WUOMFM

Turning science teachers into soldiers is not the answer

Feb 28, 2018

Governor Rick Snyder said something remarkably sane earlier this week. Actually, the fact that people noticed it is a sad indication of how sick our society is.

“I don’t think having more guns is a good thing,” he said, meaning guns in schools. This remark ought to be in a class with “the sky is blue.” Or, “if you are caught in a thunderstorm, you may get wet.” Guns in schools are a bad idea, period.

Ask the families of those murdered in Florida.

However, no matter how many are slaughtered in no matter how many school massacres, some people don’t seem to be able to grasp the idea that maybe we should prevent people from getting guns, especially guns designed for mass killings.

Nor are they willing to see that outlawing guns in schools is just sheer common sense. Instead, our gun-happy lawmakers have apparently watched too many westerns, and think the answer is some sort of remake of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Take State Representative Jim Runestad, a Baby Boomer from northern Oakland County. He hates unions and hates the idea that workers constructing state buildings ought to be paid as much as the standard prevailing wage in the industry. But he does love guns, and thinks he has the solution to the school shooting crisis: More guns in schools.

He’s currently drafting legislation which would, according to Michigan Radio reports, allow districts to keep guns in school buildings for teachers to use in self-defense.

These guns would be hidden in locked compartments and would only be accessible to teachers who go through 80 hours of training in “how to engage with an active shooter.”

For added safety, the locked compartments where the guns are hidden could only be opened with the thumbprint of approved school employees. When I read that, I would have burst out laughing, if we weren’t talking about people being murdered.

The average school shooting lasts three minutes. Does Runestad, or anyone in their right mind, think a shooter is going to wait till one or more of the designated and trained teachers goes to the weapons cache, holds their thumb up to be properly identified, and then gets the weapon out and gets ready to do battle? Does he think there is going to be any warning?

Common sense knows better. I don’t know much about Representative Runestad, except that he turns 59 tomorrow, and I don’t know how well he remembers high school. But I can tell him this: The students, some of them anyway, will soon find out where the weapons are stored.

They will also, sooner or later, at some school or another find a way to get them. I can think of all sorts of scenarios, none of them good. Legislators also might want to think about what really would be likely to happen even if a teacher with a little training tries to play Dirty Harry in an active shooter situation. The odds are that the outcome might well be even more tragic.

Guns don’t belong in schools, and trying to transform schools into armories won’t work. You can make a rational argument for having trained and armed security in some schools.

But trying to turn social studies teachers into Secret Service agents makes no sense.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.