I’ve waited a month to speak out on this subject. A little over a month ago, Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people in a Florida school. Fifteen of them were children. Maybe it’s time we did something.
I don’t want to argue about gun control. If you’re reading this, you have your own opinions. I don’t want to hear from the children. We are the responsible adults. That’s why we refer to them as children. I don’t often take advice from them because they don’t know enough. For example, our children might demonstrate in our own homes, wanting to keep hand grenades under their beds and a grizzly bear in the back yard, but we as responsible adults will probably say “Maybe next year.” And that’s as it should be. It’s our job to keep them alive until they look and sound and act like responsible adults. This is why we don’t let them vote or drive automobiles. Decision-making is not their job—it’s ours. We do these things because we love them.
I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of our political or societal leanings. Those who don’t are probably the people we need to worry about. What follows is personal opinion. I hope my local community will agree with it—quickly. The way things are going, a school shooting in St. Joseph is not a matter of if–it’s a matter of when.
Let’s divide school shootings into three timeframes:
- Everything we talked about and did prior to the incident.
- The ten seconds during which an active shooter walks into a classroom with one teacher and thirty children.
- Everything we talk about and do after that.
I’d also like to divide our response to the shootings into two phases:
- What we need to do NOW.
- What we can do LATER.
I don’t know about you, but I hate the idea that our schools must become armed fortresses. But I have come around to the undeniable fact that, at this point in time, it must be done. So that belongs in Phase One.
There are opinions out there stating that we need to determine what’s causing the problem. I agree with that. I’ve got my own opinions and my list would probably begin with broadcast, written and social media. We have somehow created in young minds the notion that shooting up a school—committing murder– is a viable way to make a statement. My wife, who was a teacher for many many years, tells me I should add violent computer/phone games to that list. I suspect she’s right. There are other likely suspects—mental illness and a cornucopia of drugs, legal and illegal, currently in use. You can add to the list; this is certainly not the full spectrum of likely culprits. This all belongs in Phase Two.
The good news is that Phase Two and Phase One can begin immediately. It’s possible that if Phase Two is successful, we might be able to do away with Phase One eventually.
Phase One will likely cause some of you to disagree.
I believe we should implement armed guards in our schools. Immediately.
I believe we should implement a policy which requires every teacher to have a gun in the classroom, stored in a biometric gun safe or other storage method so the teacher can get to it quickly and which also safeguards the children—you can work out the details on that.
I believe every teacher should be required to train in gun safety and use—and re-qualify on a regular basis.
I do not believe any teacher should ever be required to use that weapon. Its use must remain a matter of choice.
Before the anti-gun readers shoot my head off, let me explain my reasoning.
I know a couple who are educators. It so happens they don’t own guns, don’t want guns in their homes and have said to me that they could never, under any circumstances, shoot someone–even a deranged and active shooter in their school. I believe they are sincere and I believe that is their rightful choice.
Remember those three time frames above? Number One is irrelevant and Number Three belongs in Phase Two. The only things that matter are those ten seconds in the middle.
I want them to have the weapon, the training and the choice, regardless of their decision. I’ve never been shot at, but I suspect that, given no other alternative, with thirty little lives at stake, I might do something I didn’t expect me to do. I might use that weapon selfishly, since my life is thrust into the bargain. But given no other choices, I might trade that life for theirs. I’m pretty sure I can do heroic things if I’m really scared.
Is it possible that teachers could kill or injure children? Yes. Yes it is, and ultimately, the horrible statistic might be one dead and the remainder saved. At times like these, I hate math, but I would think that, given the circumstances, our courts would be forgiving.
One more thing: I’m tired of hearing about guards who lose their nerve and run away, if that’s what happened. A lot of us, including me, can suddenly be cowardly when bullets are flying and we’re not cornered with children in those fateful ten seconds.