'Should teachers be armed?" Fast Focus: It's not like the movies

January 20, 2013 

Instantly upon hearing the proposal, that we arm our teachers, an image filled my mind: that of the walls and guard towers surrounding the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. That image was followed in quick succession by flashes from the movies Man On Fire, To Sir With Love, The Substitute, and Ferris Buehler's Day Off.

Then I tried to seriously consider what armed teachers would look like ... but I kept seeing armor-plated Hummers that pulled up to openings in tilt-up concrete walls (enclosing schoolyards filled with 30-year old "temporary classrooms") and disgorged children wearing bullet-proof backpacks, who then ran from the vehicles to the compound interior through a phalanx of body-armored and helmeted security guards with M-16s at the ready position ....

Still, I just can't picture Sister Mary Katherine or Ms. Dzwinnell or Mrs. Houghton or even Mr. Powell packin' iron, let alone into the classroom. Not that they didn't (except Sister Mary K. of course) but it's tough for me to visualize. And I keep wondering what the psycho-social behavioral ramifications might be for the kids. Would they feel resentment? -- (s)he wouldn't act so tough if (s)he didn't have a gun! Would they be fearful of such innocence as passing a note lest Ms. Jones shoot it out of their hands? And how would all that carry through into their young adulthood and beyond?

Add in the hard fact that the probability a gun will be fired at a given location increases as the number of guns increases at that location and I just don't think -- even without considering the foibles that might beset any individual teacher on any given Monday -- that arming our teachers is even remotely close to sound judgment. Just imagine the furor when an armed teacher snaps or a student gets ahold of their weapon ....

But if you all insist, despite the evidence to the contrary, that more firearms in our schools are the best deterrents to firearm violence in our schools, then perhaps a program akin to the undercover sky marshals on our airliners might be a thoughtful idea.

-- Peter Mikkelsen, Pasco

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