THE REAL DEBATE: ARMING THE TEACHERS
There is not much discussion. There is no real debate. A lot of rhetoric. An endless stream of words. There is more than enough hatred. Much more than is called for, if it is ever really called for. I don’t know what you envisioned life to be when you were small and what you expected it to become as you were growing up, but even as an adult I always thought we were all going in the same direction, looking for the same things. There truly was a light at the end of the tunnel and we would somehow all get there together. The path might be long but it really was possible to find peace and happiness, contentment and satisfaction. Isn’t that what everyone is looking for? Today I am not so sure. But reality is a slap in the face. Daily. I still want to believe, but it is so hard sometimes. There are a lot of stupid people out there but I just can’t decide if I am one of them or not.
Very early on in my journey of discovery, my ‘path’ of life, I became engrossed with the concept of philosophy. It soon became the fundamental essence of everything I would think or do. I was embarrassingly inept and unsure for so many years. I often doubted if I understood what was necessary to master such an easy concept that turned out to be so much more complicated and difficult in actual practice. The whole idea of making sense of all the complex issues and challenges that continually present themselves. I first had to understand myself, my strengths and my weaknesses. Then I had to learn to like myself. Then it became evident that I would need to love myself as well, and that proved difficult. To determine right from wrong and the ‘universality’ of rights for everyone, myself included. I see and hear so many people screaming about rights, but it always tends to be rights for them and theirs and for some reason not me and mine. Very confusing. Very disturbing. I thought everyone was going through their very own challenges, much as I was. If they were, I can only believe that somewhere along the way they gave up. I did not.
We have a real problem here. Our shooters. We can’t seem to find an answer. The real problem is that we are not trying. Not really. I want to talk about it. I want to resolve the issue. I want to protect the children. But not at anyone’s expense if not necessary. I want people to stop ranting and raving. I want them to think. I want them to suggest. I want to see them honestly and truly discuss. With passion and integrity. I want as many people as possible to get involved. But it is always the same ones. The same failed ideas. The same vapid rhetoric. The same corrupt agendas. The same all-consuming hatred. It is so discouraging. If this is going to continue, we all may as well stay home. Nothing is going to change. Maybe what I envision is hopeless, but I continue to think there is a possibility that somebody else wants what I want. Maybe not the same means, but the same ends. We need to get together on the means. They need to be consistent and fair. Anybody have a problem with that? They need to be thoughtful and reasonable. We need to deal through character and integrity. Do we not know the meanings of these words, these concepts? If we can, then I’m on board. If not, we will never be able to discuss, and certainly never agree. I am not going to hate. I am just trying to find an answer. You need to follow suit. That’s my choice. What’s yours?
The following is a never ending narrative of comments about comments about comments. Observations and questions. It’s the only way I know how to do this. To have a conversation. To discuss. To resolve. We are not on different sides, we are on different teams. Disagree if you must, but do so with respect and reason and compassion. Keep your eye on the goal. Our children’s future depends on it.
There are multiple reports that ‘most’ Parkland parents strongly oppose arming teachers, but yet I have been unable to discover where these findings have originated. There have been no polls. I see no reports. I certainly see many instances where individuals in fact do not support the proposal, as well as many that are just as strongly in favor. Creating a false impression that there exists a certain mindset is again not going to bring resolution. And yet they do the same thing all the time. We all have to remember that the results of our last presidential election were deemed laughably impossible. And yet they were not. Let us deal in fact and not in fiction. This is not a competition, although it often seems to be. This is of utmost importance.
Experts were split on the question. Who and what is an expert in this case is beyond my comprehension, but everyone has an ‘expert’ they like to refer to when trying to make a point. So many experts. So little success. Makes you wonder if anybody at all knows what they are talking about. Why isn’t this issue resolved yet? I guess we just need more experts. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri endorsed the program, but Lawrence Leon, chief of the school district police in Palm Beach County, is opposed.
Florida Governor Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio oppose arming classroom teachers even though both say they are 2nd amendment rights supporters. Governor Scott signed the bill designating school marshals, but Senator Rubio has made no alternative proposals I know of.
President Donald Trump supports it. He suggested the possibility of “giving concealed guns to adept teachers with military or special training.” He also tweeted that “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” He wants to put an increased focus on mental health. The president appeared frustrated over limited options to hospitalize people who exhibit warning signs, saying there once were more mental institutions. He also floated the idea of reopening some of these institutions, saying “many” closed over the years due to societal stigmas against them. He questioned that even if we identify these damaged individuals, what can we do with them? We have created a system where our hands are tied. What IS the answer?
He mentioned Aaron Feis, the football coach who died protecting students during the shooting at Parkland. He mused about what might have happened if he had a gun and was able to defend himself. Lives could have been saved. Trump added an astute and pertinent comment: “An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in, so the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
Many point to the possibility of police and teachers coming in conflict if both were armed. The FACT that most shootings are over before there is even a police presence just makes the need that much more of an imperative to have someone on site and ready when an event takes place. I realize there is blind opposition to our president, and I feel sorry for those that feel that way and refuse to listen to reason, but you need to remember to ignore the messenger and focus on the message. These are all valid comments. All valuable in the discussion we are attempting. Please try to think. Are you looking for consensus or is your ultimate goal coercion and tyranny.
“The last line of defense would be a highly trained person in the school,” said Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, referring to teachers with guns. The democrats, seemingly without exception, are of course opposed to any plan that arms the teachers. The party of ‘choice’ does not wish for there to be discussions of any kind on the subject.
U.S. House Rep. Val Demings, a former Orlando chief of police, panned the idea of arming school officials during a press call last Friday on a Democratic bill to incentivize states to adopt “gun violence restraining order” laws. “The time is now to pass sensible legislation, not ridiculous legislation that is sometimes proposed like arming teachers or principals,” the Florida Democrat said. It is always interesting to hear such condescending language from someone who has constituents that may disagree with her. That is the way our representatives ‘deliberate’ today. And what good would these ‘restraining’ orders prove to be? From my perspective, restraining orders have a dismal history of success. Much the same as gun free zones.
N.C. House republican state representative Larry Pittman commented; “We have to get over this useless hysteria about guns and allow school personnel to have a chance to defend their lives and those of their students,” he said. “Many lives could have been saved that were lost before the police got there.”
The NRA has long been an advocate for the proposal. In 2013, an NRA-supported task force issued a report that recommended arming teachers. The proposal was met with stiff resistance from the American Federation of Teachers, whose president called it “a cruel hoax that will fail to keep our children and schools safe.” And yet they are devoid of alternatives. Our children and our schools remain UNSAFE.
I know the bill sounds like a panacea to our problem, but it is not. Remember, Florida is but one state. $400 million and they are shooting in the dark. This is NOT a metal detector in each school. This is NOT a Resource Officer in every location. This is NOT comprehensive mental health care. And if you think that these costs will not skyrocket once instituted, then you have not been paying attention. When has government ever NOT made things more expensive, more bureaucratic and more complicated in the past? We have over 125,000 schools in this country. This will cost TRILLIONS of dollars to run. FOREVER. Some courageous people have questioned if this will not over burden our school budgets. The simplistic answer was to ‘split’ costs with the local communities. Really? Whether budget or community it still works out to the same thing. A lot of dollars. Taxpayer dollars. There is a finite limit to that support. Where are the people who continually ask where we will find those dollars for other new programs? What programs will be ‘cut’ to pay for this? No one seems to care. It is not important. It is not a part of the discussion. It should be.
As one Parkland parent, Frederick Abt, aptly put it, “There’s no lack of solution. What we’ve had is a lack of leadership.”
And then there are the teachers and parents who all have their opinion. The Douglas High School’s superintendent has spoken out firmly against a measure to arm teachers. The North Carolina state schools superintendent Mark Johnson, who earlier this week came out against arming teachers, proposing instead to hire more police officers to patrol schools.
Kevin Neiley, a local school social worker in North Carolina, with a background in mental health, agrees with the opposition. “I don’t want any of my colleagues to be able to carry a gun to school,” he says. “They’re not trained. I’ve watched teachers escalate kids. They make it worse. They don’t mean to, but we’re not trained.” He is not even listening to the discussion. What he wants is simply irrelevant to the narrative if he is not hearing the other side. It will NOT be all teachers, and they WILL be trained. It WILL be voluntary. There will be some who have law enforcement backgrounds as well as others with military experience. They will all be WILLING participants with an intent to become well trained defenders. 3 teachers died at Parkland. All coaches. Two of them died helping their students. They actually saved lives. Unfortunately not their own. They are described as heroes. Heroes without a means to defend themselves. Dead heroes. One of them was a naval reservist, another a security guard. I can never be sure, but the selflessness exhibited by these men could have been put to better use. We will never know where they stood on the issue of armed teachers, but I find it hard to believe that they would have done anything except protect their students. Would arming them have made a difference? We will never know. We also will never find out if there would have been 15, or 10 or even just one child who died that day if they had the opportunity to fight back, instead of just giving up their lives in a feeble attempt to shield bodies from an individual intent on killing. How can you refuse to even consider the possibilities? I thought we all wanted the same thing. If your beliefs make you unable to be the person we need, then so be it. If you do not have the resolve to put yourself in the line of fire, that is fine as well, but please let those that wish to become involved have the opportunity. Make sure they are indeed trained and ready. Be a part of the process in whatever capacity you are able. You obviously need someone else to protect you. Everyone cannot be a hero. Let’s try to have our heroes alive after a confrontation, and not one of the victims. Be a part of the solution.
Neiley, whose position was created in the mid-nineties to address students’ mental-health needs, said that he believes the core of the school shooting epidemic is access to assault rifles, not unaddressed mental health issues. “If we had more mental health professionals in schools, we might be able to recognize the people in school shootings,” he says. But, he adds, “You can’t regulate mental health. The thing that kills people in all of these school shootings is assault rifles.”
The refusal to accept reality is beyond the pale. The school shooting ‘epidemic’ is nothing of the sort. If you are informed you know that the use of ‘assault’ rifles is almost non-existent. Why do they keep repeating the same false information time and time again? We do not need ‘more’ mental health professionals in the schools. All of these shooters had been ‘recognized’, through numerous encounters, to have mental health issues. And I’m sorry, but you CAN regulate mental health. If you think you can regulate guns, why do you refuse to think we can regulate mental health? And what has ‘HE’ accomplished in his twenty years of experience? I think ‘experts’ should have some record of success, or they should receive no notoriety for something that is nothing more than a single opinion of little or no value. Their issues may be ‘unaddressed’ but they were NOT unknown to many professionals! The problem is that nothing is ever done about it except medicate and pass them off to another professional. When will we ever face the reality of our damaged kids? Don’t be a part of the problem. Help those that need help.
Shana Broders, a fifth-grade teacher at a local elementary school in North Carolina, also expressed concern about the possibility of arming teachers. “I can’t personally see how bringing more guns into a school will solve this problem,” she said. “There are of course teachers, like in all professions, that are quick-tempered, possibly dealing with anger issues, emotional outbursts … why would we want to arm them? And to have them near kids … I can’t wrap my head around that.”
Are there not ‘quick-tempers, anger issues and emotional outbursts’ existing in the ranks of our politicians, our protesters, our law enforcement and our Resource Officers? This is not a valid argument. That is what vetting is about. This is what training is about. That is part and parcel of the process to determine the individuals that we wish to have protect our children. She doesn’t want more guns in the schools? What does she think the Resource Officers will use to combat the shooters? ‘Time-out’ stickers? We can say ‘what if’ about almost anything. I say ‘what if’ we did something that actually saved all 17 children last month? Her arguments bring us no closer to resolution. And the clocks are ticking. We’re one day closer to our next attack. What exactly are her proposals? There is nothing. She just wants someone to fix it. Someone else. Anyone else. But she will disagree with possibilities because she … what? Because she ‘FEELS’ it is not the right thing to do? She really has no idea. She doesn’t have a clue. We need problem solvers, not problem creators. Not complainers, not whiners. We need people with actual answers. She is a teacher. She could have been a part of the conversation. She is just part of the background noise.
Recently, the administration and faculty at Cooper City Christian Academy, a small local private school not far from Parkland, discussed arming teachers. Addy Martinez, twenty-nine, teaches third grade there. She was with her husband, Jonathan, and a colleague, Donnie Mayle, a forty-one-year-old history teacher. Most of those present approved of the idea, they said, so long as there was appropriate training. Teachers are not currently allowed to carry weapons on campus. Martinez and Mayle both described teaching as their calling. “I had my own business for twenty years,” Mayle said. “I made more money. But I’d do anything for these kids. If that means checking on cars, fine. If that means a gun in the class, O.K.”
“I wouldn’t mind the extra responsibility,” Martinez explained. “You wouldn’t need to pay me extra. I told my husband, ‘I’d give my life for those kids.’ I would.” She went on, “I’m not saying give a gun to every teacher and expect them to know what to do. But strategically placed and trained teachers with guns, I see the need for that. Train me.”
Mayle and Martinez both believe that arming teachers is among the best ways to make schools safer, along with hiring specialized security, installing metal detectors, and “addressing all the mental issues that are at the core of this.” “Last week they were eating Tide Pods,” referring to the fringe phenomenon of young people posting online videos showing themselves eating detergent. Martinez laughed, and Mayle nodded. “We should listen to what they have to say,” Mayle said, alluding to student activists’ comments on gun control. “But you’ve got to take into account their maturity level.”
The parents and other students have concerns as well, and they are as diverse as everyone else, although not that you would know this by way of our mass media. There were several parents who called for arming teachers or other staff on campus or tightening security at schools to make them more like airports. One speaker whose sister was killed called for “more firearms on campus.” An email from Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow, one of the victims at Parkland said: “President Trump is right — we should allow willing, trained teachers to carry a firearm.” He also made the comment that “You have the choice to go to any school you want, so my answer to them is, ‘If you don’t want a teacher or a marshal or you don’t want someone with a gun at your school, you go to a gun-free school zone. That’s where you go,’”
“It’s about getting trained, qualified people in the right places to protect our children. That’s what it’s about,” he continued.
“We as a country failed our children,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen.”
Hunter Pollack, son of Mr. Pollack and one of Meadows brothers, made the comment that “I’m not here to debate, but I lost my sister. And like Mr. President said, if you could find 20% of maybe retired law enforcement officers, or a teacher who could go through discreet training to carry a firearm around his waist, it could’ve been a very different situation.”
“We need more security, we need more firearms on campus, we need better background checks, and we need to study more on mental health.”
Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of geography teacher Scott Beigel, credited with saving the life of some students, pleaded with lawmakers not to put loaded guns in the hands of teachers, even after a rigorous training and screening program. “It could easily cause additional chaos and fatalities,” she told legislators. If another shooter attacks a school, she said, “With the ongoing chaos, law enforcement could unintentionally shoot at a teacher.” Her voice breaking, Beigel Schulman said her son became a teacher to teach, “not to be a law enforcement officer.”
I certainly empathize with her grief, but her comments again need to be objective and considered. She has no evidence for her ‘feelings’. She objects unequivocally based on emotion, understandably. She has concerns that the police will ‘unintentionally’ shoot a teacher? Aren’t they trained not to do so? And as already stated, the carnage is over before the police arrive in almost every instance. As for her son becoming a teacher to teach and not to be an officer, who is saying he has to? It is a matter of getting the appropriate people in position. Voluntarily. Capable. Competent. Instead of nothing. We ask our teachers to be parents, counselors, psychiatrists and referees, why not officers? Especially if they are willing? It would be very interesting to see what Scott would have thought on the subject, especially in the aftermath of the reality. I too would like our teachers to do nothing but teach. Nothing but reading and writing and arithmetic. Nothing else. No perverted unrequested morals. No misguided political ideologies. No targeted hatred. But that is not the world we live in. We adapt, or we die.
Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime, who died in the attack, wants “the administration to publicly acknowledge the role of guns.”
I’m sorry? Did someone say there were no guns used in the attack?
He added; “The phones are these kids’ weapons—they’ve used them to actually record what took place while it was happening so that you can’t say it didn’t happen—and they’ve used them brilliantly.”
Again, did someone say that this did not happen? I feel sorry for this poor individual. His grief clouds his reason. And using the metaphor that their iPhones are their ‘weapons’ is extremely inappropriate. I have been following these phones since their advent and a good case could be made that these devices are a much greater threat to our society, our security and our lives than guns will ever be. Maybe it’s time for an assault iPhone ban?
He says that our representatives should “Support common-sense gun reforms. They should be going after companies that do business with the NRA—that lobby has our representatives tied up in knots, and we have to break that.”
Whose common sense? The NRA has no verifiable connections with any instance of violence. Why the blind hatred? Going after companies? Do you even understand the meaning of the word ‘freedom’? Do you understand the meaning of the word ‘bullying’? Do you believe in the Constitution? Do you deal with anything else besides coercion when you do not get your way? Do you want to discuss and debate? You do not. For any of these things. You don’t believe in America. You don’t even like it. You certainly do not appreciate your freedoms. You want what you want and you don’t give a damn about anyone else, or anything else. The way you think is directly responsible for the killings we are talking about. Guns are not the problem. Hatred and mental instability is what we should be ‘going after’. Instead you teach hate. What goes around comes around. And it’s coming back, and you can’t stop it. How sad you don’t even know it’s your fault.
He made an appearance at a town hall meeting and was able to ‘talk’ with Senator Rubio. He continuously bullied Rubio and interrupted his answers to the roar of applause from the crowd. Reminds me of the coliseum in Rome. They were Christians as well. Not the crowd. No one was interested in the comments from Rubio. They did not come for discussion or consensus. They came only to ridicule, to coerce. They work for capitulation. They promote nothing but hate. That is why this will fail. They may someday achieve victory. But not quite yet.
The parents of two children who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook school shooting told President Donald Trump the nation does not need to arm teachers, but should prevent mass shootings by training teachers to respond when a child displays certain signs of trouble. “Sandy Hook Promise has created something that works,” said Mark Barden, one of the originators, holding up a photo of his slain 6-year-old son Daniel. “We’ve already stopped school shootings. We’ve already stopped suicides.” It is reported that its mission is to help people “identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals” and “advocate for the passage of sensible mental health and wellness and gun safety laws.”
I feel for anyone who has lost a child in such a senseless fashion, and totally agree that passage of sensible mental health measures are necessary, but upon research, the main objective of their group is gun control, plain and simple, and that is something that should be noted. On the other hand, if the unsubstantiated comment that they have ‘already’ stopped school shootings could be validated, maybe we should put them in charge of resolving the issue. They want to ‘train’ our teachers to identify when our children display ‘certain kinds of trouble’? What does that mean? Making a mistake in diagnosis is the same as a tactical decision with a gun. And ultimately every bit as lethal. They want our teachers to identify those things that the professionals have missed? It takes years upon years to be qualified to do so. If they could do so, they would probably NOT be teaching. And yet they are against ‘training’ them to defend our precious children. Another instance of a complete intellectual disconnect.
At the North Carolina hearings, High schoolers talked about their fear of going to school in a climate where mass shootings seem increasingly common. This is a legitimate fear. I also fear violence, at a concert, or at a mall, or simply walking down the street. It happens, but not often. My fear does not dictate my actions. It does not run my life. There will never be any guarantees. I am diligent. I try to be observant. All of our damaged citizens are not children, and they can manifest their warped realities wherever they go. But the FACTS are that these events in our schools are NOT common. As mentioned, we have 125,000 school campuses in this country. There have been 300 school shootings in 20 years. 200 students were killed. Another 300 wounded. This is a horrible reality. Wasted lives. Unlived futures. Unexperienced joys and successes. I do not trivialize these numbers. I do not believe they are negligible. They are not societal collateral. They are real. I cherish life, and I mourn what could have been for these children, these students, and the families left behind. But everything in life needs to be put in perspective. In those same 20 years there were over 700,000 traffic fatalities. Over 12 million abortions. Another 12 million from cancer. We cannot hide from or cheat death.
One student stood and spoke. He criticized and vilified those representatives that did not agree with his positions. He had nothing to offer except for the tired call of banning assault weapons and a generic gun control. The students gathered there with him applauded and echoed a resounding “throw them out!” Is this what we are teaching our children in these hallowed halls of learning? Is this the way to solve our differences and our societal issues? Is this reasonable and thoughtful debate? Is this what you wanted? Well, it’s what you got. It’s what you paid for, and we’re paying top dollar. It’s part of the system that damages our children. It’s part of the problem. It really should not surprise you.
If arming teachers becomes reality, whether it be North Carolina or Florida, they would join eighteen states that already allow teachers to bring guns to school. This is not an issue that is going away any time soon. This is not an alternative that can be dismissed. It is viable. Is it a perfect option? It is not. NOTHING will ever stop a determined individual from creating chaos in a land of freedom until we are able to fix the damaged within our ranks. And that will take a tremendous amount of reason and cooperation. And the resolve to fix it. And no amount of money can buy that. And I am not sure we will ever see such a day.
Gun control advocates decry the gun lobby and document the NRA’s contributions to Republicans. They disrespect and belittle those offering “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, while they offer hatred and division, instead of cooperation and support. Wayne LaPierre, the executive director of the NRA, serves platitudes about armed Americans stopping “bad guys with guns” and warns Second Amendment enthusiasts that the lefties are coming for their weapons. We watch the families of the deceased mourn, and we hear anguished survivors beg lawmakers for tougher gun laws.
In recent years, the NRA Foundation has lavished North Carolina schools with money. According to a 2016 report, the foundation gave $458,785 in grants to North Carolina schools, police departments, gun clubs, and Boy Scouts chapters to support, among other things, shooting programs for kids. One of last year’s many grant recipients across the country was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. According to the Associated Press, the alleged Parkman shooter was a member of the school’s JROTC program.
I continually fail to see the reason for the visceral hatred displayed against the NRA. They do not promote gun violence in any way. Quite the contrary. They teach the proper use of a firearm. How to be confident and competent in the use and maintenance of the weapon. How to be a thoughtful gun owner. How to shoot. How to hunt. They prepare our students with knowledge, for those that may wish to choose a career in the military or law enforcement. How is this a bad thing? And there has NEVER been an NRA member among those we have labelled our shooters. Maybe a part of owning a firearm should be an intensive course through the NRA. Why all the hatred? It’s not the organization. It is the blind opposition to that lump of metal, the gun.
The NRA’s broad influence among lawmakers was the subject of a scathing, student-led town hall recently at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. There, North Carolina students and activists called on local lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws and wipe their hands clean of NRA funding.
“I have a zero-tolerance policy on politicians that get money from the NRA,” said Aaron Wolff, a ‘survivor’ of the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, to thunderous applause. “I also believe that arming our teachers is possibly the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”
Spoken like a true philosopher. Like someone who truly understands the meaning of the word ‘stupid’. The kind of person you just ‘know’ that you could have a conversation of substance with. Does he offer anything of value? Does he explain why he feels that way? He does not. It’s not necessary. He does nothing but incite and cause division. I guess Haters just gotta Hate. He calls himself a survivor of the shooting? Virginia Tech has a student population of 26,000. He sheltered in the basement of the veterinary building. There is a good chance I would have done the same. But I would never call myself a survivor. That is victim-speech. Just something else we teach in our schools today.
David Hogg, a student at Stoneman, is making a name for himself with his inflamed rhetoric, just what the movement is looking for. He made the comment that “This is a picture of education in fear in this country. The NRA (National Rifle Association) wants more people just like this, with that exact firearm to scare more people and sell more guns,”
And the false narrative continues. Where is his evidence that the NRA ‘wants’ to scare people and sell more guns? This great generation with their use of their iPhones. Where are the quotes? Where are the videos? Not the rumors. Not the misinformation that covers the web. Substantive information. Where is it? If anyone is ‘scaring’ people into buying guns it is people just like David. The fear does not come from responsible gun owners. It comes from the irresponsible, misinformed and woefully undereducated individuals that incite the mob to do things to others that they would never wish unleashed upon themselves. We have truly moved into a new age.
The age of ‘Unreason’.