I don’t doubt Robert Ginorio’s sincerity or his good intentions (I can’t say the same for the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre) but his idea to train and arm teachers in an effort to protect kids from the likes of Adam Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner, or Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris is unrealistic and sadly uninformed.
I am a retired teacher and a combat veteran. I know first-hand the destructive power of the M-16, the base model for the Bushmaster, which has a cyclical rate of fire of over 600 rounds per minute. That means that even on semi-automatic (the only legal form) it can empty a 30-round magazine in under 10 seconds. Unless you want to sandbag classrooms and issue flak jackets and Kevlar helmets to all staff and students, post sentinels at all the doors, and turn schools into armed camps, when the madman with the assault rifle shows up to kill, the first one to go will be the teacher with the 9 mm Glock.
I don’t care about what kind of training she gets, a kook with an M-16, M-4 or AK-47 will blow her out of her shoes before she gets her Glock out of her briefcase or handbag. Him, too. Most elementary school teachers are women, not high school football coaches. Unless Sandy Hook Elementary was guarded by Seal Team 6 or Rambo himself, the doughnut cop on duty would have been the first victim as he looked out the door to see who was knocking. And let’s face it, what policeman is going to want to spend his day guarding 7-year-olds — at least in high school, the resource officers busy themselves investigating drug deals, stolen iPods, vandalism and catfights.
Guns are, by nature, intimidating. How does an armed teacher deal with a disruptive student, an anxious student, an already frightened student?
How does a teacher with a firearm break up a fight between a couple of kids? Fire one off into the ceiling? How does an administrator deal with an armed teacher? How does a teacher deal with an armed administrator? Do we arm the substitute teachers? Do we all just get used to it? We did in the Army, I suppose, but most of the time the weapons were either locked up in the arsenal or we were on a mission of one kind or another.
Do we really want to turn our schools into armed camps? And what happens when, aware of the escalation, the madman shows up with grenades? Please, stop the absolute insanity of arming teachers! Not in our elementary schools, not our middle schools, not our high schools, not our colleges and universities. As a teacher and a former soldier, the idea makes me sad.
Ginorio also blames our moral decay, craven concern for civil liberties (American Civil Liberties Union) and other liberal ideas for school shootings. We may never know what motivates these shooters. Lanza may have read “Catcher in the Rye” and thought he was saving the children from going over the physical cliff. Or maybe he listened to the news and thought he was sparing them from the horrific end of the Mayan calendar. I don’t know. We just don’t know.
Here is the definition of “militia” from the Oxford English dictionary:
1. a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
2. a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.
3. all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service.
Origin: late 16th cent.: from Latin, literally”military service,” from miles, milit, “soldier.”
I am all in favor of a well-regulated militia: the National Guard. Works for me.
Chris Queally of Scarborough is a retired chairman of the English Department at Thornton Academy. He served in Vietnam as a combat infantryman with the 1st Cavalry in 1969.