BY BOB BEARDEN
Ramping up the rhetoric, Donald Trump is all over the place on gun control. In his speech at CPAC, he toed the NRA line for the most part. Then he went off script and called for stricter background checks, bump stock ban, and more money to focus on mental issues. But still rambled with wild rants and tweets. And he still wants to arm school teachers who overwhelmingly say no.
At my church a teacher spoke recently to the issue of arming teachers. In an impassioned plea she said no way would she accept doing that as a teacher to the point of opting out of teaching.
There is so much ignorance out there on this issue. The training that would be required. The coordination between armed teachers and the police. The coordination between armed teachers at the school. And how a teacher whose first consideration is teaching and second is the protection of the students they are teaching would be able to stop a gunman with an assault weapon without the possibility of the loss of their own life and the possible accidental loss of life by children who might come into the line of fire.
It is a very bad idea that goes way beyond the ignorance of even suggesting such a scenario. Teachers are not trained in law enforcement nor would they or should they have the training given to combat military personnel. I was in the Air Force for four years and received almost no training in combat techniques because it was not something that the Air Force in its infinite wisdom thought very likely that I would need.
My basic training consisted of military discipline and one day on the firing range where we qualified or not because we were there only to be mostly familiar with the military weapon of choice for the common airman or soldier at the time, the M-1 rifle. They were more concerned with making us a cohesive unit than they were of teaching us how to use a weapon or use it to kill another human being.
I realize that soldiers and marines are given a much higher skilled regimen of combat training and are usually issued weapons. They certainly underwent a much more difficult and intense training in that area than I did. But my point is that even in the military not all people who are members receive intense training in the use of weapons.
And then there is the issue of confronting or being confronted by a person armed with an assault rife who is intending to shoot as many kids and teachers as they can as fast as they can. My Uncle Lonnie who was with 101st Airborne during World War II, who parachuted into Normandy behind the lines at 0100 on D-Day and who fought across the hedgerows of France only to be captured during the Battle of the Bulge and spent the final nearly four months of the European War in a German prison camp would have a thing or two to say about arming teachers.
He was very reluctant to speak about his war experiences but on occasion he did. What I learned from him was that being confronted by someone who is holding a rifle and whose aim is to kill you – and the person on either side of you – is one of the most fearful things a human being can encounter.
He once said to me, “Son don’t believe all the crap you see in war movies. When you are face to face with the enemy and you are looking them in the eye and they are looking you in the eye, killing them is the hardest thing you will ever do. When you see their humanity staring back at you, pulling the trigger is the last thing you want to do, even though you know it is either them or you! Don’t ever believe that taking another life is something that is easy to do, because it isn’t, and those incidents never leave your mind!”
Teachers are overwhelmingly caring, kind and gentle by the very nature of being in a profession where they are helping our children learn and to think rationally. To think that they can be made into a hardened combat veteran with just a little amount of training and a pistol strapped on their hip is not only insane, it is carrying ignorance of what it means to take another life to insane heights.
When hunters shoot game – rodents and rabbits and even big game – the game is not shooting back. For the most part, the game they are hunting are trying to get the hell out of the line of fire. It’s one thing to hunt an animal and an entirely different thing to pull out a pistol and confront a person who has a loaded clip and assault rifle and whose intent is to kill you and all the children under your care.
Teachers don’t go into teaching desiring to be security guards with loaded weapons. More guns in schools is not the answer. Safer and saner gun laws is the answer. And making this nation safer from gun violence has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Other nations have stopped the mass murder rampages of gunmen killing their children and their teachers and have not infringed upon their citizens’ rights to own guns. They have just used common sense measures to make their schools, playgrounds, movie theaters and malls safer and less subject to a rampaging gunman.
We can do it here. And we can start by listening to our children and our young people who are saying enough is enough. Our children are our future. They are the future of our nation. Stopping the carnage of our children should be the most important thing in our lives.
Arming our teachers is the single most idiotic idea ever thought up by this president – of which there have been many. Our children are standing up and speaking up and speaking out and they are telling us to stop letting the NRA rule the narrative. They want to be safe wherever they are. Why would we not want the same thing? It is my belief that the time has come for action and those who remain intransigent on the issue of gun control are facing a deluge of action from our children.
This time I believe it will be different. Our children are angry and mad that they continue to hear the same ol’ same ol’ from our elected officials. They want real reform.
As a gun owner all my life I believe it is long past time for safe and sane gun control and reform. We need to listen to our children because they are telling us what must be done. Let’s get behind our children. When they march we too should be marching. It’s the right thing to do and as Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do that which is right!”
– Bob Bearden is a trustee with the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City