Reading students’ stories, watching young journalists find their better selves in the newsroom, and encouraging them to push for deeper reporting.
That’s all part of my university job description.
Strapping on a revolver and being ready to shoot is not.
While Arizona does allow people to have firearms locked in their vehicles while driving on campus roads or parked on campus, the state still has the sense to keep concealed weapons out of the hands of K-12 and university students, faculty and staff.
But since yet another mass killing of children last month, this time in Florida, politicians are again talking about training teachers to carry weapons to shoot and kill perpetrators on a mission to wreak violent havoc.
Not every teacher, mind you. Just those employees who would evidently become crack shots. Those who would dedicate themselves through several hours at the shooting range, and who would go through intensive background checks.
These gun-wielding school watchdogs could be third-grade teachers, university profs or school staff.
Our president and others are calling for teachers who are “adept at guns” to step up for this duty, one that he said would bring a bonus to their paychecks. At one point last week, he called for training and arming up to 40 percent of school employees.
But how can you be an exceptional teacher, if you are packing in your classroom, ever vigilant for an incoming attack? How can you do a good job serving lunches or coaching the debate team, if you feel the pinch of that holster on your belt, reminding you that it’s your job to protect the school every moment?
And if I’m keeping my handgun in my purse or backpack, what’s to keep an angry student from grabbing it and shooting the guy who yesterday in the cafeteria stole his girlfriend, or keep the kid from shooting me and those near me because of that D or F he received on his midterm exam? Proponents of guns in school might argue that, to avoid the above, I keep my pistol locked in a drawer. Sounds good. But by the time I hear the shots, grab the key to unlock the drawer, pull out the gun and take aim, students that I might have helped to safety could be dead on my classroom floor.
I know teachers and coaches have taken a bullet for their kids. I hope I would, too. I hope I never have to. But I also don’t want to start shooting at a perpetrator and, even if I’m well trained, end up shooting a couple of innocent bystander students or colleagues because that was the only way to take a shot at the crazy killer. (And make sure that’s a gun in his hand, and not the ubiquitous cell phone.)
The teens from Parkland, Florida, are taking to the streets and elected officials’ offices, to share their experiences, fears and demands. They are telling our generation that we have not protected our children — true — and that Congress needs to act by passing strong gun-control legislation.
As a mom, I would do anything to protect my children. As a teacher, I hope the only way I will ever have to protect my students is to teach, listen and support them.
I admire these Florida teenagers. They are not intimidated by the National Rifle Association, which fights gun reforms that would reduce their profit. Many of these young people will head to the polls this November, so politicians are more likely to listen to them than if they were not of voting age. As of last week, dozens of companies have joined in boycotting the NRA. We can thank the kids for that, too.
These students are attempting to do what we baby boomers have not been able to: Say #NeverAgain.