We need to carefully examine the notion of armed teachers in the classroom. In our bumper sticker world, it sounds good, doesn't it?
A friend of mine called me recently and asked me to consider what would have happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., if the courageous principal had a gun on hand. Would I have approved if she had shot Adam Lanza? Of course I said yes because the 26 people who died would ostensibly have been saved.
I then asked him where the principal would have kept her gun. He declined to answer, saying that "it wasn't important," but then he said, "in a safe or her desk." I asked if it would have been loaded. He replied of course not in an elementary school. He didn't know where the clip or bullets would have been kept, but probably not with the gun. Clearly, my friend hadn't thought this through.
From the time that Lanza shot out the front of Sandy Hook until the moment the principal ran out to stop him seconds passed, not minutes. The time it took to realize what was happening, going to wherever the gun was and loading it would have taken minutes, and the 26 people would not have been saved.
The thought of having teachers armed in a school is truly frightening, and the logistics are just plain ridiculous.
Picture, if you will, a first-grade classroom of 25 to 30 students. The teacher hears a shooter walking down the halls, and locks the door then rounds up the students, some of whom are at the desks, some of whom are standing at a table. They gather in the back of the room, in a closet or in the corner.
Let's assume they have practiced this many times, so they know to go to their place and be quiet. Inevitably, one or more students will be crying. The teacher cannot quiet them because she is grabbing the gun. The shooter hears the noise. The chance of the shooter coming into that room and killing children before the teacher is ready to defend her class is completely feasible.
Let's assume the teacher is able to reach the gun in time. Now we have a revolver against an assault weapon. Pathetic.
Training teachers to handle guns is in itself a problem, but let's assume they are willing and have some expertise with guns. Here are some inevitable logistical questions.
Where would the guns be kept? Please consider junior high and high school students and the issues of mental stability, impulsive behavior and the amazing ability kids have to find forbidden objects.
Would teachers carry the guns on their person? What would they use? A shoulder holster? A waist holster?
Would the gun be locked and loaded? If it wasn't loaded, where would the ammunition be kept?
One of my teacher friends said, "Where would I keep the gun? In my desk? I couldn't even find my lesson plans on my desk! I don't know how I could find a gun. Furthermore, what teacher is at her desk? I was all over the room and if a gunman burst into the room, I would have to leap over books, jackets and kids to get to wherever the gun was."
The morality of teachers with guns is a discussion for another day.
The effect on children would probably be devastating.
So, let's get real and ban assault weapons. Let's talk about mental health. Let's close down gun shows. Let's enforce the existing laws. Let's forget guns in the classroom.
SANDY ASPER lives in Newport Beach.