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OP-ED | Arming Teachers Is No Cure For Dangers Of Gun-Obsessed Culture

by | Oct 15, 2015 6:54pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2016, Opinion, White House

Following the mass shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College in early October, President Barack Obama said, “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it ... We have become numb to this.”

As if on cue, two more college shootings occurred eight days later – one at Northern Arizona University and the other at Texas Southern University, each resulting in one death.

The Twitter responses from politicians seeking the Republican presidential nomination were predictable.

“Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy,” tweeted Jeb Bush.

“My prayers are with everyone in Oregon,” echoed Mike Huckabee. “May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts.”

“The thoughts and prayers of Ohioans go out to the families & victims of the tragic shooting in Oregon today,” added John Kasich.

Candidate Ben Carson, meanwhile, had a different take: “If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere, [I] would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon.”

And if that person were a teacher?

“If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn’t.”

Donald Trump likewise proclaimed, “Let me tell you, if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”

Rand Paul was way ahead of both Carson and Trump, stating after the 2013 Sandy Hook tragedy, “If my kids were at that school, I would have preferred that the teacher had concealed-carry and had a gun in her desk.  Is it perfect? No. Would they always get the killer? No. Would an accident sometimes happen in a melee? Maybe. But nobody (at Sandy Hook) had any defense, and he just kept shooting until he was tired and he decided to shoot himself.”

Rand, Trump and Carson are backed by gun advocates such as Jenn Jacques, who asserts that “we must stand up and tell our representatives that we need our schools to be policed by law-abiding citizens – parents, teachers, and school officials willing to conceal-carry for our children’s protection. Whether it’s on the elementary school playground or on a college campus, our students’ lives deserve to be protected. By any means necessary.”

Never mind that “88 percent of Americans — including 88 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans — favor expanding background checks,” according to a Pew Research Center poll.

Forget that “85 percent of Democrats favor [the] creation of a database for the federal government to track gun sales,” according to the same poll, and that even a majority of Republicans – 55 percent – support that same idea.

Any restriction on gun sales or expansion of screening programs is repeatedly rebuffed by a very loud minority of gun advocates.

“In our system of government, with its many veto points, a vocal minority will always beat a passive majority. Only a very small percentage of Americans consider gun control a major priority when considering how they’ll vote,” explains a Slate article. “The people who do strongly factor guns into their calculations are those who fear the government taking their guns away. When gun-control legislation is introduced on the federal level, gun rights activists, and organizations like the National Rifle Association, successfully mobilize to pressure lawmakers into stopping it.”

Thus, it logically follows that many of the solutions for mass shootings – especially when they happen on school grounds – ironically involve more guns carried by law-abiding authority figures like teachers.

How refreshing! Teachers can’t be trusted to join the conversation about school reform, but at least we can be relied upon to pack heat in school hallways and on busy playgrounds!

Except that I don’t want to “conceal carry” on the job. And many law-enforcement and security organizations don’t want me to, either.

“Members of the police have voiced their reservations about arming teachers,” reports the Center for Homicide Research. “Texas police brought up the potential for teachers to leave a gun where a student could retrieve and use it. They are further concerned that if every teacher had a gun, there would be an unnecessarily large number of guns in schools (even including elementary schools). This large number of guns could lead to accidental shootings, especially those involving younger children who do not understand what guns do.”

Similarly, one private firm, National School Safety and Security Services, says “it is short-sighted for those supporting the idea to believe that educators who enter a profession to teach and serve a supportive, nurturing role with children could abruptly kick into the mindset to kill someone in a second’s notice.”

Teachers themselves are overwhelmingly against the idea, too. In Connecticut, “more than three quarters (77 percent) are against plans to arm teachers,” while “72.4 percent of teachers (nationwide) would not likely bring a firearm to school, if allowed.”

I know I won’t be bringing a gun to school any time soon. But I get the idea. Since I first entered the classroom 25 years ago, I’ve evolved from a plain old English teacher into a social worker-standardized test tutor-surrogate parent-English teacher. Now, many politicians want me to become a gun-toting, Wild West sheriff.

I wish that once – just once – our leaders didn’t look at schools and their teachers as the cure for society’s ills. Especially when those ills involve a gun-obsessed culture.

Barth Keck is an English teacher and assistant football coach who also teaches courses in journalism and media literacy at Haddam-Killingworth High School. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(20) Archived Comments

posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 15, 2015  11:45pm

It works in Texas, Hoss.

posted by: Greg | October 16, 2015  11:20am

I agree with this and have always thought the whole argument of arming teachers was rather absurd.  Teachers teach. Period.  The prospect of CCW for your run of the mill history or math teacher in k-12 points to a half-baked, reactionary policy prescription while ignoring any root cause to be considered.

What changed since the mid-90s? 

High schools used to have rifle teams.  There weren’t locked, isolated foyers where someone had to be buzzed in.  Schools weren’t and didn’t need to be the armored fortresses they are now, and IMO gun culture hasn’t changed much since the 70’s or prior. You could bring a water gun and leave it in your locker for after school without calling the SWAT team. Bullying has existed since the beginning of time. So, what changed?

Even in the “ghetto” schools where the likelihood of gang and drug issues were to surface there wasn’t the pervasive threat of violence, gun or otherwise, we now see. 

So, what changed? 

I’ll go out on a limb and throw out such things as helicopter parenting, over-protectiveness to the point where risk and hardship is removed from a child’s development, zero-tolerance nonsense, not allowing children the overmedication for ADHD/depression/whatever with amphetamines and SSRI’s,  medicating kids with amphetamines and SSRI’s instead of actually raising them and instilling discipline in the home and in school, letting kids work out differences (read: bullying) instead of having the state step into every interpersonal conflict between children…

There was a magical time in our nations history when schools weren’t shot up and teachers needed to be armed.  Perhaps figuring out how to de(re)-evolve society back to that point is a much better long term solution.

posted by: B Keck | October 16, 2015  2:54pm

Good points, Greg. I’d add that the gun lobby has become increasingly influential (translation: $$$) in the past 20 years, resulting in a political climate where legislators are afraid to stand up for sensible gun-control laws.

And as for Texas, Biff, just what do you mean by “it works”? I do know that in schools or colleges where teachers carry guns, accidents have already happened, including the one Utah elementary school teacher who “somehow shot herself in the leg while in a school restroom.” (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58402182-78/horsley-teacher-district-elementary.html.csp)

posted by: gutbomb86 | October 16, 2015  4:16pm


Barth, as always, a thoughtful piece and I couldn’t agree more. Once again, we have people who, by and large, have zero faith in the teaching profession and would like to see teachers make half or less of their current pay and who denigrate them continually because of their unionization, but yet they want them to carry firearms. Absolutely no good can come of that.

@biff - as if texas has no gun violence… another ridiculous comment.

@greg - you’re trying to blame helicopter parenting and over-use of prescription meds for gun violence now. Ridiculous. Just a massive cop-out. There are 40 million people in the US with mental illness. And, frankly, I’ve seen quite a few gun advocates exhibit symptoms of mental illness in these comment threads and on social media, and in public hearings at the capitol.

When will gun advocates take some responsibility for this mess? PROLIFERATION of firearms is the problem that leads to GUN VIOLENCE. It is statistically impossible for there to be another cause for GUN VIOLENCE. Accept it. It’s time to start treating firearms like vehicles and require bigger investment, insurance, and personal responsibility for what happens in connection with the firearm. Inspections of gun safes. All of it.

Look the gov’t can’t take them all away as most paranoid gun advocates want people to think. But it would be great if ...

1) the Congress would fund the gov’t so that the laws already on the books can be enforced. It is YET ANOTHER cop-out to throw up your hands and say the gov’t needs to enforce the existing laws while you also support the party that is trying to defund the gov’t that enforces them at every turn.

2) we accepted reality that the gov’t already has the big list of gun owners and hasn’t moved to take them away

3) we stopped the big charade and treat gun violence just like any other behavioral or biological epidemic so that we can get real data on the problem. Don’t complain that we aren’t focusing on the mental illness aspect when you’re also refusing to allow the CDC to study mental illness as it relates to firearms.

4) advocates took off the ridiculous tin-foil hats about gov’t over-reach on this and everything else

5) advocates stopped pretending that they think “gun free zones” actually exist in a country where people can move about freely and buy guns anywhere and everywhere and walk back into so-called gun free zones. It’s a stupid meme and has not meaning.

6) people in general stopped worshiping guns and the capacity to do violence.

It’s not helicopter parenting that leads to violence. It’s a lack of good parenting, a lack of personal character, and a lack of human decency. The gov’t never caused these failings in people - they have always been there and always will,. The gov’t isn’t going to change that either. People are people. Regulate firearms better to reduce gun violence. Vehicular deaths have decreased dramatically with every safety requirement.

posted by: Truth_To_Power | October 16, 2015  6:49pm

gutbombs post is a perfect example of why there won’t be any honest discussions about guns and gun violence. Advocates of disarmament, like him, preach about honesty in the discussions but demand that honesty starts AFTER they’ve listed all of the areas that are NOT open to discussion and dismissed them as paranoid delusions.

And so it goes on

posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 16, 2015  7:04pm

“Texas school district arms teachers and posts warning signs”

Take a look at the photo in the article of the sign in front of the public school that states the school staff is armed. Don’t Mess With Texas!

I have had the good fortune to live in six states and experience the various regional cultures. Including Texas. Some states are just made of stouter stuff than you find in CT today.

Over the past 40 years CT has become soft, passive, reactionary.  It shows in a variety of ways.

If CT wants to continue to be a passive state so be it. Long live the 10th Amendment.

Other states choose to be tough, aggressive and proactive. More aggressive protecting school children. More aggressive protecting tax payers…  Again, long live the 10th Amendment.

Wouldn’t you like to see CT be great again?  Then stop accepting the lame status quo.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 16, 2015  7:11pm

The Op-Ed Mr. Keck needs to write isn’t about guns, but WHY he has had to “evolve”. Care to take that one on Mr. Keck?

“Since I first entered the classroom 25 years ago, I’ve evolved from a plain old English teacher into a social worker-standardized test tutor-surrogate parent-English teacher.

posted by: gutbomb86 | October 16, 2015  7:25pm


@truth - like i said, disarmament won’t happen. Wake up. Or, pull that tinfoil hat on a little tighter - you’ve got to keep the obvious facts out of there!

@biff - let’s talk about your motives instead of Barth’s, ok Biff? Yours are the problem, not Barth’s. You have yet to answer the obvious problem produced by the mass proliferation of firearms throughout our society.

It’s typical of you and your pals so I won’t expect much. I gave you and @truth_to_power opening to engage in a realistic way and you smashed your pickups into the wall next to it rather than drive through. The rest of us are on the other side trying to solve the problem. Just keep clinging to nonsense.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 16, 2015  7:46pm


Motives? My motivation is to see CT finally pull it’s collective head out of its bum.

Until then, I’ll just stick with stats…FBI stats, my favorite.

Gun murder rate falling while gun ownership rate rises. 

Oooops…there goes your “ends justifies the means” progressive narrative.

posted by: B Keck | October 16, 2015  10:46pm

How about you read my previous op-ed, Biff?  I think I offered a few suggestions in that piece to explain why all teachers have found it necessary to evolve.

posted by: Truth_To_Power | October 17, 2015  9:00am

gutbomb: like I said - there can’t be honest discussions when one side insists on deciding what’s open to discussion and what isn’t. Your posts exemplify this. As long as ‘your side’ insists its your way or the highway, nothing moves forward.

I’m obviously not smart enough to discuss this with you. Your astute observation makes it clear that my tinfoil hat is too tight.

For your edification, read the two columns about THE GUN CONTROL FARCE dated 10-13 & 10-14, at this link, after which I’m sure you will degrade and attack the writer to prove your point. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something useful - but I doubt it.


posted by: justsayin | October 17, 2015  9:13am

Barth, quite an overstated article. No one wants you to carry a gun, the logic is simple if you had one the situation(s) outcome you mention would probably end better.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 17, 2015  8:33pm

So much WIN in this simple, progressive myth busting graph!
Of course as with everything that is kryptonite to the Progs blabative, this bit of long term data yumminess will be discounted or ignored. And the brave data geeks who contrived such a heresy shall be slain upon the alter of political correctness for daring to point out to the high priests of gun control that in fact, the world is indeed not flat.


posted by: Clean Agent | October 18, 2015  3:01pm

Barth, I enjoy reading your op-eds. I don’t agree totally with this one. But, that is the point of an op-ed. It is an opinion piece and sparks a debate. You got me. I saw, I clicked and I read. 

BUT…...I think you (and President Obama) need to keep something in perspective. “Mass” shootings or ANY shootings at schools are highly sensationalized extremely rare events. Every news station in the nation runs 3 hours of content per day for 3 days about every single one. So, it does seem like it is commonplace and routine. In all reality, it is not. All of the politicians would be better off just keeping their mouths (or twitter accounts) shut. Nobody really cares that they are praying for some school somewhere. Actually, come to think of it, are they even REALLY praying? I doubt it.

Yes, I know that one of those Bloomberg funded anti-gun groups claims there were 150 “School Shootings” since Sandy Hook. I don’t need a link to it. Looking at their page shows you that they include many suicides and accidental discharges as “School Shootings.” (The Utah teacher you mentioned in a response to another comment is included) This is very misleading and is done simply as a tactic to further an anti-gun agenda when people blindly cite their information as a source.

The fact of the matter is that even if we take the 150 “school shootings” (again, which include accidents, suicides and incidents during the middle of the night) at face value, that number amounts to less than 1/8th of 1% of all schools in the country have been affected by some sort of “gun discharge” in the last three years. This is not exactly a very scary statistic is it? It is probably way less than how many gas stations, liquor stores, convenience stores or banks have a gun discharge. You don’t get scared when you fill up your car do you?

I do agree with you about you not bringing your gun to school. You can leave it home. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than need a gun in your classroom. In fact, the most terrifying part of your school day should be the drive in. Make sure you wear a seat belt and look twice before pulling into traffic.

Some politicians only want to give you the option to exercise YOUR constitutional right, Barth. That is it. Just the option to exercise YOUR right if you choose to. Why would you not want the right to choose? Do you feel that you can’t trust the OTHER teachers?

posted by: B Keck | October 18, 2015  5:36pm

Thanks, Biff and Clean Agent for the continued discussion.

To Biff: The chart you linked is indeed instructive. I have read similar information regarding how violent crime has been in decline—further evidence, in fact, for the needlessness of teachers to conceal-carry in schools. (By the way, I hope you took the time to read my previous op-ed in which I “cared to take on” the reasons teachers’ roles have evolved over the years.)

To Clean Agent: Thanks for reading my op-eds even though you don’t always agree. Indeed, there’d be no point in writing opinion pieces otherwise. As I just implied, my point was not to decry any apparent rise in mass shootings; rather, it was to criticize the current movement to encourage teachers to bring guns to school (read more here: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/02/04/states-renew-push-for-guns-in-k-12-schools). And as for politicians endorsing my “constitutional right” to carry a gun to school, I respectfully disagree with that concept. To answer your question, yes, I would feel more than a bit uneasy if other teachers had guns in schools. In short, more guns in any school is a bad idea unless they are being handled by law-enforcement officers. If you’ve ever spent time in a high school, perhaps you’d understand my wariness.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | October 18, 2015  10:54pm

I just don’t think requiring current scardy fraid teachers to pack heat is a good idea. Who knows what would happen if this inept group carried firearms. But it may be a good idea to have a program to train ex-military folks to teach.

Lots of advantages, lots.


posted by: Biff Winnetka | October 19, 2015  6:02am


You completely miss the point about arming school staffs.  Bad guys with guns and evil intent actively seek out “gun free zones”.  Your passivity makes you a target. YOU put the kids at risk.

When the bad guys know you are a “hard target” they will avoid you.

Texas gets it.

posted by: Greg | October 19, 2015  11:04am

Gut- First you call my hypothesis (and yes, it is a hypothesis) a cop-out then you say:

“It’s not helicopter parenting
that leads to violence. It’s a lack of good parenting, a lack of personal character, and a lack of human decency”

So you cherry pick “helicopter parenting” out of my comment to go on an angry rant and then actually agree with me? Thanks for that. 

Perhaps you’d like to demonstrate your intellectual superiority to the rest of us yokels using CAPS to tell us what broke at Columbine, since that seemed to be the turning point for kids to think shooting up their school was OK.  Perhaps I’m wrong on my history, but there was NEVER a threat of this type of mass school violence back in the 80’s and 90’s as I’ve already explained. There was a fundamental change in society as we’ve seen since and you blaming tin-foil hat gun nuts for society’s problems is the COP-OUT if there is one.  Guns have been around here in ‘Merica since the first Europeans landed in North America and firearms ownership rates have dropped in recent history…meaning there was a time in ‘Merica when MORE people were actually armed…yet no school shootings like now.

So, gut, tell us what changed…

Oh, and when I was a kid ADHD was not even a term used in clinical practice.  Now its estimated 11% of kids have ADHD.  An estimated 13% of the US population is on antidepressants.

What changed?

Perhaps you don’t see that as a problem, but I certainly do and I’d be an idiot to ignore how medications can alter brain chemistry to the point of a small subset of individuals having new found violent tendencies that didn’t exist before. I’d be a dummy to ignore that, but then again I’m just copping out on trying to look at more to this issue than just a machined piece of steel.

posted by: Dave391973 | October 21, 2015  4:18pm

You don’t to make it mandatory for a teacher to carry a firearm, make it voluntary. I know instructors who would be willing to teach the course to a teacher for free, they would still have to pay for the application and fees. In Utah teachers are concealed carrying in the classroom right now. Here’s a stat for you, The number of people killed in a potential mass shooting event when stopped by the police, 14. The number of people killed in a mass shooting event when the killer is stopped by a armed civilian, 2.5 Any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count, they are only minutes away. Carry on!

posted by: joev | November 1, 2015  11:50am

Typical misguided position. Its not about arming teachers by design like the way the armed services or law enforcement does when people enlist or are employedby such, its about not arresting and prosecuting those teachers or secretaries or other facilities employees that have gone through the process of being legally able to carry a firearm. Stop declaring anywhere gun free and reestablish the possibility of immediate armed resistance.

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