Dirty Harry Didn't Teach Trigonometry
Published: August 15th, 2013
By: Shawn Magrath

Dirty Harry didn't teach trigonometry

Call it a sign of the times. Some say it's been a long time coming and maybe that's true, but it's a travesty no less. Schools are acting on the idea of a diploma in every hand ... and a gun on every teacher.

Clearly, this isn't a piece about the diploma. Ever since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. that left 26 people dead – 20 children – the debate over gun control and second amendment rights nationwide has been impetuous. In Clarksville, Ark., the debate has overtaken the Clarksville School District with a recent controversial landmark decision to allow more than 20 teachers, administrators and other school employees to carry concealed weapons throughout the school day. According to news reports, the district is making use of an Arkansas law that permits licensed armed guards on campus.

I'll be blunt, “teacher” is not synonymous with “armed guard.” “Mentor,” “confidante,” “disciplinarian,” sure ... but not armed guard. Advocates of Clarksville's stance on gun totin' teachers argue that one trusted educator who carries a gun is better than an emotionally distraught adolescent on a murder/suicide mission, and perhaps that's true. But let's face it, teachers aren't the Hollywood action heros we all want them to be. They're trained in pedagogy, not polemology. If I remember correctly, Dirty Harry didn't teach trigonometry.

In spite of what can arguably be called a negligent move on the Clarksville School's behalf, armed staff at the school district are required to undergo extensive training – 53 hours worth. Given, 53 hours is much longer than your average conceal and carry. Even so, it beckons the question: Is 53 hours enough? All things considered, is it even possible to adequately train a teacher to take on a task they didn't sign up for? To take the life of a student and simply shake off the impending psychological damage to return to teaching?

Personally, I find it discomforting that even the most devout proponents of the second amendment (speaking particularly of the National Rifle Association) believe there is a place for arms in the teaching and learning business. The NRA claims that “the presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security” in schools. And in April, the organization even urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons.

Clarksville agrees. It seems the general consensus in Arkansas is that so long as the number of armed guards in schools consistently outweighs the number of dangerous gunman, then the problem becomes mitigated. I don't believe that to be true. In fact, I refuse to believe the solution to school shootings is more guns, particularly since there is no empirical evidence, to my knowledge, to prove more guns equates to more safety. It should be, in my opinion, the mission of schools to keep guns – all guns – out. Period.

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No doubt, the primary intent of schools like Clarksville is to keep students safe, I concede. Schools are, after all, one of the few remaining “safe” places for kids to turn in our increasingly dangerous and perplexing world. But for the sake of integrity, the line (assuming a line even exists) should be drawn; and what better place to draw it than putting a pistol in the hand of a teacher? Let's not overlook this issue for what it is: educators who, instead of teaching your basic reading, writing and arithmetic, are placed in a position to make life or death decisions. Is this reduction in mass school shootings really worth the inevitable increase in accidental shootings?

If you recall, the NRA waited a week to respond to the tragedy in Sandy Hook. Their solution: have an armed guard in every school. An entire week and that's the best they came up with – to fight gun violence in schools by adding more guns in schools. What can go wrong with that?

This is not a rant for stricter gun regulations, nor an attempt to feed the ill-educated conspiracy theory that the US government is enacting a total gun ban. This is a plea to keep guns out of schools ... all guns out of all schools.

I'm a firm believer that our culture and our general way of life has played a huge role in the acts of senseless shootings in recent years. Early pregnancies, broken families, conflicting work schedules, television, video games, toys, books, magazines, everything that makes us ... well, us ... it can all cumulate into one incredibly troubled individual if poorly handled. Given, there are some things that are beyond our control. But for the things within our control, it's time to be proactive.

More gun regulations just opens the door for an incredibly dangerous and incredibly costly black market, and the actions of schools like Clarskville turns schools into nothing better than a prison minus the orange jumpsuits. I think the solution is not to restrict guns. It's certainly not to add guns. If you want to help combat the growing epidemic of school shootings and agonizing devastation, hug your kid!

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