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First let me say that I am heartsick over this tragedy.  When my principal came to me and told me there was a breaking story about an elementary school shooting I was stunned—this is not the kind of thing one gets used to. When I heard it was a kindergarten classroom involving as many as twenty children dead, I was literally heartsick. I hurt. If anyone doubts the existence of evil in the world this was pretty solid evidence. Like every school in America these events cause us to take stock in our policies and procedures: If it happened on my watch should we hunker down in the classroom or should we take our students and flee as fast and far as we could? How do we further restrict access to the building? How much will we be talking about this with students on Monday? What’s appropriate, what’s needed, what’s too much? These are discussions that will be taking place this next week all over the country in schools both public and private. There are many conclusions and many answers, depending on the particular school and their particular circumstances. But one thing I am sure of: arming the adults at the school is a very, very bad idea.

The first parent I saw on Friday at the end of the day confronted me right in front of our library as kids were heading out to their buses. He said, “After today’s shooting, I have two words for you,” and he gave me the first and last name of a high school boy at my school. I’d been speechless all afternoon and I was beginning to feel comfortable in having little or nothing to say. But not this time. Yes, the boy he mentioned has had difficulties at our school over the last 7 or 8 years, struggling through his parents’ nasty divorce, living with a mother who works for minimum wages at the Wal-Mart so he doesn’t have the same “toys” as all his peers (sounds cliché but it’s true). He is socially awkward and he sometimes is annoying to teachers. But violent he is not. And he has come light years from his first days at our school, in large part because the administration has fought the adults who want him isolated, even expelled, just because they see him as “weird”.  The parent was completely surprised when I told him that what he just said was awful and that I don’t want that repeated where anyone can hear it. He ignored my pleas and continued right on so I ushered him into the library where there weren’t any kids.

He started right in with, “If I had been here with a gun, the first thing I’d have done was blow his fucking head off!” This coming from a recent retiree from the Army. 24 years of service with multiple tours in Iraq I, Iraq II and as a contractor in Afghanistan. He is from the warrior class. No doubt. And his first thought would have been to shoot...the boy he just named.  That his first thought was to shoot anybody at all is bad enough, but to already have a kid in mind is exactly what many who want to carry guns would do.

And there is the problem. Guns kill people, and bad human judgment helps that immensely. Forget the cute slogans. Forget the NRA propaganda that absolves them from all responsibility. Guns kill people. And they don’t often kill the “right” people. These are facts we know. These are facts that are in the news every day. Every day!  I don’t think I have to cite the research on all of that in this post. We know that countries with easy access to small arms are more violent. We know that thousands of deaths each year in America are attributable to guns—both intentional and accidental. We know that in the absence of 20, 30, 40 round magazines it would be much more difficult for those who are determined to do their worst to do what they intend to do. But today, I am more concerned with the notion that more guns in the hands of more people somehow makes the country safer.

You see, the parent I was speaking with had worked for the school for a short time. After his military retirement we hired him on as a part-time bus driver. After two weeks of the occasional stopping the bus and ripping into students—literally terrorizing the youngest ones—we had to let him go. He made horrible decisions about who to discipline and who to ignore. He screamed at kids who had their feet in the aisle. He stopped the bus and berated kids who talked too loud. The man who cannot make good decisions about who to discipline on a bus route is NOT the guy I want coming into my building, armed to the teeth, looking for the bad guys. I fear there would be a lot of student and staff collateral damage (to use the military lingo) in that scenario. So, give me all the arguments you want against gun restrictions and the second amendment and “armed citizens are safe citizens” bologna, my best response is that if we arm everyone, even more crazy people will have guns.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Even if sane, responsible people have guns (17+ / 0-)

    it isn't that easy to use a gun effectively in a fire fight. Police officers and soldiers go through extensive training to learn how to do this. Even then many of them never get it.

    Guns also need regular maintenance and upkeep. Ammo goes bad and needs to be replaced. If we gave all the teachers loaded guns within a few years most of them wouldn't work properly.

    I can think of lots of better ways for our teachers to be spending their time. This is a wing nut fantasy.

  •  we cannot have a society where (6+ / 0-)

    everyone has a one commenter quipped in another thread, why don't we tailor the size of a gun to fit a kindergartner, just like we do violins...we all know, here at dkos anyway, that the issue is mental illness, and I think, lack of supervision.  Good parenting happens when parents talk with their kids about violence and despicable acts such as this; they give their kids time and attention and respect.  They don't hand them over to an industry that is only interested in making a buck.

    I am also a teacher, and wondered the same thing.  Do I throw the kids out the window and telling them to meet me in the woods at X?  We have a lock-down procedure, but this event makes it so clear, lock-down is too late.

    We all know that to have a gun means you have to be OK with killing someone with it, and without that conviction, it may get wrestled from you and used against you.  In this case, the mother/gun enthusiast was murdered first, her guns taken and used against the innocent.  It just doesnt' seem to end...we absolutely must address the issues of mental health among our young and young adults.  Period.

    •  "mental health is the problem" is a red herring (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher, crankypatriot, Tonedevil, Loge

      I agree with most of what you said, but guns, not psychological issues caused the extreme violence and death seen in CT and other shootings. This is a red herring used to derail arguments about gun control. All of the evidence says: guns kill, more guns kill more people, and restricting guns reduces death, regardless of the cause of the attacks.

      The best way to illustrate this is by comparing CT with the attack on a school in China, on the same day, by a deranged knife wielding assailant. In that case, 22 people were injured and none killed. That's the bottom line difference between easy access to guns and strict gun control.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:19:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you quill (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but I disagree with you on the first point.  It is no red herring.  I am sure mental health, or lack of it, is not the only reason, but for me, it is no red herring.

        As for gun control, I agree with you completely.  I do not own a gun; they scare the shit out of me and I don't want one in my house.  That said, I live in a rural area, and all my neighbors have them, plenty of them.  I would like to see an assault weapons ban pass, military and police grade weapons ban pass, and even a sem-assault weapons ban pass.  We all know what they are used for and it ain't bringing down a moose.

      •  No contradiction (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CTMET, quill, Oh Mary Oh

        It's entirely possible to tackle both problems.

        We do want to prevent things like the Osaka massacre (

  •  Thanks very much (6+ / 0-)

    for sharing this.  And thanks for standing up for, and supporting, one of your neediest students.  I often think that just caring, and making a connection with these young people can make the difference- and prevent future acts borne out of desperation.

  •  A little while back (6+ / 0-)

    the LAPD fired between 90-120 shots at a fleeing man on the freeway. They hit him 12 times. These are trained people who missed with about 90% of their shots.

    The lst thing I want is some right wing moron shouting "WOLVERINE!" and opening fire in a mall to stop a mass murderer. We don't need people caught in a cross fire.

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:43:27 AM PST

    •  Anyone who wants a quick preview (0+ / 0-)

      of what the world would look like if gun-carrying becomes common, can look at this Xbox 360 ad.  I didn't embed it, because I think it's likely that there are also people who will have no desire to see it, either.

      It's not a very good commercial as such, but as a preview I think it's accurate.

      Youtube video here.

  •  Not 'evil', random chance. Calling it evil minim (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    izes the odds of it happening to you or someone you know and creates a false sense of solution.  Just as you say: if 'evil' is the cause, some will see killing 'evil' people as a solution.

    Its not.

    BC its not evil.  Its just otherwise average people + statistically predictable mental brake downs + guns made ever more efficient at mass killing.  

    We can address the second to a degree, but we can not catch all, or likely even most of the folks who are both mentally ill and likely dangerous in the future.  The former is difficult, the latter impossible, given the present state of psychology.  We should try, yes. Perhaps mandatory mental screening with a refutable presumption against allowing those who 'fail' to have a gun.  Not that it would be remotely likely politically.  And labeling a entire class of persons as 'mentally unbalanced and dangerous' would create such a nightmare of prejudice and irrational discrimination that maybe we wouldn't want to let that genie out the bottle.

    But we can do something about the last - minimizing the killing efficiency of the guns average folks can buy.

    It maybe the only rational thing we can do to limit the cost of random chance working through a highly armed populace at the mercy of those who fetishize the gun.

    But, if we at least stop giving them the easy out of calling it ‘evil’, of limiting the problem to the illusion of a discrete group and the lazy notion that all will be well if we but crush the ‘right’ people, maybe we will begin to do what we can to limit the carnage.

  •  Wacked out gun toting ' stand your grounder's. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    talktothemike, crankypatriot

    Hell yeah! Those are who we need to hire to protect our kids at school and mall's. I am thinking this gun issue can't be solved. Yes it is possible, but it won't happen. Gun ownership and regulated militia are above the law.

    So, give me all the arguments you want against gun restrictions and the second amendment and “armed citizens are safe citizens” bologna, my best response is that if we arm everyone, even more crazy people will have guns.
    In the wake of CT too many ideas float and with so little actual thought for sound ideas we are again sunk. The righties see every idea as a plot of ' that black Kenyan Marxist' to take away all the guns. It's a bitch for sure.

    A danger foreseen is half avoided.

    by ncheyenne on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:52:36 AM PST

    •  fuck the wingnuts and gun worshipers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      talktothemike, crankypatriot

      We have a large majority that wants more gun regulation, including most gun owners. Waiting for the dead enders to come around is just an excuse for doing nothing, which is just what the NRA and many of our politicians want. Now is the time for action on this issue and I hope Obama and the Dems will stand up for once and do the right thing.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:35:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary (3+ / 0-)

    This story points to another problem, where I work we almost exclusively hire veterans at the moment, and the amount of what seems like untreated PTSD is mind boggling.

    •  PTSD Is Not Always Violent (0+ / 0-)

      As a vet with PTSD I have to constantly inform people that PTSD is not something that will lead to violence.  Much of the time it has results such as mine.  I start shaking, crying, barely able to walk and fall on the floor unable to function.  

      TheVA  has been working hard to help PTSD vets.  But, the Congress has been very stingy with support.

  •  our culture is the problem (7+ / 0-)

    not the preferred weapon of choice.  We live in a black and white world.  With everything a false dichotomy of opposites - from our politics to our soda choices - we live in a culture that pretends there are never any more choices than two - unless you are talking brand names - but even those are often illusion and come from the same company.

    Our cultural mythos is based on survival and violence.  The Puritans bravely struggling on - and killing the First Nations. Freedom to be so obnoxiously religious they were thrown out of Holland - think about that.  Because they weren't happy just being obnoxiously religious, they had to try and force other people to do it their way.

    The Wild West where "an armed society is a polite society" and Bonanza is somehow a documentary.  But most real people - particularly the ones who cling to these myths - are not the Cartwrights.  They don't live with the land or their neighbours, they live with fear as their closest companion.

    THEY will come take my __.  Guns, vaginas, (note I did not say women, or children) food, gold - fill in the blank.  Completely fear based reality that someone is trying to take from them.  That the world works based on possession and ownership and knowing your place.  Anyone not YOU is literally reduced to property or enemy.

    If you live in that mindset - the most important thing you have have other than gold and beans is bullets and things to shoot them with.  LOTS of them.  Because you feel like you have to be an "Army of One" - no one is as trustworthy or skilled or Right to protect your possessions - not even your own possessions that breathe and can theoretically operate guns.  You might train them, but you don't count on them.  Unless they are sons, everyone knows vaginas are neither reliable or trustworthy.  (Do you see what I did thar?  Do you see how easy that mindset is for American Christians of a certain stripe to push against women's anything when that is what lurks under the surface?)

    Remember the drama when guns were allowed into national parks for the first time?  Less than a month and some asshole had been arrested for shooting and killing a bear.  They claimed their life was in danger - the evidence showed they were not.  They just wanted to "face down" and kill a bear.  It was all about living a fantasy to that person - proving they are worthy of survival.

    Even the "solutions" we offer to people in society are black and white - The 12 Steps is an evangelical based self help maintenance program - NOT treatment - and we have woven it into our society.  Our celebs and politicians make tearful confessions in public to "the group" and consider themselves forgiven because they participated in the correct form, they didn't mean a word of it.  It's part of the prison system, the mental health system - and it too pushes the black and white model - if you fall off the wagon you WILL fall all the way down to your lowest.  You have permission to do whatever you want - you can't help yourself now, you stepped off the trail.  We give our sickest permission to act out anything they can think up, we've absolved them of self control or the need for it.  We set up an expectation of "Do your worst."  And Americans hate to disappoint when challenged.

    Until we put to bed all the lies we tell ourselves and the cultural approval of a fear based outlook - this is what we will get, no matter how many kind of guns we ban or courses we require.  Guns are a symptom.

    AMERICANS are the problem.

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:19:58 AM PST

    •  Well put. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mortifyd, boomerchick

      "an armed society is a polite society" and Bonanza is somehow a documentary.

      People do actually believe this, you know?

      •  I lived in AZ for ten years. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        HELL yes they believe it.  Not everyone, but enough to scare the shit out of thinking people.

        And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

        by Mortifyd on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:00:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They also think "High Plains Drifter" is a western (0+ / 0-)


        Life is the ultimate economic bubble; we cash out with all the capital we invested: none. On the other hand, the wise among us have enormous moral capital to easily invest in their children and their communities. Just remember where our real wealth is.

        by Superskepticalman on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:17:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Exceptionally good post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mortifyd, talktothemike

      Insightful diagnosis.

      I will quibble, because that's what I do.

      Our culture is a problem, likely the biggest problem, not the only problem. Faced with a pool of gasoline, air, and an ignition source, taking away even one of the three will prevent a fire.

      •  quibble away (0+ / 0-)

        You can't take away guns in the US.  They are in the mental psyche of the country too deep.  We can change the attitudes about them - and in the long run, that is what will help change the culture.

        You can't take away mental illness. We could do more, we could do better, but there will always be people who need more than we can do.  We can change attitudes that make people assume that "mentally ill" is a Cause as well.  It's not.

        So that leaves people.  We already have more prisoners per capita than anyone else, that feeds the cultural fear monster and continues to make slavery once again available in the US thanks to private prisons, who are paid by occupancy, not readiness.

        So... how about we start looking at our culture honestly, it is the 21st century after all...

        And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

        by Mortifyd on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 01:30:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  That blowhard Bill Bennett proposed the asinine (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    talktothemike, Tonedevil, Oh Mary Oh

    idea of an armed guard in every school on Meet the Press this morning.  Utter insanity.  It's scary to think that guy was able to come within 50 yards of public education in this country.

    Watch for this drumbeat, they'll want it to take hold: You can already feel the privateers plotting how they can make $$$$ putting an "armed guard" in every school.

    Excellent diary about the reality of the complicated dynamics and personalities in any given school--- and how a policy like this would be a complete and utter nightmare for all concerned.

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:44:01 AM PST

  •  Ummmm ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, talktothemike

    It sounds very much like the person you were talking with is  suffering from Post Traumatic Stress as a result of his service and deployments. I don't know if that part is being dealt with, but as the widow of someone who had untreated Post Traumatic Stress, I thought I would mention it.

    You are absolutely right about the substance of the diary.


    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:00:06 PM PST

    •  I would guess that most everyone who read this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, Chacounne, Calamity Jean

      figured out that the man is likely suffering with PTSD as are many vets.  That doesn't change the fact the man wanted to kill a child based on the assumption that because he was "weird" he was "the bad kid."

      I lived my entire childhood with a man with PTSD.  I was a "weird kid" and he made my life a living hell because of it.  PTSD is not an excuse for wanting to murder an innocent child. Period.


      And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

      by Mortifyd on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:09:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I completely and totally agree with you, (0+ / 0-)

        I just wanted to make sure the vet's underlying issue was being taken care of, because it is better for everyone in his community if it is.

        It is completely unacceptable to kill or harm a child because they are "weird" or "bad".


        Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

        by Chacounne on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 02:24:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No guns for wackos (3+ / 0-)

    So, if you had had in place a strict law prohibiting people with mental problems from having guns—it would not have affected anything that happened in CT. As has been widely reported, the guns were not owned by Adam Lanza, but by his mother, Nancy.

    •  So arming people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      doesn't really hold much water as an argument in this case. The well-armed person got killed first.

      •  Sure, if (0+ / 0-)

        a single swallow made a summer and a single instance made for a good determinant of policy. Of course, for your comment to be relevant, Nancy Landes would have had to actually have been armed at the time of her shooting, not merely an owner of guns. But perhaps you've already researched that and can tell us?

        As has been pointed out elsewhere, with the exception of the Giffords shootings, all multiple shootings in the USA in recent memory have taken place in so-called gun-free zones. Maybe one solution is to get rid of such places.

        •  no (0+ / 0-)

          Perhaps the shooters chose these places because of their impact, and this is the same reason we make them gun free zones. To make the leap that these places were chosen because they are gun free zones without considering the alternatives is ridiculous.

          •  Ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

            You might have noticed the word "maybe" in my post. As you say, making leaps without consideration of alternatives would be ridiculous. So that means that you do not reject out of hand the possibility that gun-free zones are problematic?

            •  While you did use the word "maybe" in your post (0+ / 0-)

              It would appear from your comment that you are building the argument that gun-free zones are the problem. I would read the post from Slaw to suggest that the cause and effect are a bit more complex than that.

              •  Instead of building an argument (0+ / 0-)

                you baldly anounced that "one thing I am sure of: arming the adults at the school is a very, very bad idea." That's what is known as the end of an discussion. Not much room for complexity, let alone change.

                And these sorts of declarations tell me what I think any neutral observer would conclude—that the call for a "national conversation," is a disingenuous invitation by people who have no interest in discussion, just the enactment of policies they have already decided upon.

  •  Cold blooded risk management (0+ / 0-)

    Millions of adults in schools. One-in-a-million accidents are going to be happening Every Single Day even without people like the one you mentioned (and when I was in school there was no room for doubt that some of the adults were there because they hated kids).

    There are things unarmed people can do in mass shooting situations. Training teachers to handle such a situation is taking training time away from things they will actually have to do in their careers. Even that much may not be worthwhile.

    •  Its like entropy. Things tend towards disorder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      when a gun is around the state of disorder is the gun going off. The more guns around the more the likelihood one is going to go off.

      The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

      by CTMET on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 01:53:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Red Queen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A study of either biology or history would make a sane observer understand that arms races never make anyone safer. At best, they preserve a precarious equilibrium while ensuring that on the occasions when violence does erupt, it will be ruthlessly lethal. That's why some venomous snakes have incredibly potent toxins, far more powerful than what would be necessary to kill "normal," non-co-evolved prey. Whether it's predator vs. prey, one nation's military vs. another's, or worried citizens vs. crazed gun-toting terrorists, an arms race will not produce peace in the long run. The only choice is to break it off before it's too late.

    •  How would you answer (0+ / 0-)

      those that say the "barn door has been open so long", meaning there are too many guns already out there, that it is currently too late? I ask you because you have made what I consider a very good response and I am curious what you might have to say.

      •  It's too late for immediate relief, but not for (0+ / 0-)

        gradual de-escalation. It will take time for people to ease back down the summit of "overdefense" that we've spent so long scaling. I don't think it's impossible, however.

        One thing that would help -- in fact, that is essential -- is conscious reflection on the game theory puzzle that gun controls presents. It's a question of individual vs. societal benefits. If everyone else chooses to be unarmed, and I alone am armed, it's great for me. I'm safer and more powerful than anyone else. But this benefit cannot be multiplied indefinitely. If everyone chooses to be armed,  then all of us are now less safe than if none of us were armed. It's a classic game theory paradox that gun "rights" advocates have never recognized.

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