What? Teachers are to have guns? Teachers are to be trained to shoot? My mouth hangs agape at the idea.
Shades of dumb and dumber. The shocking school massacre in Florida and events that have followed are showing us that this is not just a storm in a teapot — at least, it should not be allowed to become that, once again. It’s the hope of this writer that many people will agree that what’s needed now is not just prayers and love going toward the families of the victims and all who are suffering the trauma of but one more of these terrible events, but about concentrated involvement and action. A grassroots approach can work, as our presidential campaign 2016 demonstrated.
Leaders whom we elected and trusted with the task of making decisions in our best interests have gone, to my way of thinking, from the slow-witted and ridiculous to stupid and stupidest, harebrained to insane, asinine to truly mad. Or beyond — moronic (if not demonic). Not long ago corporal punishment by a teacher became a capital A Abuse. Paddles were outlawed, warnings received about reaching for the “hickory stick” of the “School Days” song. But now …
Imagine this: Dick and Jane catch sight of the teacher wrapping her/his gun to stow it safely in a desk drawer? How about your own teachers? Would you have wanted to see the bulge of a weapon on their person, see a bodyguard standing before the chalkboard, instead of someone to be respected and help you by giving you tools to whet and hone in on your talents and skills to equip you for life? (Or even a youth attending school with little or no interest, someone unaware that “knowledge is power” to help them succeed in the adult life?)
I immediately think of Mother Christine, an Irish nun teaching my kindergarten way back when, with a gun slipped into the pocket of her habit — no way. The same for the pocket of my mum’s dress when, as a trained teacher, she took on the responsibility of schooling my sister and me when schools were closed due to the war. My Australian second-grade teacher would have blanched if someone had placed a firearm in her delicate, manicured hands. The same for baseball-loving Miss Hines from Ohio (fifth-grade); kind, young Mr. Hubbs (sixth and seventh), although he occasionally administered a well-placed “bonk” with his hand on out-of-line students (who had it coming, I might add); Mr. Kovack, my heart-throb shorthand teacher; and my chic and snappy high school journalism teacher “CDB,” as we affectionately called her. Guns for them? Unthinkable.
On the personal level, what’s interesting — as in “good” memoirs and fictional plots — the subjects dwelled upon often transcend the personal and become universal. This is one of those times, I believe. At the risk of being reprimanded for making a sweeping statement, we of an older generation (for the most part) all felt safe when we left home daily for school (discounting unforeseen accidents, reprimands and demerits, and bullies and occasional playground fights and hair-pullings). The same goes for my grown-up children, but not for my grandchildren.
As the mother of my Colorado grandsons said a few days ago when we conversed on the phone about the Parkland tragedy, her boys already had lost so much of the freedom that she and her brothers enjoyed as kids. They weren’t able to roam and ramble freely as they grew up, getting “lost” for some hours with friends or in exploration, as her generation (and mine) had. Instead, they were tethered by their cell phones to check in and report their whereabouts. Their play outdoors was often via organized sports, supervised of course (with waivers as protection from lawsuits for the organizers).
In Colorado, the shadow of the Columbine school shooting still hangs dark and unforgotten for not only my grandsons. That’s now been multiplied by the number of other school — and other — tragic shootings from one end of the country to the other, the latest, of course, shockingly transpiring on Valentine’s Day.
While we talked, I realized that the attempt to be safer, we’ve become more unsafe. This, to me, translates to the case in question: arming teachers with guns. Next, teaching them to shoot to kill —unthinkable.
My peace-loving, retired teacher husband reacted to the latest news announcements in a way that surprised me: “No handgun is going to do it,” he told me this morning. “Only an assault rifle.” The hard line of his mouth underlined the wryness of his comments.
I could never picture him interacting with students in his old biology classroom while wearing an assault rifle (bigger/”better” than the Sten-gun my Dad wore in dangerous times in Mandalay after WWII). A ridiculous image of the Wookiee warrior Chewbacca rose to mind. Then the smile froze, the laugh choked.
I came to write this, to beg you, Dear Readers, to get involved to help those young Parklanders who are now demonstrating to have new laws passed not only to prevent assault-type weapons from getting into the hands of private citizens, but to re-think our mental health system and get to the source of the problems we face.
Can you imagine what it must be like to get ready to go off and be a “good girl” (or boy) at that school now? At any U.S. school? For parents? For a teacher, principal or other employee? A guard? It’s my fervent hope that we now join with the young people who are speaking out for reform, continuing to protest and work toward change within our systems. Beyond gun control, there is much to be done (understatement!) — right here on Kauai.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, resident author and poet, has focused her supportive interests within the Kauai community since the early 1980s. Now at work completing her second memoir, based on the Burma of pre- and post-World War II times, she also plans to publish in 2018 a compilation of her contributed “Green Flash” columns under her publishing colophon, Kauai’s TropicBird Press, firstname.lastname@example.org.