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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 13: Stand and Teach



Rant: to speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way. A tirade.


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Rant.

This veteran’s rant about arming teachers is going viral.

This veteran being me, of course. Seems some clickbait site called Bored Panda picked up a thread I wrote on Twitter and declared it a rant. I think they meant it as a compliment, but I can’t help but feel like John Goodman at the end of Atomic Blonde, “Cocksucker? Really?”

Bored Panda wasn’t the only one. My comments appeared on a number of sites and have been shared on Twitter itself thousands of times and viewed by more than 1.4 million people.

And like Bored Panda, a number of people described my comments as a rant.

Specifically, a tirade against guns.

And isn’t that interesting?


But, I’m getting ahead of myself.


On March 12th, President Trump declared (via Twitter):

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Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House. Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!.......

It was his usual 5AM declaration from the presidential toilet, hyperbolic, chock-a-block with non sequiturs, and full of straining and groaning and falsehoods – some obvious, some less so.

But it was the bit at the end, that’s what jumped out at me, “Highly trained expert teachers.”

Highly trained expert teachers.

Now, it was pretty obvious that the NRA would show up before Trump finished wiping his ass. Money would change hands. Favors would be exchanged. And Trump would back-pedal on bump-stocks and background checks and age limits and all the other gun control measures he’d been promising since the Parkland shooting. 

And that’s exactly what happened.

Within a day, Trump was walking back his new found passion for actually doing something while pretending that he wasn’t and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia. Or was that Eurasia?

But not that last bit.

No, not that last bit. The NRA loves that idea. Stand and fight. Put more guns into schools. Arm the teachers.

The “highly trained expert teachers.”

And…

…Wait a minute, highly trained expert teachers?

Highly trained by who?

Experts in what?

Trump never explains himself. He certainly never explained this statement. He just assumes he knows what he means. But does he? Does he? Because Donald Trump has a very long record of not understanding complex topics in any detail whatsoever. Instead, he fancies himself an idea man. The leader. He makes some vague pronouncement and expects everybody else to work out the details.

And nobody ever asks for the details.

You want to arm teachers?

You want to let teachers carry guns in the classroom?

Highly trained, expert teachers, you say.

Well, then I think we need to ask for the details.

Yes, I think we need to ask some questions, demand the answers in detail.

I mean, hell, if you wanted to teach evolution, or women’s health, or civil rights, parents would have questions. They’d show up and demand answers.

But guns?

Nothing. Go ahead, arm the teachers, let’s see what happens.

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We won’t know until we try it out, he says. Why would that be so bad?

Tell me, are you willing to test your theory with your children?

Or were you planning on risking other people’s kids to find out?


So I asked.


I wrote a 23-part thread on Twitter – which was itself based on a Facebook post I wrote the day after the Parkland shooting, asking the following questions:

“Highly trained expert teachers" Highly trained Highly trained by ... who? Who designs the training. To what criteria? To what standards?

It matters, you know.

You don’t just pull training out of your ass.

Not if you want it to be effective. And we are talking about guns here, aren’t we? In classrooms, with your kids.

Training is designed to meet a specific requirement, to achieve a specific goal.

These people are teachers. Would you stand for it if they just winged it, when it comes to math and science and home economics? No? That’s right. There’s an approved curriculum, designed for each specific grade, that takes into account things like material appropriate to age group, whether or not there was any previous education on the topic (i.e. you don’t start math with AP Calculus in kindergarten, there are prerequisites), and whether the subject is practical or abstract (big difference in the objectives of shop class and the aforementioned AP calculus. One teaches a practical skill, the other abstract thinking). And so on.

Building curriculum is a skill in and of itself.

When you talk about training teachers to carry guns in the classroom, you’re talking about a lot more than just facility with a firearm.

Let me give you an example: When I went through the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, which trains military and law enforcement to be Firearms Instructors, much of the class was focused on the practical aspects of teaching professional firearms handling and shooting. You had to already be an experienced and trained shooter to even qualify for the class in the first place, coming from the military or from law enforcement. Because we were training to become professional firearms instructors, we spent a lot of time on the range at Springfield ourselves, practicing professional shooting techniques under close supervision. But we also spent a lot of time in the classroom learning not only the theory of firearms instruction but also such things as liability and case law for firearms instructors, along with how to develop training plans, both practical and classroom, tailored to the specific needs of our particular environment. I trained with cops, with federal nuclear materials guards, with armored car guards, and members of various militaries. Each of our requirements were different. When we became certified instructors, our students’ requirements would be different. Thus, the objective of the training was to give us the skills, knowledge, and expertise to safely tailor firearms training to the various needs of our agencies. The certification was to make us legally responsible for it and for whatever happened under our tutelage.

Police officers, guards, military personnel, how each uses a firearm varies greatly, depending on many, many factors.

A police officer’s rules regarding the use of deadly force are very, very different from the military’s Rules of Engagement, which often vary between conflict zones and are subject to change within each zone depending on phase of conflict, political considerations, international agreement, and so on.  Prison guards, armored car guards, and those guys I mentioned up above who guard nuclear facilities have very different requirements, very different considerations, very different priorities.


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So, when I ask you: these teachers will be highly trained by who? Don't just say, "the local police department" or something similar.

That’s the wrong answer, or at best it’s incomplete.

You’re talking about armed teachers. Not cops. Not Marines. Teachers. You’re talking about putting a gun in a classroom full of young children, teenagers, perhaps college students. You’re talking civilians, kids. You’re talking about a teacher, whose primary job is to teach, carrying a loaded weapon among children. You’re talking about practical considerations far beyond mere ability to shoot straight. You’re talking about responsibility – where failure of responsibility results in dead kids. So, you need to consider all the requirements necessary for that teacher to safely carry a weapon in the classroom on a normal day. A day where they don’t have to pull it out and shoot somebody.


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Above that, you then need to look at exactly what is you expect that teacher to do in an emergency.

There is a hell of a lot more to an engagement than just shooting straight. This isn’t the firing range. It’s also not a military battlefield and not the mean streets patrolled by cops.

You need something beyond the military’s rules of engagement and the cop’s rules of deadly force.

It’s a special circumstance with unique requirements, priorities, and considerations.

You can’t just wade in with guns blazing.

Well, you can, but you’re going to regret it.


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You’d just turn training and certification over to some private contractor without asking any questions?

You’d let some private contractor train teachers to carry guns in a room with your children, and you think asking questions is stupid?

Well, then let me ask another stupid question: how do you hire the contractor?

I mean, have you ever been involved in a government contract? The school district is a government agency. You want the agency to hire a contractor – using your tax dollars. What’s in the contract? I mean, if you don’t ask any questions how do you know what to put in the contract? Moreover, how do you hold the contractor to the contract, if you haven’t specified in detail what the requirements are?

If you’ve ever dealt with this sort of thing, then you know that these kinds of contracts must specify every detail. And there are massive repercussions if you miss something. It can end up costing you millions, or worse.

Look here: if your kid’s school wanted to start some new extracurricular activity, sports team, band camp, Challenger center, you’d ask questions, at least I hope you would. You’d expect the School Board to ask questions. Who’s running it? What is their training? Are they certified? By who? How much is it going to cost? Where does the money come from? If this requires travel, who’s doing the driving and what’s that guy’s qualifications? Kids staying overnight somewhere, boys and girls, and what’s the protocol here? Will the school’s insurance cover this? And so on. This is basic stuff. If you as a parent are too damned dumb to ask the questions, guaranteed somebody in the school staff is asking or you need a new school board, Administrator, and school district lawyer. And the answers to those standard questions tell you whether or not you can do it.

If you don’t ask the questions, how do you even know if you can afford the training?

I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

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Tell me, what’s in a concealed carry class?

What concealed carry class teaches you to face down an active shooter in a school full of children?

Show me that class.

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Please describe how the requirements of an Air Marshal, i.e. a trained, certified federal law enforcement officer who typically operates undercover and whose primary consideration is the safety of aircraft in the air is in anyway whatsoever similar to a civilian teacher whose primary goal is teaching and who operates as an overt authority figure in a classroom full of kids.

Note also, that an air marshal’s training was developed to very, very specific requirements and requires specific prerequisites such as a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Criminology, or similar, and requires several years experience in law enforcement before you can even apply. Were you planning on leveraging that training on a teacher’s normal education and accreditation? Well? Something tells me this person didn’t even bother to look up the requirements for Air Marshal before making the suggestion. And again, we’re talking about putting guns in the classroom with kids, you can’t just pull it out of your ass.


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Again, a pilot’s requirements to carry a weapon in the cockpit are very, very different from a teacher in the classroom.

A pilot’s primary legal responsibility is to maintain control of the aircraft. Even if it means everybody in the passenger cabin dies. It’s not to shoot it out with a terrorist in coach. A pilot carries a gun only to ensure the security of the cockpit.  Because if bad actors get control of the aircraft, all lives onboard are forfeit. The US military will shoot that plane down before it can become another weapon of mass destruction.

Now, how is that similar to a teacher’s responsibility in an active shooter situation? Does she worry that the shooter will take control of the school and fly it into a skyscraper? Or is her duty to protect her students? The priorities of these situations are completely and totally different and to suggest they aren’t displays a profound ignorance of the subject.

But he wasn’t done:


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I find it interesting that when I ask a simple question: who does the training? What’s the curriculum? The responses are “your hysterical rant” and “you’re a fucking idiot.”


We’ll come back to that.


The simple truth of the matter is that there is no training for arming teachers in the classroom.

We don't train soldiers for that.

We don't train cops for that.

So we're going to need special training, beyond the mechanics and theory of combat arms to include the psychology of killing a child in an active shooter situation.

Do you think you could do it?

Kill a child?

Even one pointing a gun at you? Do you really think you could do it?

Turns out a lot of people do, apparently, believe they could kill a child without hesitation. No guilt, no remorse. Like a terminator.

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You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to kill a child. Depending on size of course. And color, I’m guessing, given that this is the standard “but the black kid looked big and scary for his age” excuse used every time police shoot another African American youth down in the street.


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Get a grip, killing people is easy. Killing kids, why we do it all the time. Doesn’t require any special training. It’s easy. Get a grip.

And I wonder how many of these people have actually shot another human being?

How many have taken fire themselves?

Easy, they say. Easy.

I guess that’s why the VA wards are full of PTSD cases. Because shooting people is easy.


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This guy claimed to be a Marine.

I have little doubt he was telling the truth. He talks like a Marine. He thinks like a Marine, in terms of acceptable losses and killing the aggressor.

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Some kids are going to die. Hopefully just less, he says. Hopefully not yours, I guess.

That’s a very military mindset. A necessary one on the battlefield, the brutal reality of war, the cold equations that all commanders must face.

But is that the mindset you want in the classroom?

How many dead kids are an acceptable loss?

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So, we’ve established the minimum acceptable loss, one innocent kid per 17. What’s the maximum? Two, four, ten? I’d love to see this debated and a ratio established at your next school board meeting. I would love for the president to face the nation and tell us what the acceptable loss ratio is. How many kids are you willing to kill and still call it victory?

“If that coach had shot back and killed the shooter but accidentally killed a student so you had one victim instead of 17 you wouldn’t be good with that?”

No. Hell no. No, I wouldn’t be good with that.

Not even if it was your kid.

Your kid shouldn’t have to be sacrificed because you’re a goddamned idiot. The hell is the matter with you? We’re talking about kids here, not Marines. Up above somebody said I’d be amazed at how easy it is to kill a kid. That doesn’t amaze me. What amazes me is how willing these people are to sacrifice other people’s children.

Do you really want a teacher with a gun in your classrooms who thinks in terms of acceptable losses?

You wonder if maybe that teacher is thinking about which kids can be sacrificed and which ones can’t?

You wonder if maybe one of those sacrificial kids is yours?

Generals have to think this way.

Not teachers.


And you? Are you maybe starting to see why military training isn’t the right training in this situation?


Police very often develop a distant relationship with the public. Us and them.

Sometimes, depending on the situation, that can become a siege mentality.

Not always, and not all the time, but it’s pretty common and you don’t have to look very far to find it. Nowadays, in a lot of places, the police feel themselves under attack. They’re not wearing all that body armor for nothing you know. And even in the most benign of situations, a cop always has to be at the ready, suspicious, alert. A routine traffic stop can turn deadly without warning.  Drugs, intoxication, mental illness, domestic violence, any encounter with the public can go sideways. It makes a lot of cops paranoid – and the ones that don’t develop hyperawareness often end up dead. How many stories have you read where cops shot a suspect who was reaching to pull up his pants? A dozen? Two? Including the infamous case in Texas a few year ago where cops shot a man crawling in his hands and knees. Why? Well, because cops don’t want to get killed. In situations like that, they are hyper-alert, amped, and anything that appears a threat results in reflexive gunfire. And in a lot of cases, later, it turns out they’d shot an unarmed man. I trained with cops. I was trained in similar procedures. I taught it. But don’t take my word for it. Do the research yourself, there are a hell of a lot of studies on this subject. A lot of cops worry about it, worry about becoming paranoid and detached and shooting some poor chump who was just pulling up his britches.

And there’s no good answer, because being a cop is a damned tough and dangerous job – particularly given that much of our population is armed with military grade weaponry.

So, you’re going to have a certain degree of paranoia and detachment.

Is that the mindset you want in a classroom?

Is that really the mindset you want in a teacher? One where they must regard all children as potential threats, potential enemies, potential targets? Where they must be prepared to kill children at any moment? Imagine where that goes over the long term, that siege mentality – hell, you don’t have to imagine it, look at your increasingly militarized police departments.

Police training isn’t the right training either.

Cops are cops and teachers are teachers and they have very different outlooks, responsibilities, and priorities.

If we are to arm teachers, then we need something new. Something specifically designed for their unique requirements.

Who pays for it?

Combat arms is a perishable skill, so how often is refresher training and re-qualification mandated?

And again, who does that training? Who provides certification? Who does the background checks? Who does the psychological screening? Who decides who can and cannot carry in a school?

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Ah, our taxes pay for it.

Well, then why wouldn’t we get a say in how that training is conducted? And to what standards. And how often. If our taxes are paying for, then it’s no longer a matter of some private citizen carrying concealed on his or her own time. If our taxes pay for training teachers to carry firearms in our schools, we’re are de facto creating a whole new armed service, like the Air Marshals or Homeland Security or the National Guard. Those people answer to us via our government. You damned right I got questions.

And if our taxes aren’t paying for this training, if we make the teachers pay for it themselves, can you then mandate the specific details of the training?

These aren’t frivolous questions. Without very specific guidelines and legal controls, if you don’t ask the questions in advance, well, then the system can be abused. If taxes pay for training, what’s to keep teachers from defrauding that process for their own benefit? Flip that around, what’s to keep a liberal school board from leveraging so many requirements on training and certification that no teacher can afford to pay for it out of their own pocket?

You didn’t think of that, did you?

Don’t think any of this would happen? You haven’t been paying attention. This kind of stuff happens all the time.

If a teacher wants to be armed, but is judged by whatever authority to be unfit for whatever reason, what are legal repercussions? Can the teacher sue to change the judgement? Who is the final arbiter? Who pays for the legal challenge?


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Really? Mrs. Johnson keeps leaving her hogleg in the bathroom by accident. Mr. Smith keeps dropping his gun on the floor because he can’t afford a decent holster. You have to take them to court to prevent them from carrying in your school? And if your school can’t afford that, then what? You just let these two goofs continue to mishandle their weapons around your kids?

What if the teacher is a Muslim? A Black Panther who has expressed what his white neighbors consider anti-American sentiment? But he’s an upstanding citizen with an excellent record and he’s got a concealed carry permit and he’s passed all the classes … but the authorizing agency turns him down for his skin color or religion or because he took a knee during the Anthem? Don’t think it will happen? It will. And then what?

How do you control who can and cannot carry in your schools fairly, without that process being abused or corrupted?

You tell me that’s easy. Great. Let’s see your plan. The one approved by your school district lawyers.

What’s that? You don’t have one?

No, of course you don’t.

Who do these "specially trained people" answer to in an active shooter situation?

Is the principal also the commanding general? Or is the school police officer now part of the chain of command? What's their training to direct a tactical response by amateurs in such a situation?

What's the doctrine for armed teachers in an active shooter situation?

Remain in their classrooms? Take to the halls to conduct sweep and clearing operations? Are they trained to work together? Or are they Lone Wolf McQuade?

You have to have a plan before the shooting starts



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You see it?

The assumptions.

Well, of course, there will be a chain of command!  These people will train together, he says confidently, and know who to answer to and what to do. And that person, whoever it is, will be qualified to command. Of course they will. Specially trained by … somebody. To some vague undefined standard. With your kids lives in the balance. Hoorah!

You ever wonder why the military is structured the way it is? Why there are officers and enlisted? You ever wonder at the reason for an officer’s commission? The legalities of it? Why officers and enlisted swear the same oath with one crucial difference? Do you even know what that difference is and why it exists? It’s about legal authority, about legal responsibility, about legal accountability. The military chain of command has very, very specific authority, responsibility, and accountability under a special set of laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Failure, dereliction of duty, abuse, incompetence, all have strict legal penalties.

Cops have something similar, though they answer to civilian law.

So, this chain of command for teachers, the one that can order and direct deadly force, what legal authority is that based on? What are the limits of that authority? What are the responsibilities? Who is accountable?

This guy, the one in the tweet above, he claims to have been a Marine. If true, it would have to have been a fairly junior one. A rank that never had to worry about ordering men to their death, ordering them to kill. His job was to point and shoot, kill on command without concern, to do and die and never wonder why.


Is that what you want in a teacher?


How do you insure the school?

Because you going to have to insure the school.

Are the specially trained people personally liable for their fire? If they hit an innocent kid, if they kill an innocent kid or cripple a child for life? Or is the school responsible?

Can the armed teacher be held responsible for failure to stop an active shooter? You can certainly be held accountable for failure to stop an aggressor in the military. You can be as a police officer too. So, what about teachers? If the teacher was "highly trained" but failed to stop the shooter, when the grieving parents sue, will the school hang the teacher out to dry? If the teacher was outside, like that cop in Florida, and didn’t go back in after the shooter, are they accountable? Particularly if we paid for their training?

Beyond accountability, how do you insure the liability here?

No. Don’t roll your eyes. My wife was an administrator for one of the largest school districts in America. She dealt with this stuff every day. So I asked her. School insurance is complicated, extremely so. And very expensive. And required by law. And there are only a handful of companies in the US that provide this type of coverage. And some of them have already announced they won’t insure schools that allow teachers to be armed. So what’s your plan in this case?

You can’t just put it off. You can’t just dismiss the question. You have to answer it. How do you insure your schools?

The Marine again:

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I’m not an insurance expert, but I’m fairly sure you shouldn’t bring up words like “crossfire,” “shooting stance,” and “shoot into the crowd” when your administrators are negotiating next year’s contract with the insurance company.

Also, you should avoid terms like “common sense” as a risk mitigation plan, unless you want to get laughed out of the room.


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I’ve taught firearms to military and civilians for 30 years.

Common sense ain’t all that common, Folks.

If it was, we wouldn’t have to have this conversation in the first place.

If common sense was common, none of these school shooters would have access to a gun.

If common sense was common, insurance would cost a whole lot less and we wouldn’t need nearly as much of it.

If common sense was common, we wouldn’t have 30,000 gun related deaths every single year.

Depending on common sense is just about as useful as offering up “thoughts and prayers” after another mass murder.

What weapons?

It makes a difference, you know. Larger, high velocity rounds can penetrate body armor, but also walls, doors, etc., meaning increased chance of collateral damage in a building full of children.

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If you don’t mandate what can and cannot be carried, it won’t be long for someone takes advantage of your lack of direction. When Mrs. Jones shows up with an ACR Enhanced-Carbine Bushmaster Coyote in a tactical sling it’s going to be too late. And don’t think it won’t happen.

You’re going to have to address basic gun handling rules, like any other agency that allows weapons – only you are doing so in the middle of a couple hundred kids. It’s one thing for a cop to leave his service piece in his desk drawer when he goes to the can, it’s something else entirely when a teacher does it in a room full of kids.

So, you’re going to have to address basic weapons protocols, carry, storage, condition, type, acceptable ammunition, etc. You’re going to have to provide penalties for failure to adhere. You state’s general carry laws are very likely insufficient for this.

Failure to address this will result in disaster.

There’s no learning curve here. You have to get it right first time, every time.

Or kids will die.

How do the cops know who the licensed and qualified "specially trained people" are?

No. No, don't roll your eyes. Answer the goddamned question. How do the cops know who the bad guy is in this situation? Show your work. Be specific.

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More items to be controlled along with the teacher’s gun.

Because if they get into the hands of the shooter, well, then what?

So, you’re going to have to pay for all this stuff, and a secure place to store it. And training on how to use it. And periodic familiarization with the police, so they don’t shoot you.

You going to have to change this stuff periodically, the same way TSA changes up their random security measures each day, to prevent the bad guys from learning your codes and procedures. And you’re going to have to coordinate that. And make absolutely certain, every day, that everybody with a gun gets the new procedures, new identifiers, new codes.

And you’re going to have to get it right, every time.

Or kids will die. Teachers will die. Cops will die.

And tell me, what if the teacher you issued all this stuff to and let carry a gun into your school is the shooter? What’s the protocol then?

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What’s the actual problem with turning teachers into soldiers and schools into warzones?

What’s the problem?


If you can’t figure that part out for yourself, well, then the odds are pretty high that you’re the problem.


Naturally, a number of people responded to my comments on Twitter with last week’s shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland, where a 17-year-old kid took his father’s handgun to school. He shot his ex-girl friend and another student (apparently by accident). The kid was then shot and killed by the school resource officer.

A rather large number of people seem to think that somehow answered my questions.

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An armed school officer.

Yeah, that’s right. The shooter, a kid, was shot by St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill. An experienced cop, not a teacher. This was his primary job.  And that kid was armed with a pistol, not a military grade semi-automatic rifle. And Maryland doesn’t answer my questions at all.

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A 17-year-old kid is dead. Killed by a cop. Two more children are wounded.

Update: And as I wrote this, the parents of the young girl shot at Great Mills decided to take her off life support. And thus the shooter achieved his goal, he took her life and his too.

If you think that’s a win, again, you’re part of the problem.


There should be no acceptable losses when it comes to our kids. None.


Look here: I never said there shouldn’t be armed guards, armed police, trained officers, protecting our schools.

As a matter of fact, I never said teachers shouldn’t be armed.

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I asked some very basic questions. Questions any competent professional should be asking.  Questions every school administrator, school board, district lawyer, and parent should be asking.

If you want to put more guns, carried by amateurs, into a building packed full of children, then I don't think I'm being unreasonable here.

When the president says "highly trained expert teachers," we must all demand to know exactly what that means. In detail.

But nothing in my comments was pro- or anti- with regards to arming teachers.

I didn’t rant against guns.

And I never, not once, said arming teachers was a bad idea.

But here’s the funny thing, right here:

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A veteran, meaning me, thinks it’s a bad idea.

That’s what they said.

That’s what they all said.

Pro gun. Anti gun. Didn’t matter. When people attempted to answer my questions, they all, every single one, thousands of them, they all came to this same conclusion: Gee, Jim, you’re saying arming teachers is a bad idea.

No, I didn’t.

I didn’t say that at all.

YOU did.




Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
Part 12, Excuses, Excuses

What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity


Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.

113 comments:

  1. Powerful and profoundly thought-provoking. Thank you.

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  2. Perfectly stated. Questions that must have solid answers. Thank you.

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  3. My son does Airsoft----plastic BB guns. He bought one that shipped from China and Customs TOOK the black tip for the gun; they left the fluorescent orange one. They reason is that "someone may think it's a real gun if the black tip is on it."

    How f*cked up is this country's gun laws when they regulate a PLASTIC gun that shoots PLASTIC BBs to the Nth degree, but does not regulate REAL guns that shoot REAL bullets.

    I'm gobsmacked.

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    1. Sharon, I guess the orange tip thing is to reduce the chance that *your* kid doesn't get shot by some nervous cop.
      We have the same rules here (except that almost nobody has a deal gun).

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    2. I used to play airsoft, but I stopped around the time BATFE seized a bunch of plastic Airsoft AR-15s on the grounds that you could supposedly convert the lower receiver to a full-auto part and attach it to a bog-standard AR-15 upper.

      As though you somehow couldn't drill the same hole on a standard AR-15 lower receiver.

      As though a toy designed to rattle out 300-450fps plastic BBs with an electric motor would hold up especially well when attached to something firing actual gunpowder bullets.

      (of course, because we were dumb kids playing on land one of the guys owned, first thing we did was spraypaint the barrel tips black or otherwise shroud them with camo. Meanwhile, I know at least one guy on my old firing range who painted the muzzle of his actual AR-15 blaze orange as some sort of semi-clever commentary on the regulations.)

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    3. I'm not gobsmacked. It's an extremely "common sense" thing to do. Toy guns can't be sold in New York City unless they are colored bright green, blue, red or another neon color. Over the past seven years, city officials have seized over 7,200 illegal toy guns from stores and levied $2.4 million in fines. Retailer Party City paid a record $500,000 in fines for 800 violations of the city's toy gun law. Police shot and killed a California man on Christmas Eve 2009 after he failed to drop his gun. It turned out the gun was a toy.

      Twice during the summer of 2009, Dallas police pulled guns on people waving around fake firearms that looked real. One incident involved a teenager playing with a plastic pellet pistol.

      New York City has suffered several tragedies involving toy guns. During the five-year period, 1998 through 2003, there were at least 12 cases in which New York police fired at someone because their toy gun was thought to be a real weapon.

      In 1994, a New York City officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy who was playing cops and robbers with friends in an apartment complex. The boy's toy rifle looked dangerously real to the officer.

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    4. Georgette, in what way is it common sense to force toy guns to have brightly colored tips when, as Josh D pointed out, there is nothing stopping people from painting brightly colored tips on REAL guns?
      -Chandra in MO

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  4. A voice of reason in a hell-storm (yes I meant that) of rabid stupidity.

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  5. I've worked in an inner city school district for 20 years and I would NOT work in a building where teachers are armed. Every colleague I've spoken to agrees, and I suspect many educators feel the same way. How do you properly staff schools if most of the quality candidates refuse to work in a building with armed teachers?

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  6. Common sense is truly not so common. Great article. Granted, I am now even more nervous about arming teachers because you hit every reason I was already nervous!

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  7. I cannot believe that this is even a consideration. Teachers can't be paid what they are worth now, how will they be compensated for the stress of managing to teach and remaining vigilant to the possibility of defending their students without collateral losses. I think we must be in the twilight zone.

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  8. "and full of staining and groaning and falsehoods". Should that be "straining"? Sorry. It's the English major in me. Now that I have that off my chest, I'll go read what I expect to be an excellent post.

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  9. The most basic question of all: Would you want someone capable of taking your child's life teaching that same child on a daily basis? No.

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    1. Indeed. I had quite a few troubled kids walk through my doors. A few of them are in jail now. I still remember their names...though some of them are adults now, I still remember them as 10 year old boys and the knowledge that I could not save them from their fate will forever haunt me.

      I cannot conceive of shooting any of them. Ending their life would end my own, because I could never live with myself.

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    2. Why is it that morons with no clue about their fantasy solutions are always the first to start things they know absolutely nothing about. The first step in applying their amazingly stupid solution is the one that kills it. Why do they think teachers will willingly walk into classroom while armed. I spent 28 years in high school classrooms and the first time someone had told me to walk into my room carrying. is the day they would have had my resignation. In my opinion any teacher that would be willing do so should not even be in a classroom.
      Also the ignorance displayed in the replys shows that these morons are simply giving copycat answers from talking points and have no actual knowledge. School resource officers are not teachers, they are trained police officers. we have them in my county and they are supplied by either city police dept or the sheriff's office

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  10. Good work. Solutions start with real questions.

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  11. Every time I read one of these, I hope it's the last time. Hasn't been so far. Please keep writing them - stupidity seems to be viral, and perhaps you can vaccinate at least a few.

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  12. I used to teach apprentices about the art of vehicle mechanics. If I were told I had to be armed, i would have quit.
    Arming teachers is insanity.

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  13. I'm Canadian so I'm sure a few folks will be dismissive of my opinion, and that's fine.
    I had a teacher who was armed once, of course we lived in the middle of the bush and it was a rifle in case of bears, but still it was a weapon. As kids we all knew how to safely handle said weapon and we also knew our asses would get kicked if we touched it. Not only by the teacher but our parents.

    Today, if I had children in school, I would be worried about arming teachers. It's not like they have a ton of time to do the already overtaxing job they do, to add more to them would be too much to ask. How can we say Mr Smith you are not responsible for the North wing of the school in an active shooter situation? What would that do to Mr Smith?

    No, it's not fair to them or to the kids, or the the LEOs who are responding to an active shooter situation. There has to be better ways then more guns.

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    1. "Today, if I had children in school, I would be worried about arming teachers. It's not like they have a ton of time to do the already overtaxing job they do, to add more to them would be too much to ask."

      I'm not sure how much teachers get paid in Canada, but in the States, they generally get paid like shit, particularly in the "red states" (states that are Republican-controlled and generally swing toward the Republican candidate in a Presidential election).

      My sister is a public-school teacher here in Florida and she works much harder and for much longer hours than I do at nearly 1/2 the pay. I can't imagine asking her to take on the *added* responsibility of carrying a deadly weapon to class and taking both her students' and her own lives into her hands whenever she starts the school day.

      Beth, I fear your neighbors to the South have long gone mad. :(

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  14. Please let there be no need for Bang Bang Crazy #14.

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  15. I generally try to avoid being one of the grammar/spelling nazis, but I have to say the "pulling his bitches" (where I think you meant britches) made me giggle. That said, you ask all the right questions - and you are absolutely correct that anyone that thinks them through will come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately there seems to be a great lack of thinkers in our society these days.

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  16. I would like someone to run the following expperiment say 10 times. 300 students 14 teachers and 2 resource officers in an auditorium. There is a box underneath each seat and a note on 1-2 boxes saying inside the box is a fake gun and the kid is a shooter. How many of his classmates can he kill before being taken down? And how many students will be killed by friendly fire? What if the box for the shooter is assigned to a teacher (it just happened in Georgia) I don't really think anyone will ever run this experiment but the chaos that would be caused by kids fucking around because you know some of them will because they know its not real would actually be a good substitution for a real shooter situation. This is at best a half-assed scenario that I don't think anyone will ever do but I think if it were done we could begin to get some idea of what would happen. As for the "successful" intervention many people are talking about I note the shooter had one specific target and in fact did manage to injure her so it does bring into question just how successful a defense it was.

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    1. Something like this has been done with a group of civilians with concealed carry permits. I can't remember where i saw this but it was an auditorium with instructors playing the part of the active shooters & a room full of unarmed people as well as the CCP people. Let's just say that very few of the active shooters got shot by the CCPs but a lot of people got shot.

      Turning training into reality is a hard thing. I have just enough training to appreciate that but not enough to rely on the training I've had to get through if shtf. Hopefully I'd get lucky. Hopefully...

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    2. Jordan Klepper did a piece for The Daily Show very similar in nature (although not structure) to what Christian K described. There were a number of preparatory steps that went like so....

      It started by JK getting a concealed carry permit, which he accomplished by mail through a state in which he had no physical, residential or legal standing. (If it matters, he lived in NY and the other state was FL) The permit was legal in 31 states.

      He did have to complete a one-afternoon course accredited by the NRA once he rec'd the paper by mail. I may be cynical, but my take is that the NRA doesn't exist to keep guns out of people's hands, so the req's may not be as stringent as they could be. After that course, he then (optionally) went to a staged active shooter incident in a "school" wherein he was "killed" several times, but did manage to get one shot off at a shooter. Unsurprisingly, he also managed to "kill" 2 students.

      It left me with the impression that it's not as easy as Bruce Willis makes it look.

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    3. @Hugh Wallace

      You might be thinking of this piece from ABC News.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8QjZY3WiO9s

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rLN6_s66wTg

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  17. Thanks, Jim for a well thought out "rant". I have yet to meet a teacher who wants to add conceal/carry to their job description. There is no money for supplies but money can be found for arming and training teachers? I think they would prefer chalk!

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  18. Good questions produce good thoughtful answers

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  19. The shallow lack of logic shown by the twitter posts you used from those who think the process of arming teachers is as simple as ordering room service explains a lot about why these same idiots think building a wall on the Mexico/US border will solve immigration and drug gang problems...or that their personal arsenals will be sufficient to hold off the "gubmint" and its soldiers when they come to take their weapons away...

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    1. Trump's adobe curtain comes with its own rather lengthy list of crucial questions.

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  20. The problem behind the problem: too many people in the world have keyboards and opinions but have no ability to think logically about the consequences of their ideas and positions. They think they have a good bead on things, but they never think beyond their basic surface opinions. But it's always someone else who doesn't understand or think straight.

    A considerable portion of the US population is too stupid to pour water out of their boots when their feet are wet, but think they're flinking geniuses.

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  21. Don't let the turkeys get you down, Sir.

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  22. Excellent "rant". My father was ex-military and then went into law enforcement for 14 years, before earning a degree and becoming a teacher. I've been in education now for nearly 30 years myself. I respect guns; they can be useful tools. But they have no place in a classroom.

    And as an educator, I have to agree with you that common sense is all too uncommon.

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  23. It's easy to kill a kid. Guy in my unit had a no shit story about a patrol in Mogadishu where this young girl popped up in an alley with an RPG, and he just instinctively lit her up.

    And years later, he still got choked up talking about it. "I can still see her face, like she was standing right here". Never mind that it was her or him and his guys. He knows. He shot the kid.

    It still haunts him.

    I wonder if he'd do it again.

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  24. Thank you for this. You asked necessary questions. I'll be sharing.

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  25. I've spent 35 years teaching. In K-12 schools, private colleges, and public universities. I've dedicated my professional life to creating an environment of trust, support, and compassion where students can learn and grow. What could be more toxic to that environment than the presence of a lethal weapon? I don't care if every one of the legal, practical, and logistical problems could be overcome. I DO NOT WANT to teach in an environment where the threat of deadly force is a constant presence in the classroom.

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  26. *slow clap* Man, that ending. Well done. Well. Done.

    ****

    Also, I do not come from a military family, and no I did not know there was a difference between commissioned and enlisted oaths. One: How sad is it that I had to dig down to the end of page 2 of Google's results to find it? and Two: Holy shit. That is ... I had no idea. I suddenly understand the gravity of the rank a lot more clearly. Thanks for the nudge to learn more.

    *************

    Lastly, my mom was a teacher's aide for years. She made enough to cover the electric bill most months, and my folks aren't particularly frivolous. She did it because she loved those kids (still loves them, and checks in on some of them still, years later). There is no way on God's green earth you would have gotten her to carry in school. She would have sacrificed herself in a minute, but she would have never carried, for all the reasons you mentioned.

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  27. Those ranting idiots all chanting "Hoorah" and slavering at the thought of shooting something--ANYTHING. Gawd help us all

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  28. It's so sad that you have to keep writing these things. even sadder that so many people don't listen, or outright refuse to grok what you're saying. Sad or not, I'm glad you're willing to do it, and will continue to speak forcefully and eloquently on the subject. Thank you, sir.

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  29. Read and understood. Thanks, Warrant.

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  30. Teachers have to do a lot of their training and daily chores on their own time now ,when are they going to be able to go for intensive firearms training? But while we are at it how about get them bomb disarming training

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  31. Measured, practical, experiential, sane. Well-done, Jim.

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  32. Keep asking the tough questions Chief because no one else is. Bang Bang 13 is one Helluva laser focus on these school gun issues and arming school personel which is not actually solving the baseline motivations and enablers of increasing school shootings.

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  33. I'm just wondering how many of these incidents we have to string together in a week to start calling this generalized social breakdown? Being on board with turning schools into armed camps kind of misses the point I think.It's not Rwanda yet but I'll bet money somebodys ginned up a swell computer model that's busy predicting exactly when it will be. Call me crazy.

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  34. Thanks Jim for asking all the right questions. This should be required reading before this issue moves forward in our schools.

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  35. The profound LACK of common sense in this country is why I will never lack for work as an ER nurse/paramedic. I'm lucky my eyes don't completely roll out of my head every day at some of the idiocy that brings people of all ages into the ER, or the things people think are an "emergency" that justify coming in to a doctor who HAS to see everyone who walks through those doors, no matter what.

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  36. I have only one thing to say to all of this: if you (general "you", as in "you, the people of the USA") are going to be expecting teachers to go armed in the classroom, you are going to have to be willing to pay them a lot more, because the way things are going (under-resourced school districts, under-resourced staff, low wages, high social expectations and so on) I doubt you are going to find anyone who'd be willing to take the job on.

    Oh, hang on, I have a second thing to say: I am very glad I live in Australia and not the USA.

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  37. I don't think that the particular idiot that you were wasting your time arguing with was a Marine, he sounds a lot more like someone whose "training and combat experience" is in video games! My husband is a Vietnam era combat vet and a former Marine. He's brave, he's strong and yet after all these years he's still fighting his PTSD! Personally, I think this arming teachers idea is just another way of killing public education, as if Betsy DeVos wasn't enough.

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  38. Your ending brings us right back to... common sense. Although I don't know why it's still called that as it's not all that common anymore.

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  39. Not sure Jim has written a rant. Maybe it's a caution and a resource of items that schools and districts and their lawyers must now carefully consider. I'm a substitute teacher and have asked teachers at the five high schools where I work if they would want to carry at school. No takers. Not a single one. I spoke to an administrator who worked as a police detective prior to going into education. She never wants to see guns at school and mentioned that at a previous school district, she knew teachers who had CCW and were willing to carry at school. She said those individuals are the last people she would want to see with a weapon anywhere near a school. She also said that our district will never put up the money to train, certify, maintain certification, and arm teachers --- "too conservative to do it or try to justify it and its expenses to the public," she said. She added that a school resource officer (deputy sheriff) had discussed with her his conflicted thoughts of trying to develop relationships with students on one hand, and being ready to shoot one of them on the other. About arming teachers, I add: what kind of person can teach our kids, my kids, AP Calculus one second and be constantly ready to draw a weapon and drop into a firing stance the next? An odd bird, indeed, and probably one I don't want around my kids. This is not a simple, cut and dried issue, and those who simply want to throw guns at it truly worry me.

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    1. Developing relationships with students would be hands down the best way to spot aberrations and stave off having to shoot one of them. Resource officers would be better qualified with a degree in sociology than criminology.

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  40. This is, as usual, well-thought and well-written. The only ranting I see is ranting against the people who call asking questions "ranting", and I think that's highly appropriate.

    I'm getting very tired of the question "what are the details?" and the statement "here is a potential problem with your position" being seen as confrontational. It's happening on the macro/political scale, and it's happening on the interpersonal scale, and I'm just done with it.

    Thanks, Jim, for going into such detail about your questions and emphasizing the difference between ranting and trying to have a rational discussion.

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  41. Obviously, all the people who are so sure are afraid of the questions. Much of my military career was spent doing the "what if" thinking and questioning. It was rarely well received.
    Thanks Jim for asking the questions -- of which, to many of them, there are no good answers ... only more questions.

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  42. Two earlier commenters raised important points: 1.this could be one more nail in the coffin of public education in Trump's America, & 2. There are too many people in twitterland & facebookland who think Mr. Wright's closely argued essay is a 'rant' & who also think that they are being 'reasonable' when they suggest arming all the teachers, but think that restricting gun ownership is a form of extremism.

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  43. It's the Star Trek: TNG solution. The mighty Captain waves his hand and tells the helmsman to "make it so." Hey, that god-thing created the world in six days, "highly trained expert teachers" should be peanuts.

    As an aside, I think it is a wry commentary on the state of our society that "carry" is now commonly-accepted shorthand for "carry a firearm."

    -- EMH

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  44. Wow, Jim. Just when I think you can't possibly outdo yourself, you surprise us again. The questions you ask in this essay deserve rational answers, but how can there be answers when most likely those who advocate arming teachers have not considered your thought-provoking questions? Teachers are under enough duress already on a daily basis, having to negotiate through a under funded education system with pathetic pay that now we're going to strap guns on them and demand they keep our children safe? I am so sick of hearing that the answer to gun violence is more guns. Maybe instead of arming our teachers, we should advocate for bringing ethics and civics classes into the curriculum, better, specialized training for counselors to recognize these troubled loner kids who turn to violence out of frustration. I don't know what the answer is, but I damned sure know adding more guns to any situation is not a common sense solution.

    Keep up the great work, Jim. You deserve a vacation (or at least 3 fingers of fine whiskey) after emptying your gut on this missive. ��

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  45. A simple question about training. Does an armed teacher stay in their classroom or run to the sound of the guns? This has a major impact on training. In their classroom the teacher knows the students and knows the situation. Someone entering the classroom is a potential hostile but, presumably, can be identified by what they are carrying and how they act.

    A teacher leaving the classroom has no situational awareness. I'm guessing this is equivalent to a raid on a hostage situation. Are you going to provide that level of training to teachers? They need to enter a new situation and immediately identify the hostages and the bad guys. I believe that is advanced training for military and police SWAT.

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  46. My dad spent 46 years in public education; teacher, coach, principal, university professor in Secondary Education and training student teachers. His favorite story was: When he taught methods classes to future teachers,he always pointed out that you had to be very careful how you phrased things, especially to the little ones. If you asked, "What is it?" of a student's project, you were telling them that they didn't do a good enough job for you to recognize what it was. You should inquire, "Tell me about your picture?" So my dad and the teacher are sitting in the back of the class and the student teacher is doing art with first graders. Little Jimmy has taken a black crayon and completely blacked out his whole paper. The student teacher picks up the picture and off to the side, shows it to my dad and the teacher. "Well Jimmy, tell me about your picture?" she says with a successful smile. Little Jimmy answers, "It's early, early in the morning and the farmer is going out to milk the cows and he stubs his toe on a bucket and says, "Jesus Christ it's dark out here!" Both my dad and the teacher just got up and walked out of the classroom. It took a semester of teaching methods class to get that student-teacher to understand and respond to that simple art project; simply to be sensitive to a child's feelings. So some would hand her a gun and expect that she would respond in a safe and appropriate manner after a week or two of training? Jim just points out that there are many more serious questions, consequences, and understandings than, "Well Jimmy, tell me about your picture?"

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  47. Excellent once again Jim. It's just amazing how "experts" want to argue with you, about things they know nothing about. Thanks for keeping on.

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  48. Your postings are consistently excellent, and clearly considered VERY carefully. I'd have quit school altogether if some of the teachers in my experience had been armed. And Florida, with its' "Stand Your Ground" law, is a disaster waiting to happen. (Never mind that @BoredPanda clearly slandered you...)

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  49. "An armed school officer.

    Yeah, that’s right. The shooter, a kid, was shot by St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill. An experienced cop, not a teacher. This was his primary job. And that kid was armed with a pistol, not a military grade semi-automatic rifle."

    At this point, we don't even know if the deputy shot him at all or the kid committed suicide. There are reports of the shooter holding a gun to his head during the face-off with the deputy.

    And why not? The shooter had already done what he wanted to do, shoot the girl.

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  50. I'm married to a teacher and I'll say right up front; arming teachers is a bad idea that would undoubtedly make schools more dangerous for everyone involved. There is only one way to significantly improve school safety from those who would do people harm. Sad as this is, strictly enforced entry control is the only real solution.

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  51. Minor typo: You state’s general carry laws.... s/b Your state’s general carry laws....

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  52. As a quick thought experiment, after all the teachers have been armed, you need to keep in mind that like any other profession they are just as likely to have breaks in sanity as any other. So a percentage of them may turn into shooters. After all, we already have teachers being fired for abusive behavior in several schools in the country. So after we armed all the teachers, are we arming all the students too? Just in case that is? I suppose it is a means of reduction in population growth. I doubt that's the intent though it would be the effect.

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  53. My thoughts: First, I am against arming teachers. Anybody who thinks it's an easy solution hasn't thought things through, as Jim shows above. Teachers are there to teach, first and foremost. Carrying a gun and bearing the responsibility that goes with it will be distracting, and for anybody who thinks it won't be, then that person doesn't take that responsibility seriously. I can see many scenarios where the armed teacher won't be effective. First, as in the incident the other day, the shooter was after a specific person and an armed teacher would not have been able to prevent the shooting. Another case would be the mass shooter. Once teachers start carrying, everybody will know who the armed teachers are. Somebody planning on a mass killing would first avoid that teacher and get off a couple dozen shots, or go after the armed teacher first. Mass shooters don't seem to expect to survive the incident, and won't be deterred by the presence of armed teachers. And even if they were deterred, they would just take their gun to a movie theater or a shopping mall instead.
    Maybe the solution lies in doing the things that people do in places where there aren't school shootings.

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  54. Hi Jim.

    Typo heads up “was to make us legally responsibility for it” should be “responsible”?

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  55. Are the people who so vehemently support teachers with guns, parents? Where do the teachers find the time to go through the training and refreshers? What if the school district is required to go with the lowest bid on an RFQ?

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  56. I shared this. A scientist friend commented, and I'm providing a an edited version of his comment: "the biggest problem with arming teachers or building walls or fighting terrorist is that the fix must be deployed on a very large scale to combat something that happens on a small scale. Anytime you work on a parts per million scale, the the second, third or fourth order events can dominate what you thought you were working on. In other words you will create many more problems than you fix." I say it collapses into Murphy's Law, or the shorthand SNAFU, when that can't afford to happen.

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    1. Your scientist friend is absolutely correct.

      If you don't think this through in detail, and put strict controls in place, the second order effects will overwhelm you. Unfortunately, by the time that becomes apparent, it's too late to go back and you've made things an order of magnitude worse.

      //Jim

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    2. This also describes perfectly the "measures against voter fraud".

      Huge changes to fix a small problem, the only difference here is that the "flaws" ARE likely the intended outcome of those clamoring for this.

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  57. A lot to digest if and when a school district decides to follow the rush to what is a simple minded solution. I would if voting, do anything but add guns to the mix. I would not teach if one of my fellows was armed. Enough to worry about now, not gun play. Leave that to other places.

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  58. As well as being a deputy, Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill had SWAT training.
    From an FBI active shooter study of 160 mass shootings; 23 attempts to stop them were made by armed bystanders. Five were successful - one active-service marine, three off-duty police, and one citizen. 13 times the shootings were stopped by UNarmed citizens.
    I have my doubts about the 20-day wonders they expect teachers to become.

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  59. The HS where I taught was housed in a de-warehoused elementary school. Every room had 2 walls of cinderblock and 2 walls of glass starting at groin-height. The glazing was falling out of the window frames. My daughter was in the room with me when we did the chemical release / shelter-in-place drill. "Miss....," the teens said to me, and I replied, "Yup, IRL we'd be fucked." There were almost no places to hide on the entire campus. If no other critique applied, it would still be the case that these idjits are proposing the classic one-size-fits-all solution.

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  60. It just occurred to me that teachers change jobs. They might transfer from one school to the next. That just adds more complexity to keeping a minimum number of armed teachers in the schools. What if one or more of the designated carriers call out on a given day?

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    1. Yeah, in a given day someone going to be out sick or have something that keeps them away. Are you going to redploy Teacher Jane to cover Teacher Ted's area and her own?

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  61. I'm a teacher, have relatives who are teachers, and the last thing we need in a classroom is a goddamn GUN on our hip or in a shoulder holster or wherever. Why? Because in addition to regular teaching duties, other things happen--kids get sick, kids get into arguments, fire drills happen, you have assemblies--and it would be mighty tough to deal with all that while making sure the gun doesn't get jostled or dislodged or a student doesn't try to lift it as a joke. And I'll go out on a limb and say that anyone who's gung-ho for arming teachers is pretty much an NRA wanker who has NEVER been in charge of a room full of restless kids.

    And what about extracurricular activities? Will Coach be allowed to bring a gun to practice or a game? What about when a teacher loses his/her cool? One of the main--if not THE main--requirements of a teacher is to gear up on patience before every class. Why? Because you're always going to get at least one surly wiseass or class clown that constantly disrupts the lesson and, yeah, it's trying, but dealing with it professionally is part the job. But what's to stop a teacher from pointing a gun at a student's head to make he or she 'behave?' Fucking Gestapo mentality like that, I can do without.

    Arming teachers is just the first step for the gun lobby; their next step (you know, to sell more guns) would be pressing to have the maintenance staff armed, then the bus drivers, then, hell, even the volunteers who come in after school to do tutoring. And I can just see your average ammosexual dickhead hijack the 'An armed society is a polite society' line and use it as 'An armed school is a POLITE school.'

    Shaping young minds, helping students achieve--therein lies the Art of teaching. And it can be best realized without the spectre of a gun looming over everybody's shoulder.

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  62. If kids know teachers are carrying guns, no such thing as concealed carry.

    Are there no non-lethal alternatives?

    I'd want to home-school before I put a kid in a classroom with an armed teacher.

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  63. Goddamn these assholes. Shit for brains. And the most compelling of your arguments, for me anyway, was posing the question of killing a "child." How could they? How could a teacher?
    Thanks so much for all your time and effort and energy.

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  64. Well thought out and well written. On another note though, I would suspect that you might lose a lot of teachers who were not willing to carry for many of the reasons you have described. What then? Are you only allowed to teach if you agree to such liability and psychological stress? How many great teachers would be lost and what will it do to the education system? The idea of a teacher being sued, blacklisted, harassed or any other crummy behavior based on the fact that they did not stop an aggressor is the stuff of nightmares. And thinking that grieving parents would not blame that teacher? Sadly, people react rather than think...

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    1. My mother was a teacher. She lived to nurture and inspire her students. Put a gun in her hand and tell her she was going to have to potentially shoot one of them and she'd resign. She simply did not have the psychological makeup to be capable of it, and she knew it.

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  65. All we need is for one armed teacher to shoot a kid in school to show the stupidity of arming teachers.

    Oh wait! That’s already happened!

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  66. I admire your ability to write all of the things that are cogent and appropriate to be considered. I cannot even read the whole piece because it is so overwhelming. You must understand that this is exactly the kind of thinking that the movement which elected our current POTUS is against. The movement wants simple answers. The "swamp", the "establishment" engages in this kind of analysis before writing most well-written laws. Most people can't process all of the details. I encourage you to keep writing, keep poking, and direct your energies towards communicating with those who are in the business of drafting legislation and crafting policies. Those are the people who need to focus on these considerations. There are still people like me who have hope that society will benefit from an educated group of law and policymakers.

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  67. Again, we miss use our intellect. We use it to justify our wants and needs. That is a problem we will most likely never cure, because we will only work on the symptoms cause by it. The worst symptom of it may be justifying the accumulation of wealth. Seems to me there is a lot of money involved in the gun controversy. There is money to be made in arming teacher. If it is not your child, money is most likely more important.

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  68. I was in law enforcement for 30 years. I think you did an outstanding job of addressing the issues. I have a few others that I'll mention. I can name 10 of my co-workers that committed suicide with their service weapons. One did it in front of his wife and family. How would that go over with the community? You addressed psychological testing. You are one of the few that has. Shouldn't this be done periodically? A week or two ago, there were two accidental discharges in schools on the same day! We always had a few pictures strategically hung to cover up the bullet holes in our stations. Accidental discharges happen. Like the one where one of our guys accidentally shot his wife in the butt. You know from carrying those damn things around that they are heavy and uncomfortable. A number of our people left them behind in restaurants. That is going to happen.
    I also taught in a high school. One of our teachers tried to break up a fight between two girls. One kicked him in the balls and he went down in a helpless heap. Emotions are high in adolescents. Can you guarantee he would not have been disarmed? Or how about some schools where teachers know not to walk down certain hallways for fear of being mugged. Don't tell me about the guy being armed so he'd be safe. You think that teacher would use a weapon on a student if that student wasn't using deadly physical force? I hope not. I think he would probably get punched in the face and be disarmed. Or how about I female teacher of disturbed middle school children I knew that had to wear cycle shorts under her skirt to school every day because inevitably she would get in the wrestling match with some of the kids. Rolling around on the floor is embarrassing enough without showing your underwear. How would she protect that weapon?
    Arming teachers is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard because the problem is compounded by introducing guns into the school. The simple solution is reducing the access to guns outside the school. But alas, as you could see from the tweets from those not rooted in reality, people in this country watch too much TV and daydream about being Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood. That includes our "Dear Leader".

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  69. Mark Twain is quoted as saying "Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."
    Trump followers and gun nutters will NEVER change what passes for a mind. You get a gold star for making the effort, no matter how fruitless, a waste of time, and frustrating it is. Good luck with that.
    --Johnny Hogue

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  70. The only thing more disheartening, Sir Jim, than the knee-jerk "you're an anti-gun idiot" response from those who don't actually understand what you're saying (if they even read it properly), is the fact that this essay is Part 13 of your Bang, Bang Crazy series. Part Thirteen. And I'm sure Part 14 isn't far behind.

    Typo alerts:
    I'm a "who/whom" purist, but I understand that some people just find the distinction annoying. If you're one of those similarly annoyed, I apologize in advance.

    * Paragraph beginning "Wait a minute, highly trained expert teachers? Highly trained by who?" Should be "by whom."
    * Paragraph beginning "Look here: if your kid's school ... Are they certified. By who?" Should be "by whom."
    * Paragraph beginning "So, when I ask you: these teachers will be highly trained by who?" Should be "by whom."
    * Paragraph addressing the siege mentality among some police, beginning "Not always, and not all the time, but ... Including the famous case in Texas a few years ago where cops shot a man crawling in his hands and knees." Should be "crawling on."
    * Paragraph beginning "Well, then why wouldn't we get a say in how that training is conducted? ... If our taxes are paying for, then it's no longer a matter ..." Should be "paying for it". Same paragraph: "If our taxes pay for training teachers to carry firearms in our schools, we're are [should be "we are"] de facto creating ... You damn right I got questions [should be "You're damn right"]."
    * Paragraph beginning "There's no learning curve here. You have to get it right first time, every time." Should it be "the first time"?
    * Paragraph beginning "You going to have to change this stuff periodically, ..." Should be "You are" or "You're."

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  71. "Do you think you could do it?

    Kill a child?

    Even one pointing a gun at you? Do you really think you could do it?"

    No sir, I could not. Especially if it was one of my students.

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  72. thank you for your long and thoughtful post.

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  73. Thankyou bro. I once had a gun pushed into my face. It seared me. It made me a civic activist, hardened my views on the righteousness of organized labor, and made me face what was I willing to die for in the future. I'm still here fighting the fight. Pro-life from womb to tomb, not just womb to birth than you are on your own!http://www.ufwstories.com/story/view/funny-frightening-life-changing

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  74. Two things were uppermost in my mind after I read this. First, your point about a teacher being willing to shoot a student is very well taken. I'm remembering well-trained (hopefully) police officers in my state who were called to the scene of a shooting--unfortunately, it was one of their own sergeants who had shot his wife in her car. Perhaps understandably, they were somewhat hesitant to gun him down, and this allowed him to approach the car and fire more shots into his wife's body. These were professionally trained officers, and they had a problem shooting at a man they trusted and had served with for years. Now some people are positing that a teacher, a person trained to nurture not to kill, would be able to take instant, deadly action against a student they might well know. I personally can't see anything good coming out of such a situation.

    Secondly, you've again tripped me up in my assumptions. I assumed you were against arming teachers until you pointed out that you hadn't come down on one side or the other, only on the side of knowing what we were doing before we did it. I try hard to see around my assumptions and biases, but every once in a while I get caught. Thanks for that lesson.

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  75. Thanks as always for your articulate, passionate, brilliant writing!

    A couple of typos:

    * "Because you going to have to insure the school."
    * "You going to have to change this stuff periodically,"

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  76. Your comments are right on the money, sir. I have spent my lifetime in emergency response, emergency preparedness, and emergency management roles. They are all I know. If one is not asking these questions then one is simply preparing to fail. Thanks for illuminating the complexities of an emotionally-charged topic.

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  77. Your comments are right on the money, sir. I have spent my lifetime in emergency response, emergency preparedness, and emergency management roles. They are all I know. If one is not asking these questions then one is simply preparing to fail. Thanks for illuminating the complexities of an emotion-charged topic.

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  78. There are quite a few educators amongst my family and friends. The overwhelming majority of them are instinctively against arming teachers. Two of them agree with it. I don't know if those two have thought it through as thoroughly as you just laid it out.

    I tutored at an inner city school. There was a very real possibility of an out of school argument being brought into the school, or even one starting in class. Access was controlled. There was no budget for buzzer locks. I just had to rattle the door till someone in the office heard me, came to the door, recognized me, and let me in. There were on duty police at strategic posts during critical times. The rest of the time there were school resource officers. Unarmed school resource officers. These kids were volatile. The slightest perceived insult resulted in a volcanic and violent reaction. As one of the anonymous folks above pointed out, there is no way to safeguard that weapon while you're wrestling with a fighting student.

    I'm an advocate of armed self defense. I never once dreamed of bringing a gun into that school. I saw my duty as helping the staff shepherd the students into safe areas, and maintaining order.

    The questions you brought up need to be answered before rushing into turning our schools into armed camps.

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  79. "Could you shoot a kid?"

    Years ago, I was participating in a battle reenactment. Blank loads, exciting show for the public. I was with the cavalry. We were charging a line of infantry. As we got within pistol range, the infantryman I was about to engage grabbed a young drummer boy and used him as a human shield. I instinctively raised my pistol to the upright ready position, muzzle to the sky. The infantryman shot me.

    Years later, on deployment, my instinctive reaction to that playacting event was on my mind. I was a squad leader, responsible for other soldiers and a mission. I steeled my mind against the possibility of needing to override my natural human instinct.

    I thank God every day that I never had to find out the answer.

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  80. My parents signed a waiver when I was a kid saying that the school was not allowed to spank me. My parents spanked us, and my mom firmly believed it to be only used as a last resort, however, they told the school "no" because the school is not my parent, and therefore not allowed that responsibility. I feel the same way about arming teachers. I'm not against guns and I think they should be used as a last resort, but I will only be familiar with my kid's teachers, and not every armed person in the building. I think it would be irresponsible on my part to allow my child into an environment involving guns where I didn't know and trust every person who had one. In a school? Unless it's a school with only 10 kids, that's just not possible. That's why all this talk of arming teachers has made us decide to homeschool our kids.

    Besides, don't we send soldiers to fight for us so that we don't have to live that life? What are they fighting for if this is home life? I dunno. I don't mean any disrespect to those who have fought for us, I just am confused.

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  81. I was a school nurse in an elementary school.
    Who will watch the 15,20 or even 25 kids while their armed teacher is trying to find an armed shooter?
    What happens if that teacher and class is transitioning between class and say lunch? Are those kids on their own lets say in a hallway? Lots more questions and logistics then just arming teachers.
    You are so right to ask the hard questions.

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  82. If anything, this entire article shows how arming teachers was never a solution nor was it ever intended to be one, it was only ever meant as an excuse, as a DEFLECTION from the problem that arms some additional people as a result.

    Courtesy of the NRA.

    Of course, the gun humpers fall for it and in their attempts to "justify it", they prove how bad an idea it is by cheerfully admitting that:

    1.) The whole thing practically leads to a militarization of the teaching profession, and perhaps the schools themselves. Most poignant is when they start talking about "chain of command" and such. Sounds like a military more than a school now.

    2.) They admit that the atmosphere in the school will become one of unease and paranoia. With all the armed individuals walking about, they are most certainly correct in this. That's not a good thing at all.

    3.)The highlighting of the "armed guard" an interesting take especially when they guy who posts and LAUDS the guard gets it all wrong. The arming teachers nonsense was suggested by the gun humpers after PARKLAND and there they CASTIGATED the guard on hand said that his cowardice was REASON for arming teachers!

    Because they are expected to perform much better than guards apparently.

    Now after Maryland they have a 180 about face...without realizing that by doing so they undermine their initial reasoning for arming teachers! After all, if guards CAN do their job, why arm teachers instead of having more trained and armed guards? If they CAN'T do their jobs how can arming teachers ensure the job WILL be done?

    4.) And of course, they devolve into insults when they have nothing (which is all the time) as they always do.

    The fact is, none of them thought it through, all of them simply salivated at the thought of more macho guns around, and when they DO try to think it through, they succeeded in showing us all why arming teachers was never a solution and always an excuse to deflect from things like discussions on gun regulation.

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  83. Since this post was written, it has been reported that the shooter, while hit by the sheriff, ultimately took his own life.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-great-mills-shooting-update-20180326-story.html

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  84. What really gets me is this: "It’s one thing for a cop to leave his service piece in his desk drawer when he goes to the can, it’s something else entirely when a teacher does it in a room full of kids."
    I'm worried about the kid who takes the teacher's gun and starts playing with it - accidental shooting - or purposely tries to shoot others. You know it would happen - both scenarios. If it's not strapped to the teacher for the whole school day, this risk goes way up. Even if it is, even if the teacher is trained in this 'curriculum', they're likely not trained, say the way a cop probably is to be hypervigilant, to know how to react if someone tries to take away their gun. Again, I have no problems with the SRO or cops being on campus. I want teachers to be focused on teaching and the million other things they do to help our kids on a daily basis. I don't want them to have to worry about having to kill one of their students.

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  85. As a teacher, I can confindently say that if you arm thousands of teachers, then the next school shooting will be by a teacher. There are some days when that one kid or that one new asst principal is getting on your very last nerve. It takes one, of the thousands, armed teacher to just lose it and create a tragedy. I remember one shop teacher who was told "fuck you," one too many times from this asshole kid and he beat the shit out of him, beat him with a pallet. He was ex-military, the perfect candidate to carry a gun. I'm glad he didnt have a gun. Deescaltion would go out the window too. Hall fights would result in drawn guns and accidental shootings.

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  86. Hey Jim, another update.
    It turns out that the school officer in MD *didn't* kill the shooter. When confronted by the officer the student shot himself. The officer did shoot, but hit the gun, according to the NYT. Now, I doubt he was *aiming* for the hun, or the hand - so I'd personally call that a miss.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/us/maryland-school-shooting.html

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  87. Jim I'd be interested in your perspective on the recent gun control activism by the Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors, particularly people like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg.

    I think they've got a chance to make a serious difference, they certainly seem media savvy enough to dodge a lot of the usual pitfalls you've pointed out, but as you've also said the issue is often getting to have any sort of conversation at all.

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  88. A number of years ago we had a problem in this country with shooting...and even bombings in court houses. Did the ever present armed police presence prove to be a deterrant ? .... it did not ...

    thats why we now go through metal detectors to report for jury duty.

    Only eliminating the possible prescence of a gun in the building prevented shootings.... and death

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  89. You put a lot of careful thought into this, thank you.

    I am a former teacher. The thought of arming teachers horrifies me. Good teachers are ones that bond with their students, even the “difficult” ones. Especially the difficult ones, because any monkey with a textbook can “teach” bright, motivated, eager kids. They want to learn, and they’ll do so no matter what you do. The worst teacher in the school gets the AP classes. The best teacher in the school gets the Special Ed kids and the Troublemakers, because THAT teacher has the ability to build relationships, and teach, the kids no one else can.

    If you put a gun in that person’s hand and force them to shoot a child...probably on of their own kids...you might as well chamber one extra round for them to fire into their own skull. They’ll never be able to live with the psychological trauma.

    Another factor people need to consider (and one I wish could be explained in a way that those who have never experienced it could understand) is that “Common Sense” goes right out the window when the adrenaline kicks in. Threat Assessment disappears. Safety, Peripherial Vision, Rational Thought....they all disappear. You cannot think. Your frontal lobe shuts down. You become a threatened animal. With a deadly weapon.

    You can be trained out of that, but it takes considerable effort. The older you are, the harder it is to break that reaction. You spend a lot of time puking or shaking (adrenaline reaction is NOT fun). And as you pointed out, it’s a “use it or lose it” ability. Unless you keep high-stress training, that reaction will return. No teacher has the time for that, and no school district is going to pay for it when they realize how much that kind of ongoing training will cost. It’s not cheap.

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  90. Just as an aside, that could perhaps be added as an edit under the discussion about the Maryland school shooter. It has now been determined that the school resource officer did not shoot and kill the aggressor. The shooter took his own life:
    https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2018-03-26/sheriff-maryland-school-shooter-took-his-own-life

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  91. Too many times in my life I've said one thing to someone and they've immediately come back and said that I said something different. They almost always double down and INSIST that what I said is not actually what I said, but that I said something else. I find this behavior most commonly among conservatives (usually the most hidebound ones) but occasionally find it among progressives and liberals (and libertarians).

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  92. I am saddened by how frequently you are right. I'm sure you've seen this already.
    I haven't fact checked it yet but the story is from the Miami Herald (Don't know if they are reliable)
    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/04/parkland-teacher-volunteered-carry-gun-school-leaves-loaded-weapon-public-restroom/
    HRHSofyaEQ...Thank you for doing what you do.

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  93. Thank you. You bring up so many good points, some of which I had thought of but so many more that I had not - I mean, who vets the vetters of instruction? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Thank you for your well thought out, reasoned and experienced comments. I would love for this to be the last you write in the 'Bang Bang Sanity' series, but I feel that is a forlorn hope. Thank you.

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