So let's get down to it: If we who are against the killing of innocents truly want to make the sacrifice that will make the difference we all want, should we arm ourselves as a trade for common sense gun reforms? Part of this question is hyperbole, and part of it is rhetorical, but there is a seed in here of actual negotiation. If arming teachers was the thing that would set Congress in motion to create real-life consistent pathways to responsible gun ownership, I might consider strapping a pistol to my hip in order to get that ball rolling.
But here's the interesting thing: The same frothing mouths that make these suggestions after children are slaughtered are the same ones that insist that teachers as a group are a bunch of leftie groomers whose only interest is in converting students into mindless followers of a socialist agenda. Every student with whom I have had conversation about gun control has been adamant about the need for a safe place to learn. This is a generation that has been brought up with lockdown drills. They know what it can mean to have a "bad guy on campus." We have fire drills, and earthquake drills, and lockdown drills. The ones that seem to have the biggest problem with this is the teachers. Somehow it's the adults who can't wrap their heads around the idea of a gun showing up in their classroom. For the kids, a bad guy with a gun is every bit a real as a trembler on the Hayward fault or a fire set in the boys room. It is their reality. They have never been to an airport without having to take their shoes off before boarding. It is not fear. It is the world in which they live.
I'm a grownup who can remember when the phrase "school shooting" would have given me pause. Someone was mad and was shooting at the building? Something awful happened and the police chase ended near the school? Twenty-three years ago, I had my naivete stripped away when two high schoolers in my home state of Colorado tore the lid off. With each passing day, another murderous assault takes hold of the nation, and we all stare in wonder. How could this happen? Admittedly, mass shootings are about as "predictable" as earthquakes, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be prepared for them.
Which is why we have the kids, as young as five, gather together in a corner of their classroom while their teacher closes the blinds and turns off the light, waiting for the all clear signal. Nervous laughter fills the air as we go back about our business, and the grownups try not to think about the potential of this drill becoming the real thing. Would I have the presence of mind to return fire if I was confronted by a bad guy with a gun? Only if I were thoroughly trained and vetted for such a moment of crisis. And I could be convinced that there wasn't a better solution. If I could be assured that by volunteering to be that last line of defense that someone whose job it is to make laws could work just as effectively to make it less likely that I would ever be forced into that situation.
Or maybe we should ask all those legislators to come down and run through a few active shooter drills themselves. From the looks of what happened on January 6, 2021, it doesn't appear that they are ready either.