Pistol Packin’ Educator
Pistol packin’ educator.
By Rob Hoffman on February 26, 2018 at 5:25 AM
Now that the government has finally come to its senses and is willing to arm my fellow educators and I, (And apparently pay me a bonus to boot) I’m thinking about the movie they can make about me since I’ll be packing “heat.” Here are some possibilities:
“Pistol Packin’ Professor.”
“Dirty Robbie.” – (Which coincidently would also be the name of my autobiographical porn movie.)
“Death by History”
“Shoot First: Ask Questions Later” (You know cause I’m a teacher and I ask questions in class, but since I’ll have a gun, I can “shoot first.” C’mon folks, work with me here.)
In the pantheon of bad ideas, the idea to arm teachers deserves its own special place on the shelf. It’s that bad. It’s really shame because I wanted so desperately to give Trump the benefit of the doubt this past week when he sat and actually appeared to be listening without once talking about himself, or how the issue affected him personally, to the horrible stories of those directly impacted by the various school shootings that have infested our nation since the nightmarish events at Columbine High School back in 1998. He really seemed to be trying. I didn’t even mind him having notes in front of him telling how to interact with other humans who aren’t billionaires or celebrities. After all, other than employees, he hasn’t spent a lot of time in his adult life around ordinary people, much less those who have suffered. (Although having the words “I hear you.” down on paper so you can demonstrate understanding in the face of another individual’s suffering doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that the president does in fact, “hear them.”)
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How do you know when a Republican or a Conservative has come up with a bad idea? When even the Rupert Murdoch owned New York Post says your idea is “Half-cocked.” (Hoffman Collection)
It’s incredible that arming teachers even garners a legitimate discussion. It doesn’t even graze the problem in this country that we have with gun violence, not in our schools, and certainly not in any other aspect of life where gun violence has brought horror and suffering to so many unfortunate victims. The NRA, whose behavior is starting emulate some sort of cartoon villain, must be laughing itself silly in a snide-like fashion when their personal dupe, the president of the United States decides that he’s solved the problem of gun violence in America. What is his solution? Wait for it. It rhymes with “nuns.” You guessed it. More guns!
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We’ve seen outrage before. Usually it goes nowhere legislatively, at least on the national level. Perhaps though, this time is a little different. An affluent suburb in Florida has been literally shocked out of its torpor, and these teenagers look like they mean business. We will see. (Getty Images)
As a teacher with 28 years of experience, primarily in urban settings, I’ve seen the progression of gun violence in our schools run from the idea that “It can’t happen here,” to practically an everyday event. When I taught at J.H.S. 204 in Long Island City, it wasn’t that unusual for a student to be caught at school with a gun. The Queensbridge Housing Projects, the largest housing project in New York City, was home for many of our students, and sadly, violence often permeated their daily lives. More than a few brought guns to school for protection. We didn’t have a metal detector since we were only a junior high school, but we probably could have used one. We had unarmed security guards, and metal screens on the bottom floor windows, and every once in a while a drug addict would wonder in to our building. Somebody in the front office would get on the P.A. system and say, “Mr. Green, go to the front office.” At that point, we had to walk INTO THE HALL as teachers, and look for “Mr. Green.” When the intruder was eventually apprehended, somebody in the front office would get back on the P.A. and say, “Thank you Mr. Green.” This meant that we were now safe. Oh how times have changed.
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The Queensbridge Housing Projects in Long Island City. Many of my favorite and most challenging students came from here. Unfortunately, they were no strangers to guns and violence. School shootings are not a new phenomena in America’s inner-city schools. As Chris Rock pointed out, school shootings only became a national tragedy when they started happening in white suburban schools. (You Tube)
When I first arrived at Rensselaer Jr./Sr. High School in 1994, I thought I had died and gone to “teaching heaven.” No metal screens on the windows, doors left open to let the air circulate through, and other than a few fist fights, a low-level of violence. After Columbine, all of that changed, and 20 years later, we are still asking why these shootings are taking place, and how they can be stopped. The president believes arming teachers is the solution. He has even suggested paying teachers who are willing to carry a gun a bonus. There’s also been a lot of discussion about putting metal detectors in all of the schools, and basically creating a fortress in order to protect our children. How do I hate these suggestions? Let me count the ways:
Arming Teachers – Certainly on the surface this sounds like a good idea. Trump stated that school shooters are cowards, and therefore they’ll be too scared to enter a school where teachers may be armed. Well, Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School had an armed sheriff’s deputy, and this didn’t deter 19 year-old Nikolas Cruz from attempting to create murder and mayhem. By the way, even if the deputy had entered the school and attempted to bring down Cruz, several students would have already been shot and possibly killed. Teachers by the way, aren’t walking around on patrol the way a police officer does during a shift. They are teaching or doing paper work, or are in the faculty room, or working with students or colleagues. The gunman, even if it’s a student, will always have the upper hand.
Arming Teachers Part Deux – I can’t speak for every teacher, but I didn’t get into teaching so I could shoot people. That’s not who I am. I have great respect for police officers who do their job correctly and bravely. It takes a certain type to be a good and successful cop. Sadly, we often find out that some people who go into police work are ill-suited for the demands of the job. Why would anybody think that someone who didn’t or couldn’t make it as a police officer should now be carrying a gun? Worse yet, this individual is now being charged with putting down an act of terrorism. What if I shoot and kill an innocent student? How would I ever live with myself after what I’ve just done?
We Already Have a Police Officer on Duty – Our school has a resource officer who does a great job, and he’s a former student of mine as well. But even with him there, an individual could still sneak a gun in and cause a lot of damage before our resource officer could bring him down. Some have said that since so many of the shooters use assault rifles, we should arm the police officers who are in the schools with assault rifles and have them patrol with them. I’m sure our students would love to walk around in what would essentially be an armed camp.
Metal Detectors and Book Bag Checks – Several of my students at Rensselaer have attended both Troy and Albany City schools. Those schools have been dealing with guns for decades. According to the students that I have spoken with, they hated having to go through the metal detector, and they especially hated having their book-bag checked everyday. Sadly, this may be one surefire way to keep the kids safe, or at least safer.
Someone Could Steal My Gun – I teach juniors and seniors, and some of these young men are bigger than me. There are many quiet and isolated areas in our building. How difficult would it be for two or three large juniors or seniors to jump me in one of the corner staircases, steal my gun, and perpetrate something truly awful. If that sounds too paranoid, consider this. Many teachers forget their keys as well as their ID badge. Do you really want to trust them with a Glock?
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President Trump claimed that the sheriff’s deputy who did not enter while Nikolas Cruz was shooting up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a coward. That’s a bold thing for a man who had five military deferments during the Vietnam War to say. Perhaps the sheriff’s deputy had bone spurs? I hear they can be quite debilitating. (You Tube)
No one is ever going to convince me that more guns is the answer for cutting down on school shootings. You want to put a police officer in every school, I’m fine with that. There’s a lot of good things that can come of this. Having 20 to 40% of the teachers armed, and then giving them a bonus to do so has earned a place on the Mount Rushmore of stupid ideas, and is nothing more than a NRA backed plan to sell more guns, and that’s literally the last thing this country needs.
This is not to say that there aren’t ways to limit and lesson the possibility of schools and other heavily trafficked areas here in America from being the next target for a mass shooter. In the past I’ve discussed what I believe are logical and sensible methods for lowering the staggering amount of mass shootings that seem to have reached epidemic proportions here in the U.S. We are after all, the only democracy in the world that seems to be suffering from this problem. While our social and economic fabric is considerably different from many of the homogenous and more financially equitable societies that exist in Europe and Asia, the ease that an American can purchase what is essentially a weapon of war has exacerbated this issue, and has led us to a moment in our country where perhaps there is enough of an outcry to actually bring about meaningful change in our approach to the ease in which guns are purchased.
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20% off! Wow, you can now perpetrate a discounted mass shooting. Thank you Walmart! (You Tube)
Unless you are literally a monster, even the most ardent gun supporters, (Notice I don’t say 2nd Amendment supporters. I don’t see the 2nd Amendment’s hand in the operating philosophy of the NRA and its fanatical leadership.) have trouble mustering the “courage” to attack children or teenagers who have the audacity to complain that they wish to be safe in their school. Therefore, as it pertains to the seemingly never-ending blood baths that we and our children must endure in our schools, here are some ideas that might begin to limit some of this carnage.
More Psychologists and Counselors – Forget money for guns for teachers. We need more support staff, and we need it now. Students today are too often coming to school with burdens and situations in their homes that simply haven’t prepared them for the emotional ups and downs that come with being a student in 2018. Social media has been a mixed blessing at best for today’s youth. Our young people simply don’t seem to have the coping skills to deal with the myriad of issues that plague them, and they appear to be quite prone to seeking out violent solutions either through attempted suicide or violence towards their peers. Trump’s usage of the word “coward” couldn’t possibly demonstrate less understanding of what it means to be a teenager with a mental or psychological issue. Arming teachers is supposed to be a cure, but increased counseling for troubled youths is a preventative. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention right?
No More Assault Rifles Sold to Anybody Under the Age of 21 – This one should be enacted immediately. The evidence that the teenage brain is not fully developed is overwhelming. The frontal cortex of the human brain, which is responsible for logic and reasoning doesn’t fully develop until a human is in his or her mid 20s. Teen thinking is influenced by the amygdala which controls immediate reaction, fear and aggressive behavior. The more this is researched, the more this has been confirmed, and yet, the NRA, and others would still support selling the AR-15, AK-47s, and other military style weapons, the ones used in mass shooting after mass shooting, to 18 year-olds. Do we really even need to debate this? Even the right-wing governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has now announced that he supports this idea.
Stop Selling Handguns to People Under the Age of 21 – Again, do we want the underdeveloped brain of a teenager to be able to carry a concealed weapon? Would metal detectors combat this issue? Perhaps, but all a student would have to do is wait outside at dismissal with his concealed weapon, and then start firing at the students, teachers, parents, and administrators as they walk out of the building. There’s a lot of things you can’t do legally in this country until you are 21, let’s add gun purchasing to that list.
Let’s Get Assault Rifles Out of Wal-Mart and Other Big Box Stores – Must we make it so easy to get one of these? I believe one is far better off having these types of weapons purchased (If they have to be purchased at all?) in a fully licensed gun and ammo shop. These people are experts when it comes to the law, and I believe that you would have a much better chance of having background checks and licensing processed properly by these types of establishments rather than at a Wal-Mart where the chances of a mistake being made would seem to me to be a lot greater.
If You Fail to do a Proper Background Check, You Lose Your License to Sell Firearms – How often do we hear from all of the various lawmakers who are owned and operated by the NRA that we have enough gun laws, they’re just not being enforced properly. Fine, so if you sell guns, and you fail to file the proper paperwork, you lose your license. If a government agency fails to do its due diligence, then the person responsible should lose their job, and that agency should be subject to a civil lawsuit by anybody who suffered damages as a result of this negligence. For more information, see the following (website: thetrace.org)
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That’s a lot of firepower to put into the hands of an 18 year-old with a still developing frontal cortex. Are you comfortable knowing that a teenager can go into a Wal-Mart, and purchase one of these? (New York Times)
In a perfect world, nobody would own assault rifles. I understand hunting and the weapons used for it. I’m not even against hand-guns in order to protect your home or business, but the AR–15 and the AK-47, as well as the Tech-9 have one purpose, and one purpose only. They are built to kill a lot of people quickly, and that is why they have been used in so many mass shootings by the perpetrators of these massacres. I would love to see them outlawed, along with many of the less well-known types of assault weapons, or at the very least, put a limit on the amount of bullets that they can hold at one time. Sadly, this is not likely to happen on a national level. At a minimum, let’s at least restrict teenagers from purchasing them legally.
Many now argue that the 2nd amendment was included into the BIll of Rights in order to allow the people to keep the government in check. They love to point to numerous examples of armed insurrection by individual citizens against what many paranoid individuals believe is a dictatorial government. The history of armed insurrection in this country is not a proud one. Both Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were attempts by Americans to fight the government in the early days of our republic. (Shay’s Rebellion pre-dates the Constitution, and was one of the motivating factors in reconsidering the Articles of Confederation.) The government, led by President George Washington, rode out to meet the instigators behind the Whiskey Rebellion, and they scattered almost immediately. Some so-called “rebels” like to point to the Civil War as yet another example of how an armed citizenry fought back against a tyrannical federal government. However, a closer look would reveal that this was simply a matter of individuals willing to use force to defend the evil institution of slavery, which to me is a lot worse than a government asking you to pay your taxes.
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It’s enough already. The government has a responsibility to protect its citizenry, especially our children. Red state Democrats like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, as well as many sensible Republicans have to find some common ground on this issue and tell the NRA, you are powerless here, take your money and stick it. (You Tube)
I find it pathetically amusing that some feel that they need an assault rifle to battle an over-reaching federal government. Aren’t these the same individuals who are always telling us to thank a soldier for their service? Who do you think you would be shooting at with those weapons of war that you feel you so desperately need? The same soldiers who protect and serve who you are always carrying on about. Are those are the ones you are prepared to kill?
As for the president, he can rant and rave about “Radical Islamic Terrorism” and illegal immigrants coming in to our country, and wreaking all sorts of havoc upon our populace, but the fact is that all of these mass murders are being committed by American citizens. Don’t allow the well-worn distractions regarding illegal immigration, 2nd amendment rights, terrorism, it’s too soon to talk about it, thoughts and prayers, what exactly is an assault rifle, etc…get in the way of meaningful legislation. The actions of the young people impacted by this past tragedy provide me with a glimmer of hope that perhaps we will see some changes made. Above all else, the only way to get the change you want is to vote. The pro-NRA people will be voting I can assure you of that, what about those who wish to see action taken? We will find out come November.