By Jim Gifford
I recall from my youth the cliché “Duck and Cover”. This was the catch-phrase created for our nuclear war drills which were designed to prepare all children at school to hide or “duck” under their own desks in order to survive a hydrogen bomb.
Yes, survive a nuclear holocaust. No bombs were ever dropped during this time, so we can only guess how effective Duck and Cover would have been, thank God.
Today’s children are being readied for a recent national threat: mass school shootings. The teaching profession is set to not only teach, nurture and inspire their students, but also to shoot them if necessary.
The “Duck and Cover” campaign was a simple-sounding answer to solving the problem of calming the population. My parents believed that there could be a nuclear war at any moment. If it occurred during school hours, Duck and Cover would theoretically keep their children safe. It was almost certainly not sufficient to protect them, but it gave everyone a believable solution to a terrifying worry.
Washington and Nashville are now encouraging arming some of our teachers. The goal is to help calm parents and politicians about any potential mass shooter who might massacre their children. Teachers packing guns is the proposed solution to Columbine, Sandy Hook
and, now Parkland.
“Teachers Packing” is easy to say, simple sounding catch-phrase designed to mollify parents and politicians, just like “Duck and Cover”.
After almost 70 years of living in this great country I have developed an aversion to any solution to a problem that sounds too good to be true. Being a teacher, currently, and for the last 22 years has given me an appreciation of life in the modern-day high school classroom. My conclusion: teachers carrying loaded guns is not a wise answer to this threat, because it is simplistic. Most citizens do not sense the fragility of a well-functioning classroom.
What could go wrong?
Unintended consequences, unanswered questions:
- Weapon stolen from class,
- Accidental discharge,
- Are teachers allowed to instigate shootings?
- Will weapon be carried openly?
- Who pays for training?
- Who pays for liability insurance?
- Who does the training?
- What weapons will be approved/disapproved?
- Who decides in this Brave New World?
- Will schools be branded as dangerous environments?
- Will schools become thought of as minimum-security prisons, or armed camps?
- Is a welcoming, nourishing environment being traded for the illusion of a safe one?
- What keeps a Barney Fife-like teacher from being armed?
- What keeps any school district from trading an expensive, but effective Student Resource Officer (SRO) program for a cheaper “teacher packing” one?
These are some of the possible, or I believe, probable phenomena that will occur once America crosses this bridge. Arming teachers is a quick fix. It is a course that will not easily be altered. Unlike “Duck and Cover”, it most assuredly will be tested.
What are we risking for our children, our future?
Jim Gifford is an English Teacher at Oakland High School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is also a Vietnam War veteran (U.S. Navy), and became a qualified “expert” to use a .38 caliber handgun while he served. However, he is against having loaded weapons in the classroom.