Monday, March 28, 2005

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Guns and Teachers

Even if President Bush had to be prodded to make a statement about the school slayings at the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Bemidji, Minnesota, the National Rifle Association waded right in. Commenting on the tragedy, Sandra S. Froman, first vice president of the NRA, suggested that perhaps teachers ought to be armed: “I’m not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students.” Surely, few people can think Froman's idea has any merit. With the exception of three years when I was in the army, I have been around teachers all my life. I cannot think of one teacher, including me, that should be armed. I suspect that most teachers would wield a gun the same way that Froman wields the English language, and that is truly scary.

In my imagination, I can see the gun-totin’ teachers shooting each other, or a gaggle of the teachers and one or two students creating a deadly crossfire throughout the school, multiplying the number of dead and injured rather than decreasing it. Lord Rochester in “Satyr against Mankind” writes about how fear drives mankind: “for fear he arms, and is of arms afraid.” We fear losing power, popularity, wealth, position, and reputation. Fear begets fear; hate begets hate; violence begets violence. None of these ills can be reduced with guns, ameliorated with guns, or cured with guns.

Courtesy, tolerance, and respect are the hallmarks of a civilized society. I cannot count the number of books, television shows, newspapers, and websites that substitute rudeness for courtesy, intolerance for tolerance, and disrespect for respect. Calling a democrat a communist or socialist who supports Saddam Hussein or calling a republican a fascist or an American Taliban does not make the assertions so. The search for truth must be based on fact. Everyone has a right to opine whatever he wishes about anything, but he does not have a right to have his opinions given credence. Trying not to violate anything I have said above, I would have begun the story about the NRA and Susan Froman by writing: “The NRA today advanced their usual cure for anything that has to do with guns by suggesting that more people be armed with more guns.”