Firearms are wrong answer to question of school safety

As a new school year approaches, many parents are less concerned about their children’s comprehension of reading, writing, and arithmetic than they are about simple survival.Firearms enthusiasts suggest that arming teachers in the classroom or providing armed guards on school grounds would enhance safety. It’s the old National Rifle Association mantra that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” Or something inane like that.In fact, arming teachers with pistols is akin to arming surgeons with hatchets. Both teacher and surgeon are trained to improve the lives of those in their charge, one by education, the other by healing. Pistols and hatchets would be tantamount to an admission of failure. You need to shoot some former student who went crazy or hack off a body part of some patient who didn’t properly heal?

There’s something drastically wrong with that show-and-tell picture.

Instead of arguing about the effectiveness of firepower, perhaps we should be joining in a more fundamental discussion. Topics for assignment might include:

  • Mental health: Why aren’t we talking about this? Not just the issue of screening potential gun owners for mental health issues, but the overarching question of what as we as a society doing to help, house, and care for those among us who might pose a danger to themselves and their neighbors.
  • School counseling might be a great place to begin. Why is there such a mad push to decrease funding for education and all of its ancillary benefits when there’s a crisis of disaffected, alienated children and young people staring us right in the face? We ought to be increasing our financial support schools, both inside the classroom and outside. Counseling, clubs, music, art, and yes, sports provide outlets to expression and inroads to the future.
  • Parental involvement: It’s tough when a conservative-backed “austerity” economy is dragging households down into the depths of financial despair—tough to find the time to participate in your kids’ educational development when parents need to hold down multiple jobs just to put food on the table.  The simple answer to this conundrum is to vote for government representatives who are genuinely interested in improving the job market and raising the standard of living, rather than providing tax breaks for the rich and promoting outsourcing jobs abroad while downsizing here at home. Meanwhile, make time to talk to your children about what’s bothering them, how to make things better. Ask your schools how you can help promote student health and safety, both mental and physical.

The choice is clear: reclaim our schools as sanctuaries of learning and expression, or trundle our kids off every day to the OK Corral.

Originally published at

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