Stupid Stoneman Douglas Panel Has Stupid Idea: What If We Armed Teachers?
The Florida state commission tasked with investigating the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14 has released a preliminary draft of its report recommending ways to prevent future massacres, and it's stupid. The panel suggested armed teachers, stronger security, and better law enforcement are what's needed to keep body counts in schools at a manageable level. The last two points have merit but when they come after an idea as stupid as arming educators, it's hard to give them their due.
The panel voted 13-1 to recommend the Legislature allow the Rambo-fication of teachers. This is a stupid idea. Once you arm teachers, they are no longer teachers but mall cops with books. The stupid plan would let teachers carry guns in classrooms if they go through a "selection process" that involves background checks and training. I'm personally not comfortable with my kid in a classroom where the teacher took a few online courses and is now packing heat. If we're going this route, then I'd suggest just putting actual cops in school who are good at math or who at least listened to The Scarlet Letter once on Audible.
Why are we even talking about this? Well, the panel argues that it's not enough to have "one or two" police officers or armed guards on campus. Florida law already allows school districts to arm non-teaching staff members such as principals, custodians, and librarians (better return that book on time). I guess giving Miss Grundy a glock will definitely tip the balance of power.
The panel's chairman, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, pointed out that most deaths in school shootings happen within the first few minutes before law enforcement or armed guards can reasonably respond. You might say this sounds like a more logical argument for, you know, banning the sale of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that Nikolas Cruz reportedly used to kill 17 people. But just shut your dirty hippie mouth! Cruz stopped to reload his weapon five times, which Gualtieri stupidly believes would've provided ample opportunity for an armed teacher to take him out. Gualtieri is apparently under the impression that Mr. Gomez teaching freshman algebra is secretly Clint Eastwood.
No matter how reportedly unhinged Cruz was, it seems unlikely that one of his own teachers would be capable of emptying a clip in his chest. The panel apparently wasn't interested in listening to the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting who have publicly and eloquently advocated for sensible gun control policies, because it recommended none of those. The NRA is no doubt pleased.
The panel did have choice words for campus deputy Scot Peterson, who stayed outside when he heard shots fired. A victim's family is suing Peterson, and his "defense" is that he had no obligation to confront Cruz. Apparently he thought his sole responsibility was to keep Sloane Peterson from skipping school with Ferris Bueller, but nobody said anything about "suicide missions." You'd think that if an actual deputy was seized by fear, schoolteachers might be, as well.
Imposing a law enforcement duty onto educators isn't an educated decision. Frankly, it's stupid.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins runs from March through May at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo.