Most of you probably heard about or watched Ed Schultz’ interview of a Utah teacher who said she had a concealed carry permit and was bringing a gun into her classroom. When Ed asked her if she had told the children she replied no, and when asked if she had informed the parents she also said no, that it wasn’t necessary in her opinion.
Well, here are my impressions of that situation. First off, let me say that I am not anti-gun. I grew up in a household full of guns, and have owned handguns myself. I don’t at the present time, but it is strictly a matter of not feeling like I want to deal with a gun, not because I am opposed to owning a gun. When I was a kid, hunting was a necessity to help feed our large family. It was not a sport. If my dad didn’t fill his tags, by the end of the year, we didn’t eat any meat. So this is where I am coming from. Back to this teacher.
There are many things about this teacher that trouble me, and the whole idea of guns in a classroom. Many of the things I am about to say are conjecture about this particular teacher – they were not brought up in the interview, so if they are incorrect about her personally, I apologize in advance, but just apply the situation to classrooms and teachers and kids in general.
First, she stated that she did not tell the kids that she was carrying a gun. This is amazing to me on its face. Does she really believe the kids in her class don’t know? If so – she is either incredibly naive, or just plain stupid. No matter the age of the students, they do know. Kids are incredibly observant. Those little eyes see everything, they are watching everything. When you think they aren’t anywhere around, they are. And if one of them knows anything – they all do.
So, one of these days, one of those kids is going to ask her flat out if she is carrying a gun. What is she going to say? If she lies and says no, she has then damaged her credibility beyond repair in the eyes of her students. And not only the students in this class, but the students in the entire student body for the rest of time. Because the word will go out. What this means is that her effectiveness as a teacher is destroyed because the students now know that she is a liar first and foremost. They will not trust in or believe anything she says after that.
If she says yes, her effectiveness as a teacher is also destroyed as well. I don’t know what grade level she teaches, but the effects are bad no matter what. In lower elementary grades, the children will be afraid of her. They will see themselves as the “target” – that she is going to use the gun to shoot them. Young children do not understand some amorphous ‘other’ who may show up to harm them – they take things upon themselves. No amount of explanation will serve to dissuade them that they are not the ‘target’ or to blame. After all, we all know young children in the middle of divorce squabbles who are firmly convinced that they are solely to blame for their parents’ problems and cannot be convinced otherwise.
For older children and younger teens, the gun becomes a challenge. Who can get it, a game of dare, curiosity. They want to see it, touch it, examine it, experiment with it, see how it works. In other words – do what kids do. One of them will steal it, and one of them will shoot it. If they are very lucky, no one will get hurt. But with todays zero-tolerance laws – that one will go to jail, regardless. And whose fault is that? In the meantime, all the focus of the children is on the gun, not on their lessons. The teacher has, again, rendered herself irrelevant.
Now, this teacher has also stated that she saw no need to inform the parents of the fact that she is carrying a loaded gun in the classroom. I find this to be astounding. In a local school district where I live, parents sued successfully and had a teacher reprimanded and suspended simply for showing the movie “The Story of Stuff”. This is a movie about our consumer-driven economy and attempts to raise awareness of recycling, reusing and responsible purchasing. But the parents involved decided it was ‘liberal brainwashing’ and now if anyone wants to show this movie to students, they must have signed permission slips from every parent or the student is not allowed to watch. And yet this teacher thinks that carrying a loaded gun in the classroom is okay and not necessary to inform the parents? Well, as a parent myself, I would be outraged at the thought of a teacher of my child doing such a thing. I want my child’s teacher focused on teaching – not on worrying about a loaded gun!