I recently posted a blog post in response to the horrific events of 12-14-12 called Let Our Light So Shine–What It Means to Be Human in a World Where Children Are Gunned Down At School. In it, I suggest that we look beyond guns and blame, and seek to become the change we want to see, something I will be putting into effect in my life (and publicly blogging about it) starting Jan. 2, 2012.
There are no easy answers to preventing this kind of tragedy from happening again. We live in a world where fear and anger govern so much, it’s become the foundation of our human experience. That, more than anything, has to change for anything else to change.
So it’s very alarming to read posts and articles where people want to arm our teachers with guns as the answer to protecting students. I’ll say up front, I would not ever send my kids to a school with armed teachers. There are so many things wrong with this idea, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m not anti-gun, but I don’t think more guns in schools is the answer.
There’s a great article that talks about this legislation for some schools, and points to cases where even highly trained professionals kill and injure innocent victims while trying to take down a dangerous, armed criminal. It also points out that most teachers don’t actually want guns at school. You can read that article here: Teachers with guns is a crazy idea.
Here’s my take on this:
1: I refuse to raise my kids in fear. I know there are dangers out there, and I do my best to prepare them to be smart in a world that can be cruel. They’ve taken some self-defense, they’ve been trained in what to do should someone approach them, but I don’t want them living with that cloud of fear and death hovering over them every time they go to school, and that’s likely what would happen if teachers start packing heat.
2: Where would these guns be kept? If they aren’t strapped to the teachers, then are they kept in the desks? In secured lockboxes? Are they kept loaded, or is the ammo kept somewhere else? Because, you see, if the guns are kept loaded in an unsecured area (like the desk or purse) then they are more easily accessible should the teacher need to KILL SOMEONE who brings a gun to school, but they are also just as easily accessible for the mentally unstable kid or parent who wants to KILL SOMEONE. So now, instead of kids having to hunt down their parents’ guns at home and figure out how to get them to school, we make it super easy for them to just grab and shoot, with dozens of possible guns at their disposal.
If the guns and bullets are kept separate, in locked safe boxes to prevent this kind of thing, then they aren’t really useful to a teacher with 30+ kids to take care of should a school shooting ensue, but it’s still not that hard for unstable kids to figure out a way to break into what is likely not a hugely secure lockbox and get the gun(s).
If the teacher is strapped to their weapon like a law enforcement agent, then holy crap, really? So Mrs. Smith leans over to check my child’s work and my daughter gets a full-on view of a freaking gun in her face!? And what’s to stop an unstable student from grabbing the weapon from the teacher while he/she is busy, you know, actually teaching, then using that gun against their classmates and teacher. Again, this gives unstable students access to way more weapons then they would have otherwise. How is this a good idea?
3: One such proposed law “would have allowed people with permits to carry concealed weapons and with extra training, to bring their guns to traditional “gun-free” zones such as day care centers and schools. And by “extra training,” the bill called for an additional eight hours and another 94 rounds on the firing range.”
Seriously? Eight hours of training and they’re prepared to carry a live, concealed weapon to my kids’ school and class, and KILL SOMEONE (possibly one of their own students) should things get violent, all the while making sure the gun isn’t ever at risk for being used against them or their students, all the while also trying to, you know, TEACH our kids. Um, really? Who thinks this is a good idea? It takes a tremendous amount of skill and training, and a certain psychological disposition, to be able to act instantly to KILL SOMEONE (especially a child, a student, someone you know), in a way that doesn’t put innocent bystanders (our kids) at risk. Teachers don’t usually have this training or disposition. Nor do they have the free attention to play armed guards while TEACHING our kids. I’m sure there are some exceptions to this, but I know a lot of teachers and I don’t personally know any exceptions. Adding guns to this equation only escalates the risk of violence by gun.
4. Teachers are human. Some of them can become mentally unstable, or even abusive to kids. This isn’t the norm, and I know a lot of really amazing teachers, so please don’t think I’m suggesting that teachers are bad. They aren’t. They do the most amazing work for crap pay and they love our kids. But they are human. Humans can break. I had some fantastic teachers in high school, but there’s one in particular that I would not have felt safe with had he had a gun. He had a temper and he was a jackass to his students. What would happen if he lost it one day? This may be an unlikely event, but it’s something to consider. Who’s monitoring all these untrained (and 8 hours of ‘training’ still makes you untrained in my eyes) teacher with guns and kids?
5. What kind of world do we want to live in?
To me, this is the crux of the issue. Do we want to live in a world where our teachers and child-care providers are being asked to shoot and KILL people in defense, all the while trying to teach from a place of love, joy and care? I don’t.
Naturally, I don’t want to live in a world where school shootings can occur either, but we need to look at ways to heal our world, not tear it apart with more violence. We need to find better ways of identifying at risk students and finding more effective ways of helping them. We need to change our approach to mental health and treat the whole person, the whole society, not with more medication and guns, but with a healthier life overall.
There’s a study (I can’t remember which one, this was grad school research and it was a long time ago) but there was a study done, I believe in a prison and a high risk school. Basically by CHANGING THE DIET of this school and this prison, both of which were known for violent behavior–and the school was for high risk kids who acted out violently–but by changing the diet to a whole foods diet with the kids and inmates farming themselves and using that food for their meals, that change alone dramatically changed the behavior of the inmates and children in these places. Violence was reduced by extraordinary amounts. The kids at school started to perform well on tests. The results were really dramatic. This might have been two different studies, and I can’t remember more of the details, I apologize, but here is one article that talks about diet and violence and the links between a nutrient deprived diet and violence:
I point this out as an opportunity to discuss other ways, ways that don’t involve arming teachers or drugging kids, that might help change the world we live in. See, the real answers aren’t going to be easy. They don’t involve a bandaid, they involve lifestyle changes, and a change in priorities. They involve less focus on things that make money for interest groups and the pharmaceutical company, and more on things like eating from the earth and shifting from a fear-based society to one of hope and peace through a change in the way we think and live.
There’s a school we want to send our kids to. It farms its own food and feeds that to the kids. It’s a school known for high academics and they have a great sports department. About 20% of the graduates (it goes from kindergarten to 12th grade but has the older kids on a different campus) are in the top 2% of the country on the SATs. But to attend, we have to bring in an extra 1k a month to pay for our kids to go there.
Why can’t this kind of environment expand beyond psych studies and private schools? Instead of sinking money into gun training, how about we supply schools with a whole foods menu, or help establish farms at school. It’s not the only answer, but it’s one that would lead to more healing than teachers packing heat.
There’s clinical evidence to support that the health of our digestive tract and the nutrients in our diet affect mood, anxiety, ADD, autism, and so many other things. Here’s a short article about the Brain-Gut Connection. What we feed ourselves and our children affects our brain, our behavior, everything. There’s also evidence that medications given to children for ADD and ADHD can have serious side effects including violent behavior, and that many of the shooters in these school tragedies have been on these medications, or coming off of them.
We’re not just dealing with criminals. We’re dealing with mental illness, an imbalance in our society and world. We need new ways of treating mental illness. New ways of nurturing our children’s bodies to support emotional health and balance. New ways of responding to those in need that targets high risk families and gets them real help.
We don’t need teachers with guns.
I’d like to hear from you. What do you think/feel about this? Are you a teacher? Would you feel safer carrying a gun? Parents, would you send your kids to school with armed teachers? What about guards? If there were trained guards on premises, is that a better answer? (Though I believe Columbine had that, and other sites like a military school also had a shooting, with trained personal with guns… so I’m not sure that actually makes a difference).
What kind of world do you want to live in?
Join me here January 2 for 28 Dragon Days of Transformation and become the change you want to see.