Jonathan Swift once proposed that the solution to the famine in Ireland was for the hungry to eat their children. In the wake of the shooting deaths of twenty first graders in Newtown, Connecticut, legislators in Tennessee are suggesting a solution for any future loss of life in their schools: Train and arm the teachers. State Senator Stacey Campfield suggests, in his blog, that it is time for teachers and administrators to take back their campuses. With force. One of Stacey's cohorts, Frank Niceley, had this to say: “Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun]. These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have.” Niceley asserted that a ban on assault weapons would be pointless since those prone to violence would simply use other weapons. "If we outlaw spoons could we stop this obesity problem?" he asked. Great big, chocolate-flavored spoons? Maybe.
Remember back a few days ago when I asked for a discussion about how to make our schools safer? I wasn't asking for gun control, just some way to keep all the kids safe. I suppose at this level, I appreciate the quick minds of the Tennessee legislature, working to solve that problem. I would guess that gum-chewing in those classrooms would drop off to near zero. It also brings to mind the high percentage of faceless Internet commentators who type away at the bottom of virtually every article about mass shootings. The ones who insist that if there had only been one clear-headed gun owner in that crowd who could have returned fire, that everything would have turned out differently. You'll forgive me if I don't feel any comfort from turning our movie theaters, shopping malls and elementary schools into Dodge City. The one from two hundred and fifty years ago.
Jonathan Swift was a satirist. He wasn't actually suggesting that eating Irish children would solve the problem of famine. Who would have guessed that the Tennessee legislature was gifted with similarly sharp minds?