A welcome outbreak of sanity

Instapundit links to this interesting news story: Texas school district lets teachers, staff pack pistols. While this is a step in the right direction, I think it does not go far enough.

I think all teachers, day-care staff, and other adults in loco parentis for groups of children should be required to carry firearms on the job. Maintaining continued proficiency at rapid-reaction tactical shooting should be a condition of their continued employment. Their job is to protect children; if they are not physically, mentally, and morally competent to do that job, they don’t belong in it.

I doubt any explanation of the threat model is needed. But I will point out that the Israelis require schoolteachers to be armed – and the only successful terrorist attack in memory on a group of Israeli schoolkids happened after the teachers, on a field trip, allowed themselves to be disarmed at a Jordanian border post.

51 thoughts on “A welcome outbreak of sanity

  1. To hell with that, arm the *students*. Pretty much all school shootings seems to occur in the upper grade levels; I can’t think of any elementary school that’s ever been shot up. By at least junior year of high school (and generally much earlier), any non-psychopathic kid with a civilized upbringing should be able to responsibly handle a weapon.

    Apropos to this is http://thelawdogfiles.blogspot.com/2007/04/virginia-tech-shooting.html, to which I would add that Liviu Librescu is the greatest credit to the human race that the 21st century has yet to produce.

  2. Sorry, Eric, but I can’t go this far. While I agree that teachers ought to be able to choose to arm themselves for their own and their students’ protection, I do not agree that they should be forced to do so, any more than I think anyone should be forced to arm themselves in any other circumstance. Carrying a firearm is not a choice to be made lightly, or without a lot of thought.

    The same deterrent effect as allowing people to arm themselves in society overall would apply to allowing teachers to arm themselves, and that, to me, is sufficient.

  3. I think it should be encouraged and rewarded, but not required. There are many people who are superb at child care (or teaching) who either wouldn’t or couldn’t master that skill. I don’t think even the Israelis go that far. They may expect teachers to be armed, and to have some level of proficiency, but gunfight skills are another level up, and fairly high up at that.

  4. I think you’re making the classic mistake of designing your security around vanishingly rare (but newsworthy) events. Teachers are paid to teach, not to take out the perps in the extraordinarily unlikely event of a school shooting.

  5. We don’t live in Israel. The countries we border are not trying to wipe us out. The likelihood of a terror attack on our soil is extremely unlikely. Further, we don’t have mandatory military service here, so it’s unlikely that teachers would even be competent to safely use a firearm around childfren. Working under the Israeli threat model would be wasteful and possibly dangerous.

    It’s fine if a teacher seeks out training and is capable of defending children with a gun, but requiring such is a bad idea.

  6. i grew up in a profoundly peaceful aggressive libertarian-socialist environment (north australia) (we’ll help you up but we won’t keep holding you up, and we’ll knock you down if you try to hold us down). and have listened open-mouthed to UK teachers narrate what they genuinely believe to be “successful” days.

    so this article immediately delighted me with the hilarious mental image of:

    Teacher:
    “I said (*click-clatch*, levels gun at class): SIT DOWN!!

  7. >The likelihood of a terror attack on our soil is extremely unlikely.

    The threat model I have in mind is not confined to terrorists, it includes ordinary sickos as well.

    >“I said (*click-clatch*, levels gun at class): SIT DOWN!!“

    That, of course, would be hideously wrong and grounds for the teacher to be fired and prosecuted.

    I sympathize with those who think this skill shouldn’t be required, but I think it would be a very useful filter for a would-be teacher’s degree of commitment to the welfare of the kids. It’s not just that I want predatory wackos dead before they could do harm, I want a clear sign that the teachers have the same priorities I would — a willingness to kill or if necessary die before allowing the kids to be harmed. That commitment would matter even in situations that are not so extreme.

  8. Another advantage is that it would probably tend to select toward smarter people. Active military, veterans, and even people who have just taken the time to learn a weapon and learn it well tend (in my experience) to be far more knowledgeable about the current world, probably because they consider it a real possibility that the shit will hit the fan. When it does, a knowledge of current events will give them an indication of who their enemies might be, and what they’ll be carrying. Furthermore, in the modern world, “current events” doesn’t just entail battlefield movements, as it might have 1000 years ago. Rather, it entails things like science and technology, as well as foreign languages.

  9. I would have to disagree – teachers are paid to teach. If schools really need more security, then there should be people whose primary job is to provide armed security-cops, reserve soldiers, private firm, what have you. (Not that I discourage CCW with teachers.) With regard to shooting skills, it is ridiculous to say that every schoolteacher must be a rifleman first (as cool as that sounds).

    Would you also support a law requiring actual parents to be armed? There are many parents who don’t meet your paladin-like standard of commitment that teachers should have. Should the state take it upon itself to ensure that they are not allowed to raise children?

  10. “Teachers are paid to teach.” Too bad they’re not doing it. Maybe if you could get some who had already demonstrated by their actions that they care about the kids, they’d also care enough to teach.

    When I was a nerdy kid, I got bullied a lot. Do you know what those “caring” teachers told me? “It takes two to start a fight.” IOW, “Fuck you. You’re on your own, bitch. Do you think I’m going to risk my own chickenshit ass for a geek like YOU? Some of those parents are tough!” Granted, it did encourage me to be a tough adult, rather than an intellectualoid Harvard-type twit, but it still left me bitter. To this day, I still get pissed any time I hear about how much our teachers sacrifice for our children.

    I don’t want to see parents REQUIRED to arm themselves, but I really do think a parent unwilling to arm himself to defend his house should be held in low regard, much like a man who stays at home cheating on his wife while she earns the family paycheck.

  11. Good for them. The Virginia Tech massacre got my seriously thinking about arming myself for the first time, but I don’t think California permits carrying guns on university campuses. I would only use my weapon as a last resort if I was cornered.

    >When I was a nerdy kid, I got bullied a lot. Do you know what those “caring” teachers told me? “It takes two to start a fight.” IOW, “Fuck you. You’re on your own, bitch. Do you think I’m going to risk my own chickenshit ass for a geek like YOU? Some of those parents are tough!”

    That was my experience as well.

    >Granted, it did encourage me to be a tough adult, rather than an intellectualoid Harvard-type twit, but it still left me bitter.

    Who says being a geek and being tough are mutually exclusive?

  12. “Their job is to protect children; if they are not physically, mentally, and morally competent to do that job, they don’t belong in it.”

    Heh. I think you have more in your mind than what you wrote here – the worst kinds of teachers would quit if this would be a requirement and less bullshit would be taught.

    Anyway. It reminds me of a story. There was a gun and rifle exhibition in Denmark and a shooting range next to it to try the stuff. And a wonderful Tibetan Buddhist Teacher, Künzig Shamarpa visited it. So imagine this, there are all these big, tall, strong Norse bikers and rockers who tend to visit such places, and a small, short Asian monk wearing a red skirt and a shaved head comes in, smiling and bowing in their usual modest, polite ways. They were quite baffled, of course. So he goes to the shooting range, asks for a rifle (a monk!) and freakin’ perforates the very center of the target. Then he smiles, bows, gives it back and begins to leave. After collecting their jaws from the floow, they stopped and asked him, WTF? The last thing they expected was that someone who looks like the Dalai Lama to come in and shoot, and shoot damned well. So he explained that he is from the eastern province of Tibet called Kham (a Khampa – Google Alexandra David-Neel and Gentleman Brigands), and the lamas there always carried rifles and practiced with it a LOT. Because there are highwaymen in the mountains and a teacher is of course supposed to take care of his students, it goes without saying, when their parents send their children to him, they expect to get them back alive. That’s roughly the way he explained it. (Makes you wonder if the pacifism of the Dalai Lama is really a Buddhist tradition or just the usual meekness of city-dwellers.) Anyway, quite a funny story I think. :)

  13. >Heh. I think you have more in your mind than what you wrote here – the worst kinds of teachers would quit if this would be a requirement and less bullshit would be taught.

    Well, of course.

  14. Firing a round in a classroom jeopardizes the lives of people in neighboring classrooms. I was taught that it’s not OK to threaten to shoot unless you’re willing to actually shoot; I wouldn’t put that kind of moral burden on any teacher.

  15. A few facts

    I live in Israel. My sons teacher does NOT carry a gun. I have never heard of any requirement by TEACHERS to carry guns. (some might, and I have seem some do so). However there is a paid guard at the school gate with a gun.
    My daughters kindergarten also has a paid armed guard. These guards are required by law.(We remember Maalot 1974 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%27alot_massacre ).

    When going on fields trips there is a requirement to have a armed guard.

    The attack on “Island of Peace” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Island in 1997 was against a group from Bet Shemesh (I live there).

    I think that the teacher should focus on teaching and others focus on security.

  16. Israeli schoolteachers are not required to be armed. There are required to be guards at schools, probably armed, but I am not familiar with the details of the law. It may even be disallowed for teachers (not serving as guards) to have weapons on school grounds. (I know that was the case, no weapons allowed, at the Hebrew University a few years ago when I was there, though that might have been a special rule that the university decided on.) In any case, if a teacher want to voluntarily take a weapon to school, he/she would have to get a weapon permit, which is only given if the applicant has a legitimate (in the eyes of the state) reason for it. Of course, this being Israel, the authorities are not overly restrictive in what they consider a legitimate reason, but it’s still not easy for an average law-abiding citizen outside of the West Bank without any special reason to carry a weapon to get a permit.

    -Adam in Jerusalem

  17. “Teachers are paid to teach.” (said by several people.)

    You’ve failed if you define protection of yourself – and those given to your care as children in school are – as a paid profession that only certain people can perform.

    Issuing weapons might not be the best way to deal with that – but notice how quickly it polarized some people (the ones saying “But, but, they’re not paid for that.” Actually, there’s no reason we can’t expect that to be part of their job any more than detecting abuse, for example. If you were to ask educations to justify their salaries, I’d be certain that almost all would claim that they – now – are responsible for the children’s well-being.
    If you say: You’re responsible and we expect you to demonstrate that you can responsibly carry out your responsibilities it very quickly brings clarity as to what that will mean in reality.
    However, since we can’t manage to even adjudge teaching, I don’t think we’ll succeed with forcing the educational system to take ownership of their obligations. (Funny how they like to seize “obligations” that carry with it additional staff and money.)

  18. >Israeli schoolteachers are not required to be armed

    Hm, perhaps the massacre story I read conflated the teachers with the guards.

  19. I’d rather have the teachers armed than expressly having guards at a school. As has been hinted at, requiring firearms training and certification would imply a level-headedness and capability that would be welcomed in schools.

    I feel the same way about Stewardesses and Pilots, by the way.

  20. Personally, I think you’re actually better off with it NOT required. If it’s a requirement, then the first one to get shot in any engagement is the teacher, leaving the students vulnerable. But if it’s random CCW, then the would-be shooter doesn’t know who can and can’t take him down, and, if he’s a headline seeker, might choose a different attack vector, or none at all.

  21. Actually, Jim, that’s not quite true. In Texas, threatening the use of deadly force is only permitted in the same circumstances as the actual use of deadly force.

  22. Let me clarify my position a bit:

    A teacher with access to a firearm but poorly trained in the use of the same is a danger to everyone. That should go without saying.

    However, if the teacher is well trained, he/she won’t even reach for the gun until ready to shoot. Firing a round in the classroom jeopardizes the lives of people in the surrounding classrooms, so to even reach for the gun is to incur the moral burden of taking the lives of people they can’t even see into account in their risk calculus.

    Hint: This is why firearms in the home are also a profoundly bad idea, particularly in densely populated urban settings. Even if you manage to deter or incapacitate the occasional robber, you don’t want in the process to become responsible for the death of a neighbor.

  23. >Hint: This is why firearms in the home are also a profoundly bad idea,

    No, this is why your home-defense weapon should be a shotgun or fire Glaser loads (as opposed, say, to a rifle firing FMJ), so it will have little or no chance of going through walls to pop a bystander. One of the things we know from comparative hot-burglary statistics is that firearms in the home are a damn good idea.

  24. >Personally, I think you’re actually better off
    >with it NOT required. If it’s a requirement,
    >then the first one to get shot in any engagement
    >is the teacher, leaving the students vulnerable.

    I think permitting OR requiring the teacher to carry makes your teacher-as-primary-target scenario equally likely.

    However, unless we’re talking about a one-room schoolhouse, then mandatory carry for all teachers means there would be many armed individuals in close proximity. If a perp shoots a teacher first, that redundancy means there will be other armed folks on-scene in a matter of seconds. This is less likely if not all teachers in the building are armed.

    It’s worth noting that a lot of these random massacres are conducted by someone who ultimately suicides, either self-inflicted or suicide-by-cop. They won’t be deterred by the possiblity (or even certainty) of armed resistance; that being the case, they need to simply be *stopped* by armed resistance as soon as they are identified as a threat, before they can do much damage. A rapid, hard-to-stop response – facilitated by having many armed teachers rather than just a few – seems well-suited to that goal.

  25. >However, if the teacher is well trained, he/she won’t even reach for the gun until ready to shoot.

    It is possible to hold a firearm without it immediately going wild and firing of its own will. Amazing, I know.

    I guess good teachers are morally responsible to be shot first.

  26. One question: What would the gun be used for?

    Crazy lunatics only, or all situations in which a physical fight is or is about to take place? I sense a potential here for overreaction, provided that the teachers aren’t specifically told only to use the gun against people who are brandishing guns/shooting people in school. And what about knives, brass knuckles, etc.?

    And if this violence took place in the halls, or in a gymnasium during a pep rally, say…chances are pretty high for the teacher hitting someone besides the target.

    Basically, what are the best parameters?

  27. >And if this violence took place in the halls, or in a gymnasium during a pep rally, say…chances are pretty high for the teacher hitting someone besides the target.

    Basically, what are the best parameters?

    One way to cut down on school violence would be to get rid of compulsory attendance. Most of the troublemakers would be elsewhere.

  28. Matt: I suppose training of the kind Eric had in mind would also teach when to actually use the gun, and also exclude from the job the fucking idiots who would open fire in, say, the middle of a moving crowd. I’m not sure it would work, but that’s the feeling I get from what I’ve read in this blog and his archive.

    Me, I’d prefer teachers actually being taught how to teach properly, how to handle themselves in the classroom, how to get respect from their students. To the extent that those things can be taught. For the extremely rare cases of a nutjob attacking a campus, I’d rather have better trained security people, and also better counseling. Oh, and something that stopped or deterred nutcases from buying heavy rifles.

  29. > I want a clear sign that the teachers have the same priorities I would — a willingness to kill or if necessary die before allowing the kids to be harmed.

    Why would a teacher be willing to die for a bunch of kids who aren’t his/her own ?

  30. >Why would a teacher be willing to die for a bunch of kids who aren’t his/her own?

    For the same reasons a cop/firefighter/secret service agent/soldier does so. Admittedly some of those folks are in it for the adrenaline or the money, but many others are motivated to risk/sacrifice their lives out of love for something greater than themselves. As was mentioned earlier, Professor Librescu was such a man; he could have been among the first out the window, but instead risked/sacrificed his life to facilitate the escape of nearly all of his students – a profoundly selfless act that would likely not have been necessary if the school staff had been armed.

  31. > but many others are motivated to risk/sacrifice their lives out of love for something greater than themselves. As was mentioned earlier, Professor Librescu was such a man; he…

    I doubt there are many.

    Many, if not most, soldiers sign up with the army because they are physically fit but unemployed. This is possibly true of police staff as well.

    Reasons for seemingly selfless acts are likely to be the most selfish of all; This Professor Librescu – I don’t know him – probably did not want to live with the self-image of a coward. This level of selfishness can only arise out of a character of uncommon depth.

    And uncommon depth is – to score a pun – hardly common; certainly not common enough to think that all teachers will behave ‘selflessly’.

  32. Lots of silly positions in this string, the arming of teachers would require training: since the Colleges don’t seem to offer weapons training, moral life taking ethics, and situational awareness I would think they couldn’t do the job. So someone else would have to. People join the military for many reasons and the only one that counts is to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic – you do read the Constitution, the one where the 2nd Admendment prohibits the government from infringing on the rights of people to keep and bear arms, which makes the whole conversation about guns on school grounds not to important. Anyway, most days in most schools across the world no one attacks children – except the nut cases – and there aren’t that many of them. I would think the number of staff having sexual relations with their charges is much higher, but better hidden.

  33. Eric: strictly, the hot burglary stats show that it’s a good idea to live in an area where other people have weapons at home :-)

    Adriano: good to see you back – I was wondering if you’d show up :-)

  34. Miles: thanks. I’m not currently at my best, so I try to refrain from ‘posting from the hip’, it’s a road that leads to flaming. Banning ensues.

    I really wonder how the “weapons at home” stat works when living in a metropolis. Thieves wouldn’t be deterred by the fact, because it’s much harder to know before the fact. q On the other hand, I suppose living in apartments makes it harder to break-and-enter (2 doors to pass now, surveillance or at least a concierge…). Still, that hasn’t stopped thieves here.
    This is, if I understand the “burglary” correctly as “breaking and entering”.

  35. > No, this is why your home-defense weapon should be a shotgun or fire Glaser loads (as opposed, say, to a rifle firing FMJ), so it will have little or no chance of going through walls to pop a bystander.

    Sounds like you haven’t seen The Box O’ Truth. Their testing indicates that any shotgun load that’s enough to stop an intruder will also penetrate multiple walls.

  36. >I doubt there are many.
    >
    >Many, if not most, soldiers sign up with the army because
    >they are physically fit but unemployed. This is possibly
    >true of police staff as well.
    >
    >Reasons for seemingly selfless acts are likely to be the most selfish of all…

    Actually, that’s fine too. Fear of shame, love of money, love of children, whatever. In retrospect, their personal motivation isn’t particularly relevant, as long as the outcome is the same, i.e. a vigorous armed defense of those in their custody.

  37. Consider the set of people in a room who will condemn a particular case of robbery, and the set of people in that room who will condemn any case of robbery. Those sets may be identical today; tomorrow, reveal new information about the case, and the sets suddenly differ. Why?

    I think soldiers’ personal motivation is quite relevant, as it reveals how they will act in future situations. Same for teachers. I do understand accepting some things for expediency, but when we have the luxury of the long run to think about, my interest in motivations grows. I think I’d prefer teachers who’ll take their children’s intellectual growth as first priority, and who also grasp its implication of some physical well-being supporting it.

    That said, if they do this in order to increase the probability that they’ll enjoy their own quality of life derived from a well-educated society, I find that quite fine! After all, isn’t that what enlightened self-interest is supposed to cause?

  38. > Thomas Says:
    >August 16th, 2008 at 1:32 pm
    >
    >There are many parents who don’t meet your paladin-like standard of commitment that teachers should have. Should the state take it upon >itself to ensure that they are not allowed to raise children?

    Then you get China’s one-child policy, where parenting is governed at gunpoint. There is only one – and only ever will be one – correct and fair method of fixing this. STOP ENCOURAGING such people to raise children with the hard-earned taxes of workers. If their monthly welfare handout isn’t enough to buy whiskey, cigarettes, AND raise children, then they’re going to have to make a choice.

    Jason

  39. I wouldn’t want my kids in a classroom that contained a gun. In the USA less than ten students per year die in violent attacks in schools, less than five if you only count grade school and high school (i.e. no college). Meanwhile, there are about 800 deaths per year from firearm accidents, and I bet you a lot of those are brought about by kids.

    I’m sure you will all say that this couldn’t happen if you were handling the gun in a responsible fashion, but that’s extremely optimistic.

    Kids can climb all over you, get in your desk when you turn your back, pick at your holster, etc. and they are just *fascinated* with guns. Every class will have at least one who is determined to get hold of the gun to play with, by any possible means. You have to consider schoolkids as being hostile to responsible gun handling, on a 24/7 basis. A classroom has to be the number one worst place for successfully keeping a loaded gun away from kids.

    I hate when people say this, and I hate to be ‘that guy’, but it’s obvious a lot of commenters here don’t have any kids of their own. Most adults can’t do anything about it when they have two children and one of them wants to press every button in the elevator. Now imagine you’re locked in a room for eight hours with twenty or thirty of them, and you’re trying to stop them from getting at your holster.

    All this to eliminate a mortality risk which is several orders of magnitude less than their chance of getting hit by a car on the way to school.

  40. In my opinion – teachers should not be responsible for protecting children at any cost. Requiring them to be like that would mean that people who would like to teach, and would be very good at teaching (i. e. imparting knowledge to students who have a minimum willingness to learn), but don’t care to risk their lives would not be able to teach. As a student, I’d rather have a teacher who knows the material, and knows how to teach, but values his/her life more than mine, than the opposite, because I’d expect the skill to teach to be required a lot more often.

  41. “I’m sure you will all say that this couldn’t happen if you were handling the gun in a responsible fashion, but that’s extremely optimistic. “

    Handling the gun in a responsible fashion would be a realistic expectation. Not optimistic.

    “Kids can climb all over you, get in your desk when you turn your back, pick at your holster, etc. and they are just *fascinated* with guns. Every class will have at least one who is determined to get hold of the gun to play with, by any possible means. “

    Right. Which is why all those “School Safety Officers” have so many kids taking their openly-holstered weapons out on a regular basis.

    “Climb all over you?” In what school in the US today? None I’m aware of.

    And all of these before you get to the 800 “firearms accident deaths” (I’d like to know where’s the reference before I question it further). How many of these were from taking *guns from holsters* and “playing with them?”

    “Now imagine you’re locked in a room for eight hours with twenty or thirty of them, and you’re trying to stop them from getting at your holster.”

    They’re not zombies.

    Nor, under this example where *some* teachers are armed, *will they know which teachers have the guns*.

    Even if they did, the vast majority of schools are now “equipped” with – mostly armed! – “Safety Officers”. And have been for years now. Nothing you project as an obvious, immediate issue has yet occurred.

  42. > This is why firearms in the home are also a profoundly bad idea, particularly in densely populated urban settings. Even if you manage to deter or incapacitate the occasional robber, you don’t want in the process to become responsible for the death of a neighbor.

    The above significantly overstates the risk. Cities have a much higher density of stuff to people than one might think. Outside of a few fairly well-understood situations, “stray” rounds are very unlikely to hit someone else.

    How do I know? Because that’s the result from police shootings. And, police are at a significant disadvantage to “the rest of us” – they’re almost always coming into a hot situation; they have much less evaluation time and information. Victims have no problems with perp-id and bystanders often have been able to observe.

    Of course, you’re free to argue that the risk from armed civilians is still too high. If you do, you get to explain why the higher risk from police is acceptable, especially since the benefit is less. (Unarmed police provide much of the benefit of armed police.)

    FWIW, the first gun control laws in NYC disarmed police. They were thrown out by a judge who ruled that police wouldn’t obey.

  43. What is “rapid-reaction tactical shooting” and how does it work?

    thanks

  44. “Right. Which is why all those “School Safety Officers” have so many kids taking their openly-holstered weapons out on a regular basis.”

    Look, I never went to a school with an armed guard, but:

    1) I assume that the armed guard isn’t spending 8 hours a day (or even 8 minutes) alone with the kids in the classroom.

    2) If my first assumption is wrong, then why on earth would the teacher also need to be armed?

    “Handling the gun in a responsible fashion would be a realistic expectation. Not optimistic.”

    I meant it is optimistic to expect that responsible weapon handling is sufficient protection in this case. Anyone can handle their weapon responsibly – the question is whether this is sufficient to reduce the risk of accidental firing to acceptable levels, in a hostile environment. Remember, this is an environment where:

    1) The risk of an attack by a student or random psycho is vanishingly close to zero,

    2) The acceptable level of risk of accidental weapons firing is vanishingly close to zero,

    3) The acceptable level of risk from a student firing the teacher’s gun *deliberately* is vanishingly close to zero,

    4) Best case scenario, the risk of a kid getting hold of the teacher’s gun is low, but quite far from zero.

  45. The School Resource Officer at my high school didn’t spend much time in the classroom AFAIK, but he would spend lunchtime out of his office in the lunchroom or courtyard where everyone ate, talking to students or just watching for trouble. His sidearm was plain for all to see, and I don’t think anybody was dumb enough to ever reach for it. So that’s at least an an hour a day, alone, in a very people-dense environment, open carrying (I assume with some sort of retention holster). An SRO’s job isn’t so much as an armed guard as it is a last resort for dealing with unruly students, although he is also a police liaison to the school.

    I think we need to distinguish elementary schools from high schools in this discussion. In elementary schools, children aren’t part of the threat but must be protected. In high schools, students are part of the potential threat. Elementary school is also where your mauling zombie children might appear.

    In either case, I don’t see why you think concealing a weapon would be particularly hard. I don’t remember an incredible amount of physical contact with my teachers in kindergarten, and it only went down from there.

  46. One thing I’ll point out, Eric, is that at the moment, you do not have children.

    Having children rewires your brain in a lot of ways – I have gone through two different “peer groups” doing the mass spawn in the last 15 years.

    Trusting other people with *your* children gets more difficult. Yes, there are sitcom riffs about overprotective parents afraid to send their kid to a daycare center without a hazmat suit. There are riffs about parents who are so terrified of what the world can do to their kids that they don’t let them play outside.

    And the “armed society is a polite society” meme gets chucked out the airlock at near relativistic velocities when the possibility that it’s *their* kid that might get killed by a firearms accident is considered.

    I know of four couples (at least) who went from having a gun in the house to NOT having a gun in the house after their children became toddlers. It doesn’t matter how much statistical evidence you put before them – that their family is safer with the gun than without it (depending on neighborhood and local demographics, this is generally true). What locks on their brain is the “firearms are dangerous tools. Little Johnny has figured out opposable thumbs. I can’t watch him all the time, and when I don’t watch him, he gets into things he shouldn’t.” Combine that logic train with the “A gun is seven times likelier to be used in a firearms related accident than against an intruder” meme, and you can pretty much shut down the logic centers on a parent on this subject.

    Now, extend that to “Little Johnny’s kindergarten teacher might be packing heat…” and you’ll get vehement and violent protest at the student teacher meetings.

    If you presume that being a parent changes your priority list, and dramatically increases anything remotely resembling risk aversion when it can be contemplated as impacting your child, you’ll see why your solution will never happen.

  47. Bennett:

    the question is whether this is sufficient to reduce the risk of accidental firing to acceptable levels, in a hostile environment

    You can’t use “acceptable” in your scenario – your postulated examples have no basis in the real world.
    Kids don’t climb on teachers and single-mindedly chase and pull down like zombies in Dawn of the Dead.. “Gunnnnnsss… GUUUUUNSSSSS!”
    (Even assuming they knew where the gun was, who had it, and where it was.)
    I’ve been around many guns, while kids were nearby, and they didn’t behave in any way the way you’re postulation is formed.

    2) If my first assumption is wrong, then why on earth would the teacher also need to be armed?

    Because the Security Officer can’t be everywhere. If we put a armed guard in every classroom, we might as well let them teach the class. (Getting back to the original point here, notice?)

    I meant it is optimistic to expect that responsible weapon handling is sufficient protection in this case.

    How many accidental discharges, or negligent discharges have you ever had? Where did they occur? (Full disclosure: Myself: 1, AD, hunting in heavy brush, deactivated the safety, and pushing through brush, a branch caught the trigger. No damage. Almost all the other AD’s I’m aware of were loading/unloading weapons. Not something that would happen in a classroom.)

    1) The risk of an attack by a student or random psycho is vanishingly close to zero,
    But most importantly, it is not zero.
    2) The acceptable level of risk of accidental weapons firing is vanishingly close to zero,
    The risk may well be close to zero.
    3) The acceptable level of risk from a student firing the teacher’s gun *deliberately* is vanishingly close to zero,
    There’s no point when it should happen, barring ignorant, stupid, and felonious behavior.
    4) Best case scenario, the risk of a kid getting hold of the teacher’s gun is low, but quite far from zero.
    Wait, why “quite far”? Based upon what?

    Furthermore, you state that the risks are “near zero”. Despite the actual proof and examples that demonstrate it’s not just not zero, but a possibility that has happened in the past, and will very likely in the future.
    Yet you dismiss the ability of staff and teachers (save the “Only Ones”) to carry weapons – because of a “quite far from zero risk” that’s not ever happened.
    ….
    So the reality of the situation aside, in your mind, it’s better to worry about something that’s yet to happen, rather than to attempt to deal with situations that have already occurred multiple times.

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