SECTION ONE

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COLUMN FIFTY-THREE, NOVEMBER 1, 2000
(Copyright © 2000 Al Aronowitz)


(Drawing by Ed Adler)

ARE ARMED TEACHERS THE COMING THING?

THE CHILDRENíS WAR

[Because THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST has more enthusiasm for gun control than for firearms, we at first rejected this piece, submitted by someone who understandably wishes to remain anonymous. But then a 13-year-old middle school pupil in West Palm Beach, Florida, shot and killed his teacher with a gun the kid had stolen from his grandfather.  This chilling event, which occurred after the kid was sent home for throwing water balloons, suddenly made the following piece more interesting---if not shocking. Besides, a new school term has begun.  Do  you think teachers ought to come to school armed with something more lethal than books? The NRA might say yes but WE certainly donít.  But then again, maybe the following piece was meant as a satire.  Maybe itís just nothing but a provocative hoax.

[The author, who claims to come from a long line of educators, says she has a Bachelorís degree and a Masterís degree from the State University of New York.  She says she lives in a rural area outside Buffalo, where she substitutes on a regular basis in all areas of curriculum.]

BY SOMEONE WHO PREFERS TO REMAIN UNIDENTIFIED

I am a soldier on the battlefield, protecting myself from an underage enemy.  The enemy can strike wherever and whenever.  And who am I to feel so threatened?  I am a substitute teacher in the rural Northeast.  This is mercenary work.  I follow the call, going from school to school.  Classes range from Kindergarten through twelfth.  I do this job because this is where the money is.  The job can also be rewarding.  Unfortunately as people are finally being made aware of, the job can likewise be deadly.

I belong to a teachersí retirement organization that gives my benefactors cash in the event that I am killed on the job.  This is a very real possibility.  There have been three incidents in the last three years at the schools I teach at.  A six-year-old with a loaded handgun was apprehended on the bus and a middle-schooler made it through an entire day secretly showing his firearm to students before going home and shooting himself in the head.  Next a high schooler walked into class and shot his teacher in the face.

This is why I carry a concealed weapon.  As long as there are no metal detectors, children carrying firearms will be apt to enter the building undetected.  But so will I.  Somebody better be around to help protect the children and adults in the event of a crisis.

Two years ago I went to a sporting goods store and passed a background check.  I then went to the County Pistol Clerk and was approved for a full carry license along with a purchase coupon.  I took the purchase coupon back to the Gun Shop and bought a 14 oz. Tarus 5-shot 38 special.  A lightweight aluminum and steel model felt best in my female hands.  I also bought a box of 38 Special Hollow Base Wad Cutter bullets and went home and learned how to aim, fire and handle the recoil.  I carry the gun in a fanny pack for easy access.  In addition I bought tear gas pepper spray and learned how to use that.  A choice of options is very important depending upon the situation.

Now, thereís the possibility that after reading this, some people will want to go out and kill the messenger, namely, me!  But think of this: is it really shocking for a teacher to carry a gun?  Some schools have armed security.  Whatís the difference between an armed guard and an armed teacher with training and experience in firearms?  I know other teachers who possess guns.  I donít know if the guns are under the front seat of the car or somewhere else close by.  I don't ask because like many other real subjects available for debate, the topic is taboo 

I asked my classes what they thought about the gun toting teacher idea and they told me the idea of teachers they consider inept carrying guns didn't


Recreational gun owners
and professional
gun dealers are all for the idea


appeal to them.  But, they thought that some of their other teachers should

carry guns.  In surprising ways our older children actually take comfort in the idea of armed people in charge.  I think a percentage of educators will be publicly armed in time.  Since the kids are already for it, this will come with their support when they reach voting age.  I already have support from the ranks of knowledgeable recreational gun owners and professional gun dealers.

At the moment itís politically incorrect to publicly support the idea, but privately these thoughts are being discussed.  Truly, how many of we teachers have considered the idea?  My educated guess is many of us have, whether we choose to follow our feelings or not.

You may be unaware of it, but teachers are already involved in contingency plans for the crisis occasion.  If, say, in the middle of the day a message comes over the loud speaker that sounds something like ďMary Mary quite contrary how do your flowers growĒ, well then, we know thereís an armed intruder or a bomb threat or even chemical weapons danger.

Plainly, colleges will someday add crisis management to their teaching majors curriculum.  Weíll learn about necessary guerrilla warfare tactics and battlefield medical procedures.  Itís simply inevitable since guns are here to stay.

The real chiller in my opinion is that the children of the present are simply waiting to be attacked.  But this shouldnít be astonishing.  When I was about ten and in middle school, our building was weekly threatened with bombs.  Weíd be evacuated and sent home.  Then when we went home we could watch the SLA and Black Panther party on TV threatening more places with bombs and guns.  Or we could count the Viet Nam war casualties, as little girls ran naked down the street after a Napalm attack.  We even watched the police shoot us down as we were running around on campus in Ohio.

If you werenít scared to half to death by such events, then you became numb or indifferent and accepted it all as inevitable.  And the numbness and indifference is what I see today.  This is our childrenís heritage.  This is our gift to them.

The older kids are not afraid any more, they simply want to know, "What do we do if attacked?"  As their sub for the day, since I thought the topic was important, I actually told them, ďGet down low while zig zagging and go into the nearest room even if a class is already in there.  Put a desk in front of the door, tape the door windows with paper and get against a wall or under desks and out of site.Ē

I told them NOT to go into the bathroom, which has no locks and no windows.  The kids are grateful for this sort of openness from adults.  They also had their own ideas about what to do.   They just wanted the chance to express themselves.

The kids told me it was no problem to procure weapons---if ever they get the notion.  And in the rural Northeast where most of my neighbors are armed and some not simply with one gun or rifle, but assault weapons and large ammo caches, I know this to be true.  The kids then showed me the window and said theyíd team up and pass the stuff through there.  They said that if somebody really wants to take you out, then somebodyís gonna find a way to take you out.  Right now, all this comes mostly from the mouths of boys.  I know I will quit teaching the day after I hear this from the mouths of girls.

Now, I love these kids, upstarts and all.  And thankfully they feel the same about me.  So what, you may ask, would I do if faced with a crisis?  If ever I killed anyone, I obviously would feel pain and sorrow for the rest of my life.  I would also lose my family, my livelihood, everything I owned and end up in jail for the rest of my life.  BUT, if God forbid I am involved in a life threatening situation and I was without a gun and people were killed while I stood by powerless to help, I donít think I could ever forgive myself.

Like I said, I love these kids.  All my students are family and I will fight to protect them as I would my own.  Thatís what Iím being paid for.  To give them the best I can give them, which now includes my expertise with a gun.  For me, the pain of loss through self-defense is less than the pain of being knowingly un-prepared.

It's plain to me that one day, teachers with arms will be commonplace and I will not have to write this sort of thing anonymously.  We wonít move back to


Drastic times
call for
drastic measures


ďsimpler timesĒ or some such thing, no matter how many kids end up carrying weapons.  The U.S. is the largest arms dealer in the world.  Letís face facts.  Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Iím tired of all the empty talk about ďreform,Ē which is never coming.  Iím tired of this hand-wringing with the inevitability of no action.  I canít wait for the winds of change to blow over the nation while Iím under a barrage of bullets.  Yes I know itís illegal to carry weapons onto school grounds but thatís never stopped anyone intent on doing harm.  Until itís legal for adults to protect themselves from the danger on schools grounds, Iíll be an outlaw.   But hopefully, Iíll be alive.  ##

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