A new movement, called Educators for Gun Sense, has found a place in anti-firearms circles. While I embrace the message generally proposed by this organization (one of safe learning spaces free from hostile actors with guns), there are fundamental logical flaws extant in their platform. Below is the description of the intent of the movement from their own website (in italics). A link to their petition is at the bottom of this post. Because I am who I am, I feel compelled to show why these people are living in La-La Land where rainbows and unicorns dot the fairy-tale landscape. My comments are in bold.
Let me preface the following criticism of Everytown with a clarifying statement: America’s schools are incredibly safe places as far as gun violence is concerned. I point out (and link to) a specific statistic in my commentary below that speaks to that truth, but invariably someone will accuse me of hinting that schools aren’t safe places to work and learn. School shootings, particularly those that make national news, are the rare exception to the rule. Millions of children go to school every day, and virtually every day all of them return home without experiencing gun violence. Few places are safer than America’s classrooms, but that doesn’t relieve educators of their responsibility to plan for worst case scenarios, hence the criticism below.
We are America’s educators, the professionals who have devoted our lives to teaching the country’s next generation.
Indeed you are, but you do not speak for ALL educators.
Our job is to enrich the intellectual fabric of America. We teach your children to read their first words. We nurture the interests of budding scientists, philosophers, engineers and artists. We support scholars and colleagues as they strive to break new ground in academic fields of study.And 99.9% of the time in classrooms all across the United States, that is exactly what happens.
We became educators to foster learning, creativity, discovery and intellectual freedom in safe, productive environments. We did not–and do not–intend to do our jobs on schools and campuses where teachers, students or the public can carry a gun.But you do your jobs in the presence of firearms every day without knowing it. Contrary to the delusion under which you live your lives, people come onto your campus every day with firearms. Some of them are police officers. Some of them are parents who are carrying a concealed firearm. And yes, some of them are students who, under the constant threat of bullying, feel as though their only legitimate protection from harm is to have a firearm in their backpacks.
When I was a teaching intern in 1991, a student who sat front and center in my 4th period class was arrested for having a handgun on campus. We were informed (via the media, not the school) that said student had been carrying the weapon to school for 2 weeks prior to being discovered with it. That means the student sat with his gun a mere 4 feet away from me for most of a 60-minute class period.
You are surrounded by firearms – either in your school or in the homes immediately adjacent to your school – on a regular basis without incident. (And I’m not excusing students who break the law by carrying weapons to school, so don’t write nasty emails to me.)
We are deeply concerned with the gun violence that plagues the nation, and we believe that our country should be working toward solving this problem and saving lives. But forcing our schools and campuses to allow guns is not part of the solution. We will not stand for it.I, too, am deeply concerned about gun violence. However, contrary to your statement, our country IS working toward solving this problem. You just don’t like the solution that is being proposed and adopted in many corners of the country. From what I read on your site, you believe that ANY person with a gun is a threat. You couldn’t be more wrong. According to a number of sources, there are about 300 million guns in this country. On any given day, the chance that you will be caught in a school shooting is approximately 1 in 54,000. If legal gun owners were an issue, the carnage they create would fill your news channels 24/7/365. What you construe as ‘solving the problem’ is more background checks, mag cap restrictions, and outright bans on certain ‘scary’ weapons like AR-15s. You want government to protect you with legislative acts. Government interventions aren’t solutions; they are hindrances, particularly in light of the fact that someone who carries a weapon onto campus and opens fire has already violated a plethora of extant laws. Funny thing about criminals: they don’t give a hoot about laws. We reject a vision of America where teachers do double duty as armed guards, and where students bring a loaded gun to a lecture hall as casually as they might bring a laptop.I ask the following question frequently and seldom get a lucid answer: what is your plan should the unthinkable occur? Imagine this scenario: you are blissfully lecturing a room full of young minds when a lunatic with a small arsenal casually strides into your classroom and starts shooting. As he opens fire on you and your students, what is your plan? In the immediacy of that moment, what are you going to do? Are you going to plead for your life? Run? Tell the intruder that your classroom is a gun-free zone? Do tell.
Let me help you understand what is going to happen. You are going to the hospital at best and to the morgue at worst. And several of your students are going to join you at one of those two locations. Same scenario, but a trained concealed handgun carrier is sitting near the classroom door and sees the threat coming in. As the intruder raises his weapon in your direction, the concealed carrier draws her Glock and drains half of a 17-round mag into the guy. What will you do then? Again, let me help. You are going to go home and hug your loved ones.
Maybe your fear resides in the idea that a student will knock a teacher out, steal his/her gun, and open fire on his classmates. Granted this is a possibility (a remote possibility, but a possibility nonetheless), but it is still preferable to a student coming from home with a backpack full of loaded mags and multiple weapons. Don’t forget that Mrs. Jones or Mr. Williams in the classrooms next door just might be carrying their own weapons and will be able to act as first responders to our rogue student’s rampage. It’s still better than waiting 5-10 minutes for police to arrive. As educators, we are exceptionally good at distinguishing fact from fiction. We see through the fantasy, peddled by the gun lobby, that we would somehow be safer if our colleagues, students, or visitors were allowed to sit in our classrooms, attend tailgates and parties or roam our campuses while armed.Obviously you are not “exceptionally good at distinguishing fact from fiction.” Either that, or you prefer to dwell in the land of fiction where you get to make up your own set of facts. Gun free zones are simply high-body count zones or low-resistance zones to a lunatic with a gun who demonstrates little proclivity for obedience to the law.
We vow to vigorously fight any legislation that would allow civilians to bring guns into America’s primary schools, secondary schools and institutions of higher education. We resolve to speak out against attempts to normalize the presence of guns in places of learning. And we pledge to stand up for the safety of American educational spaces.If you were truly committed to campus safety, you would embrace the one thing that scares the hell out of a bad guy with a gun – and that is the presence of a legal gun owner who wisely carries her/his weapon.
If you’ve read all of this and still want to sign the Everytown pledge for Educators for Gun Sense, here is the link.