American gun culture is unique in its glorification of toxic masculinity. That in addition to the stigmatization of mental health and the almost ubiquitous access to military grade weapons is an amalgam that gives rise to constant instances of gun violence all over the country. As these egregious acts of violence increasingly move into classrooms, legislative inaction is branded with debates about arming teachers.
The president said in a listening session with the survivors of the Parkland shooting that gun free schools were a magnet for bad people. He further suggested that arming inapt teachers would put an end to these tragedies.
The most glaring issue with giving teachers lethal weapons is abuse of power, a problem already inundating the public school system. Everything from verbal to sexual abuse is extremely common. A year-long USA TODAY Network investigation found that education officials actively conceal evidence of abuse and keep allegations secret. This makes it exponentially easier for them to find jobs elsewhere and puts more children in harm’s way. Furthermore, there has been extensive research about black students not only being disciplined more harshly than their peers but also being targeted for punishment. The way black and brown folks are treated by the police is parallel at every level of education, especially in public schools. All this being said, while these form of abuses are extremely damaging, they could become instantly lethal if guns were introduced.
Parents of black and brown children already send their children out into the world with caveats on their existence. There are talks they have to have about the extent of their freedom and their liberty that their peers don’t. The idea that arming even more people with both conscious and subconscious biases in a setting with clear power disparity would be comforting to any of the borders on pure ridicule.
It also normalizes the institution of fear as a form of safety. Schools should not be arenas of constant fear, that in no way creates a learning environment prone to generate healthy and functional members of society. Instead a culture of silencing and intimidation could quickly manifest. Studies have shown that fear based education are counterintuitive. Trying to solve the issue of mass shootings in schools at the cost of children’s quality of learning is a blatant disregard for education. And public schools would bare the brunt of this legislative faux pas, were it to be signed into law.
The idea that guns are somehow immune to laws is proof of the NRA’s deep hold on legislators all over the country. Laws aren’t created because their existence make crimes obsolete. It’s never worked like that. Even the constitution which is held so dearly, still technically says that black people aren’t full people. No piece of American law, regardless of who wrote it and who signed it, is too precious to burn. Nothing about them are sacred.
Schools are not battlefields and teachers are not soldiers. Adding school shooter combat to the responsibilities of overworked and underpaid teachers perpetuates a culture of violence. In a school, a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun is just a shootout with collateral damage that isn’t even old enough to get into an R rated movie.
To say that there is a single government action that could solve the United States gun violence epidemic is naive. But there are ways to start. It’s impossible to solve something you don’t understand. The Dickey Amendment makes it practically impossible to conduct research about gun violence. Repealing that amendment would clear up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do comprehensive research and diagnose this country’s gun problem more concisely.
Further, there is no reason whatsoever, for private citizens to own military grade weapons. If a choice is to be made between saving children today and having an AR-15, incase democracy completely crumbles and the military is turned on citizens, always pick children today.