Chalk dust and apples to weaponry?

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,

  1. Jake February 26, 2018 7:09 am Reply

    Good diatribe on the latest mass shooting at a US School. Make it personal, and somehow that defines good writing and journalism.

    No critical thinking about a potential solution….just “speak out”, “demonstrate”, “rethink mental health”. Fear the gun!

    Until it becomes prohibitive and unacceptable to commit a crime with a gun (maybe we set up a Gulag in Alaska to prevent gun violence), ….we mitigate the problem via training and arming certain teachers?? Much like US Marshals on USA Commercial Flights (you know they are on board and armed, but not sure where they are).

  2. Manawai February 26, 2018 7:35 am Reply

    It’s easy to sit back and pontificate when you’ve got nothing to loose. My question is, would the three teachers who lost their lives attempting to protect their students…would they have preferred to be armed with a weapon rather than to face a maniacal killer defenseless? Kawahara would prefer them to die like martyrs so Kawahara could later from the comfort of her couch call them heroes. Dead heroes. I’d rather give teachers the option to protect their students and themselves.

  3. gordon oswald February 26, 2018 8:11 am Reply

    So what’s your little snowflake problem? The world is getting more and more corrupt and dangerous for everyone. INCLUDING TEACHERS! You act like training to use a weapon for your self defense is so out of touch, but it’s you who are “out of touch”! Arm every law abiding American who wants to protect themselves and train them how to use the weapon under pressure. You want to stop mass shootings and idiot criminals with guns? That is the only way! 911 won’t work! Relying on others is ridiculous. Time to grow up and begin looking at reality! Starting with you!

  4. RG DeSoto February 26, 2018 9:33 am Reply

    “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. ”
    Sorry Dawn what you’ve written is utter nonsense. Would you prefer that, as happens now, the teachers and students are, for lack of a better term, sitting ducks?
    More laws? We’ve completely banned drugs…has that worked? I noticed that you’ve not once called to task the FBI, Police or Parkland school officials who all had ample warning that this despicable kid, Cruz, was a boiling cauldron who actually said he wanted to be a professional mass shooter. There is recorded proof that the FBI ignored the very specific information that a woman called in to report.
    This is not about the gun, it’s about the failure of government, an abandonment of morality and a kid who is just plain evil. Have you ever stopped to think of why this sort of thing only happens in public schools? Do you know that virtually every mass shooter had been prescribed psychotropic drugs, which have homicidal/suicidal thoughts listed as side effects? No, instead you like so many blame the inanimate object. You should be ashamed of yourself for drinking that cool-aide.
    Arming well trained teachers is a perfectly logical solution that would give themselves and their students a fighting chance when faced with a deranged killer.
    RG DeSoto

  5. Steve Martin February 26, 2018 1:22 pm Reply

    A great answer is the cartoon in today’s paper. The way you stop these maniacs is they can only get on school property by going through a detector and if they are carrying the gate locks them into a secured space until police arrive. I had an old friend tell me about 15 years ago it took place at our high school with a student carrying a gun, and since they installed a detection system they have never had anyone try to get on campus with a weapon. If we can create TSA for airports then we can afford to secure our schools properties nation wide.

  6. Just Saying February 26, 2018 1:56 pm Reply

    The ridiculous debate, started in the White House, over arming teachers, is nothing more than a strategic distraction to take the discussion away from tangible change such as restoring the ban on military assault weapons.
    The CDC and ATF, cannot even study, or commission studies, as to why we, alone in the world, have this mass shooting problem thanks to NRA backed legislation.
    In the mean time, we have more strategic distractions such as as blaming mental health or drugs as the culprits despite the fact that all the other countries without mass shootings also have the same mental health and drug dilemmas. What they don’t have is quite clear: They don’t have private stockpiles of weapons and they don’t have 5 million slobbering cretins supporting an extremist organization called the NRA!

    1. Manawai February 27, 2018 7:54 am Reply

      It’s not the NRA! It’s the millions and millions of Americans who do not buy into your snowflake mentality that demands the destruction of so-called “assault weapons”. Don’t you remember (guess not) that no one can even describe what an assault weapon is unless it includes all semi-auto hunting rifles? These incidents are a result of the society YOU’VE fostered with hippie free love beliefs including illegitimate births, single parent households, easy to get drugs coming in from across the boarder and now even grown or manufactured here! School shootings are the result of a culture that is YOUR fault!

      1. Just Saying February 27, 2018 2:11 pm Reply

        We don’t really care that slobbering cretins of the NRA think “snowflake” is somehow the ultimate put-down. We don’t really care that Manawai harbors a 45 year old grudge that hippies got to have all the fun while he was buttoning the uptight top button on his shirt. We don’t really care about the games played with weapon definitions. We don’t really care that Manawai thinks there is injustice or unconstitutionality in a weapon ban. What we do care about is reaching a tipping point vs the slobbering cretins of the NRA. That point seems very close now. Manawai better hope a moderate tipping point is close because if it’s delayed for several more years of mass shooting, confiscation will be the least of his nightmares come true!

  7. andy February 26, 2018 11:30 pm Reply

    Gordon and RG should get married!

  8. rk669 February 27, 2018 1:55 am Reply

    Gun Free Zones,are a criminals Paradise! Wise Up snowflakes?

  9. Jeff Charles February 27, 2018 11:10 am Reply

    The writer seems unaware that about 15 states still do a lot of paddling at all grade levels — including Florida. 90% of paddling takes place in 9 of the ten former Confederate states. (Virginia does not paddled). Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama do the most by percentage. Paddling has not prevented school shootings in any state, and in fact in early years as this trend started there were so many school shootings in paddling states and even among recently paddled students that Southern papers were starting to restrict such information from stories as they were worried “Southern Culture” was being blamed. The FBI did a study and found that “harsh discipline” was often a precurser to a school shooting – which includes paddling and expulsion. The most recent case the shooter had been expelled. If paddling were a cure there would be no shootings in paddling states instead of the many that exist now – and countries that have banned child hitting would have more shootings that us rather than practically zero. Violence begets violence and the US is a leader in both child hitting and school shootings in the western world.

  10. Suzan Kelsey Brooks February 27, 2018 4:41 pm Reply

    It might be helpful for all concerned to do some research. Bystanders killed in crossfire. Soldiers killed by “friendly fire”. Secret Service protection of Reagan and Kennedy. The estimated accuracy of trained law enforcement in shooting events. Legal gun owners who kill their families, on purpose or by accident. Any solution or attempt at solution will have to be examined in the cold light of facts and history, and not just in the hope of ideal performance by ideal individuals in ideal situations with ideal outcomes. It might also be helpful to get some estimate of the cost of 1) buying guns for staff; 2) training teachers/staff; and 3) providing liability insurance for staff of tens of thousands of schools. Simple solutions never are…simple.

  11. Bryan H. Bishop February 27, 2018 7:40 pm Reply

    You do not know what country you are in! You do not know the history and intent nor understanding of it’s creators. So called, “assault weapons” are not only justified but essential to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. Our Founding Father’s were deeply concerned about the tendency of people in power to consolidate that power and be corrupted by power and then abuse the people whom they govern. They saw an historical pattern of this kind of abuse and experienced it themselves at the hands of King George III of England. Our country, and it’s government, was formed with intent to prevent this kind of corruption and abuse of it’s people by the separation of powers and by giving the people the means to fight against such a government that would dare to try to abuse the people if it ever could embodied in the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is the fourth separation of power that is held by the people (US Citizens) of the United States. The intent is clear and it is to insure that the people of the United States have the means to put down all abusers whether they are foreign or domestic in nature. Our Founding Fathers knew that no government can be trusted to do good and they made as sure as they could that it was never to be the master of it’s people in the United States. That is why the “assault weapon” is essential. I would even say that it really means whatever weapon is the current basic issue of our Armed Forces. The M4/M16 in all of it’s full-automatic glory! Government corruption and abuse of it’s people by such government is far more important than mere criminal behavior of a few individuals. Don’t give up your rights for a false sense of security. Providing security to our schools that is actually security is far too long in the coming. We put guards with guns on everything that is of value in Hawaii: Banks and Airports are just two examples. We do this because we are concerned of threats that mean serious harm. Why not schools? People can be trusted with guns. Not just police and government agents! Training and procedure isn’t hard. You worry too much and I believe you need to wake up from the fantasy. Make sure our kids are no sheep for the slaughter. Give the teachers the means to defend themselves if such a thing ever becomes necessary. Stop trying to disarm the people and take away their only defense against tyrants just because you have misplaced moral sensitivity issues about firearms…

  12. Just Saying February 28, 2018 3:03 pm Reply

    Well there you have it! You’ve all just been slobbered on!

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