and most obnoxious “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” rants have come from the mouths of conservative evangelicals. Being pro “gun control” does not equal being “anti gun”.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason December 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I majored in English and minored in marksmanship. Plus, I’ve seen several Rambo movies, so I think I’m fully prepared to carry a firearm at school and thwart an attack if need be.

In all seriousness, you articulated the glaring impracticality–not to mention danger–of arming teachers.

As to the greater gun control debate, I can’t stomach another “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” spurious argument.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/this-modern-world-fill-in-the-blank-generic-gun-massacre-cartoon-667413/

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Camille December 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Hah! Awesome cartoon. Sad, but so true. And Jason, if you’ve seen Rambo, then you’re obviously more than qualified. I watched the latest Bourne movie today, so I’m pretty sure I could handle things as well. Heck, I could probably sense approaching drones, wrestle a wolf, and scale walls with my bare hands too.

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