Teachers are not soldiers. Arming them is counter to the message of the Gospels.

President Donald Trump takes a question from reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, to travel to Oxon Hill, Md. to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)President Donald Trump takes a question from reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, to travel to Oxon Hill, Md. to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

My classroom has no windows. This means if a shooter invades, we have nowhere to go. It is in the chemistry building at the University of California at Berkeley, a relic of the Brutalist era when architects believed buildings that look like supermax prisons might somehow be conducive to learning. I often prop the door open to let in some air, so a shooter could just walk right in. The campus police advise us to lock our doors from the inside, but our classroom doors do not lock.

When I arrived at the campus the day after the surviving students from Parkland, Fla., traveled to Washington, D.C., to talk to a president who held empathy cue cards, my colleague told me she is desperate to change her classroom. Like mine, it has no windows. There is no escape.

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My classroom has no windows. This means if a shooter invades, we have nowhere to go.

Our pedagogical training in graduate school covered the usual topics. How to plan a syllabus, select books, design assignments, handle student grumbles about grades. We did not worry about school shootings or being armed ourselves; we worried about budget cuts. Today, in my 20th year teaching writing to college students, my evaluations will tell you I am good at my job, and I am repeatedly told that care for my students comes through in my work. My mother was a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. My niece will graduate from college this year and begin a teaching credential program. Teaching is as natural to me as breathing air.

In the 17 years I’ve been on the faculty at U.C. Berkeley, a high-intensity, competitive campus full of some of the world’s most talented students, I have never once thought I was going to die at their hands. Instead of erupting in rage, our students routinely turn their concerns inward. Stress, anxiety and depression are rife in our student population, and agonized emails of worries about their health and safety regularly circulate on our faculty listserv.

Teachers do not talk about being afraid of our students. We talk about being afraid for our students.

We do not talk about being afraid of our students. We talk about being afraid for our students. Afraid of ICE raiding the dorms, afraid of white supremacists marching through campus, afraid of the way people talk about our students on social media, smearing them into caricatures and stereotypes. In the past two years, campus life has become so stressful that even the most stalwart faculty members are reporting chronic headaches, insomnia and digestive trouble. We do not want our students to hurt themselves. We do not want our students to die.

What should characterize the student-teacher relationship in such circumstances is a sense of trust. I trust my students will not deliberately hurt me, and they trust I will take responsibility for them. The N.R.A. regularly argues that the ownership of guns is a matter of freedom. But if freedom means arming teachers, as President Trump has suggested, we have become free to violate the relationship of trust we build with our students because we would also be free to kill them.

More guns in more hands only mean more bodies: young bodies, vulnerable bodies, our bodies and theirs.

Training teachers in the same way we train police officers would do nothing to ensure student safety, as the many shootings of unarmed black people have shown us over the past few years. Philando Castile was an employee of a school district with a concealed carry permit who had taken gun safety classes; nonetheless, he, too, was shot by police. If anything, more guns in more hands only mean more bodies: young bodies, vulnerable bodies, our bodies and theirs. Teachers are not soldiers; we should not have to ask ourselves if we would die for our students—though most of us would tell you, yes, we would. Neither should we have to ask ourselves if we would kill one of our students. But if we are somehow forced to arm ourselves, that is ultimately what we are being asked to be willing to do.

 

The possibility of arming ourselves also runs completely counter to the message of the Gospels. The odds that those who draw a gun will die by the gun are high. What if we instead turned our faith into works? Cardinal Seán O’Malley recently tweeted that “our thoughts and prayers must be joined with action.” Teacher unions are already rallying around gun control as an issue; we can push them and our elected leaders to do more.

Our nation needs to do more for its students: more mental health care would be the most logical place to begin. More resources for counseling, more attention to mental health issues in teacher training. We need to talk more about the toxic masculinity that puts boys into what Chimamanda Adichie has called a “hard, small cage,” the only perceptible escape from which, for many, seems to be violence. We need to train teachers to listen and be aware of what students are thinking and feeling, not to train teachers to terminate student lives.

We need, in other words, to learn from our students. We are learning from the students of Stoneman Douglas High as they discover their agency and lead the way. Long may they continue to teach us.

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J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

Teachers are not soldiers. Arming them is counter to the message of the Gospels.

Not all teachers would be armed. It would be voluntary.

Many want to be armed to save their own life and student's lives.

How is saving lives contrary to the Gospel?

Julett M. Broadnax
9 months 3 weeks ago

JCosgrove - look up patriarchy resulting in masculine toxicity. It is behind the rise in violence so until we eliminate the violence, gun control (not eliminating all guns) is one of the steps to protect the innocent.

J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

It is behind the rise in violence

What rise in violence? It has declined for years and is now at a much lower level than 20-30 years ago.

Google "More guns, less gun violence between 1993 and 2013 AEI"

I would put the link in but that sends the comment into moderation.

Also a reporter in Minnesota wondered how the increase in guns over the last 20 years has led to less/low gun deaths?

On Thursday, Minneapolis station WCCO reported on guns and crime in Minnesota. Anchor Frank Vascellaro's introduction: "More people are carrying guns than ever before, but the crime rate remains low." Imagine that.

I would look to the role of the father or lack of father as the major cause of violence. The correlation is very high as opposed to your idea of masculine toxicity.

Julett Broadnax
9 months 3 weeks ago

It is not my idea re toxicity - can tell by your response you have no idea what I am talking about. Abd stats I have read about gun deaths and mass shootings indicate increase not decrease tho NRA has put out theur own stats to justify sales.

Stuart Meisenzahl
9 months 3 weeks ago

Julett
Perhaps you could better explain what you are talking about .....references to "patriarchy" etc. tend to cloud rather than explain. Such conceptual code words seem to convey a sense of superior intellect above ordinary mortal understanding rather than to elucidate....but then again perhaps that is the purpose of such words.

J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

Abd stats I have read about gun deaths and mass shootings indicate increase not decrease

When someone espouses fake information, one has to believe other things they say may be based on false perceptions. It is easy enough to verify crime statistics since there are lots of government statistics.

What you are saying is incoherent if violent crime has gone down and it has. Though it has risen in certain communities over the last couple years.. Also it seems your problem is with God who made men more aggressive than woman. That I agree with. How men handle these increased aggressive tendencies is the issue. One thing that helps is an active father in the boy's life.

In the particular case of Nikolas Cruz, there is a very disturbed young man raised without a father and an elderly mother and an irresponsible local government who allowed him to channel aggressiveness in incredibly anti-social activities. I wonder how he was able to get a gun and why local authorities did not prevent it. Were there laws broken or are there new laws that have to be made. What varied in Broward County from other areas.

"Masculine toxicity" is a meaningless buzz word. I suggest all the editors and authors here at America read Jordan Peterson whose book just spent a whole month at number 1 on Amazon.

Chuck Kotlarz
9 months 2 weeks ago

The number of mass slaying incidents reached ten in the 70s, nineteen in the 80s and over thirty in the 90s and 00’s. The 2010 decade already has forty mass slayings.

Ellen B
9 months ago

Why then do most people feel LESS safe having "volunteers" carrying guns near them? Do the students & other teachers then have the option of having a safe zone between them & the armed teachers? As we've seen recently in the news teachers carrying guns "voluntarily" has resulted in two school shootings. What kind of a person thinks that they can look a child in the face & pull the trigger? Do you really believe that in response to a shooting with a military grade weapon, a person armed with anything less than a military grade weapon has a chance? Why are people being allowed to possess military grade weapons? The gun laws that have been rolled back in recent years need to be reinstated.

Ellen B
9 months ago

Why then do most people feel LESS safe having "volunteers" carrying guns near them? Do the students & other teachers then have the option of having a safe zone between them & the armed teachers? As we've seen recently in the news teachers carrying guns "voluntarily" has resulted in two school shootings. What kind of a person thinks that they can look a child in the face & pull the trigger? Do you really believe that in response to a shooting with a military grade weapon, a person armed with anything less than a military grade weapon has a chance? Why are people being allowed to possess military grade weapons? The gun laws that have been rolled back in recent years need to be reinstated.

Chris Lochner
9 months 3 weeks ago

Luke 22:35-38. Is Jesus saying, updated for modern times, buy a gun? Of course not, but I believe he is stating the realities of acquiring a tool for personal protection. Use of the sword to kill is abhorrent while use of the sword for protection is not. Jesus was not an idealistically naive waif. The debate over arming teachers and the ongoing firearms debate has NOTHING to do with religion and everything to do with an agreed upon public policy. Those who are religious and who attempt to impose their will on others in this regard are not speaking for Christ but are misperceiving their own secular beliefs for Divine Beliefs and, of course, this is a common problem. And, sorry, but as for **some** of the views of the Author...academia is not referred to as The Ivory Tower without good reason. What's interesting is I've neither owned nor shot a gun, ever. Yet, I do not believe this affords me the right to demand a similar life situation to be true for others. Maybe help others more than demand of others?

Julett M. Broadnax
9 months 3 weeks ago

Again, Chris why do some immediately jump to the conclusion that gun control means confiscating all guns?

J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

why do some immediately jump to the conclusion that gun control means confiscating all guns

It is what America, the magazine, means by it. They want the 2nd Amendment repealed which is tantamount to the confiscation of guns.

Texas (allows concealed carry) and California (very strict) have very different gun control laws and yet gun violence is about the same in each state. So what is meant by gun control?

Julett Broadnax
9 months 3 weeks ago

But THIS article does not discuss confiscation of guns.

Christopher Lochner
9 months 3 weeks ago

"However, we believe that in the long run and with few exceptions -- i.e. police officers, military use -- handguns should be eliminated from our society." - this is a footnote from a November 2000 study &" ...for effective and courageous action to control handguns, leading to their eventual elimination from our society." - a 1990 pastoral statement on substance abuse. Uncertain as to if there are updates. Next Monday, business takes me to DC so I'll stop by to ask the USCCB in person. (Hope they, ahh, allow me in to ask. ;) ) My hometown of Baltimore had a horrible murder rate in 2017 but is so far "greatly" reduced for 2018. A number of unsung heroes inclusive of the embattled city police department are making this so. I'm not opposed to reasonable standards on firearms but believe there is no simple solution. A real quick comparison of USA with England & Wales shows that even if all firearm murders were factored out of USA statistics our murder rate would still be higher than England & Wales. As a Brit commented on this site, they are much more peaceful. The share of murders with a firearm varies between 50% in 1961 to 73% in 2016. The vast majority of murders occur in our inner cities. I make no political nor ethnic statement on this issue but we ignore this reality at our peril. The issues run deep and a march allows for catharsis but there is still much heavy lifting to be done.

Dolores Pap
9 months 3 weeks ago

As a parent- no way would I ever permit my children to attend any school where the use of guns as an aversive measure is an option for staff. Since when do we ask our teachers to do the jobs of law enforcement? Only in a society that has truly lost its way would this be even considered an option. I just see more tragedies in the making..

Julett Broadnax
9 months 3 weeks ago

Thoroughly agree with you. My daughter teacher and granddaughter/niece/nephew teachers want no part of guns in classroom. Good article on guns I read today. Will try to find it again as it addresses gun issues in a very reasonable and civil way.

Stuart Meisenzahl
9 months 3 weeks ago

Dolores
If that is your attitude you had best keep your kids off the streets , out of malls and away from entertainment venues.....they all have police carrying guns!

Stuart Meisenzahl
9 months 3 weeks ago

The author of this article is fencing with straw persons of her own creation. She boldly predicates: "If we are some how forced to arm ourselves..."
What nonsense. No one has suggested that teachers be REQUIRED to be armed.
The litany of things she claims teachers and students fear: ICE raids in the dorms and white supremacists is torn from the Berkeley Posting boards. She conveniently left out Antifa riots and banning uniformed police from the campus as intimidating..

The reference to Philandro Castile is grossly and intentionally misleading. Castile did carry a permitted gun and he was employed by a school district. But his death had absolutely nothing to do with his employment by a school nor was a school the location of his death.

Charles Erlinger
9 months 3 weeks ago

The error of single factor proximate causality attribution is mirrored by the error of single factor risk prevention attribution. In these battles over risk elimination related to the frequency of gun related crimes, many elementary concepts learned in industrial and even financial risk management are ignored, possibly due to ignorance, but also possibly due to more socially pernicious reasons. But regardless of why these elementary concepts are ignored, the fact is that they are never voiced or referenced, in defining the problem ln terms that Illuminate the rational distinctions that categorize the problem into its various constitutive parts. This effectively dooms the outcome of any solution formulation to ineffectiveness. One of the errors in formulation is the illusory postulation that the socially achievable goal of any proposed gun measure is risk elimination as district from risk reduction. This error in formulation invites the Introduction of the rhetorical device which discounts the validity of proposals aimed at risk reduction, on the grounds that they do not achieve risk elimination.

Robert Lewis
9 months 3 weeks ago

As usual, with all those commentators on these threads opposing reform, progress, or change in any aspect of the political, social or ecclesiastic set-up, obfuscation, smoke screens, straw men and slippery-slope reasoning are everywhere in their screeds.
The ARTICLE is about violence in SCHOOLS suffered by schoolchildren and their teachers, and it argues that to refuse to do anything about it is cruel, callous and anti-Christian--which it most palpably IS.
While it is true that there are numerous factors in this violence--some of which have not even been discussed (and which might get the goats of these complacent right-wingers, perhaps even more than guns--such as homophobic bullying by boys of boys)--and which include opioids, lack of metal detectors at the doors of schools that serve the posh clientele of suburban schools (as opposed to what greet black and brown kids at the doors of inner-city schools), etc., there is STILL one salient fact that stands out, which these "protectors of gun rights" don't want you readers to dwell on: IF THE SHOOTERS HAD ONLY PISTOLS OR HUNTING RIFLES, as apposed to semi-automatic weapons, there'd be, at most, only three or four children dead, NOT SEVENTEEN OR TWENTY!!!
These stalwarts of complacency and the status quo want to divert the conversation away from the simple practicality of doing good by saving lives onto all sorts of other ridiculous propositions, such as "arming teachers," when the simple, practical measure of banning semi-automatic weapons stands out as "what Jesus would do" to save the lives of at least SOME of these innocents.

Stuart Meisenzahl
9 months 3 weeks ago

Robert
Speaking of screeds .....you have deliberately distorted the subject of this Article to suit your own beef. Of course the Article is about violence in schools but it's purpose was to object to the specific singular proposal to oppose such violence by providing arms and training for teachers who are interested and willing to commit to provide "A safety factor". Neither the Article nor the comments exclude the possibility/desirability of other measures in addition.

In your eagerness to attack "right wingers" you impute/create out of thin air an argument that if one is for "arming teachers " then he must be against outlawing automatic weapons or other measures as well.
That is pure Fabrication and Nonsense!!
I am all for an "assault weapon ban" as well as "enhanced background checks" as well as having volunteer trained armed teachers. But I also understand that there are Constitutional rights not so easily circumscribed as you have otherwise implied. You might consider that ALL of these school attacks had two things in common: guns and mental illness. The former is the passive instrument ...the latter is the active instrument. I Will not adopt your attitude to other commenters by suggesting that your failure to mention all these other measures must mean you exclude or are insensitive to these other measures.

Robert Lewis
9 months 3 weeks ago

I am NOT interested in "Constitutional rights" in comparison with the lives of innocent children. I am also a secondary school teacher who is horrified by this attitude of solving a problem that poses a threat to the lives of my students by arming ME. And I certainly DO think that the proposal of arming me is to divert attention from what some of MY STUDENTS are calling for--the banning of all assault weapons. Also, there are more problems than just "mental illness"; this whole culture is deeply perverted and profoundly sick, with its violence, its materialism, its gross sexual depravity--but addressing any of that, in this emergency, takes a back seat to PROTECTING MY STUDENTS!!!

William Bannon
9 months 3 weeks ago

Robert...a Glock pistol can with a larger magazine hold as many bullets as an assault weapon. Sig Sauer pistols used by the papal Swiss Guard ditto. All non revolvers share this with assault weapons.....many bullets fired one by one trigger pull per shot but with no delay. Only the Las Vegas murderer changed his semi automatic into fully automatic machine gun by way of the bump stock. Banning assault weapons fine....but you're left with pistols that fire as many rounds as an AR15....and just as quicknand with multiple magazines in the murderers pockets.
Mental illness is not a factor in many of these....selfish, isolated, wounded males are the problem but they are not diagnosable as mentally ill in most cases.

Robert Lewis
9 months 3 weeks ago

Then ban every single weapon that can fire so many rounds all at once, ban them from anyone who's not over twenty-one and anyone who has any kind of criminal record or who is on any "watch list." We want these military-style weapons that are most suitable for combat OUT of the hands of all but the most mature and trusted people in the United States, and this time, as the kids say, we're COMING AFTER all the politicians, including the cretin-in-chief, who are opposed to that measure, and THIS TIME we're putting our money and time where our mouths are. Shotguns for hunting and simple pistols for protecting one's home and property are the only weapons that should be in the hands of the general public anyway; all these other kinds are really meant for killing and wounding human beings.

Patrick Murtha
9 months 3 weeks ago

I am confused. There is nothing in the article, except one sentence, that mentions the gospels. Yet the title says that giving a teacher a weapon is contrary to the gospels. Will the author please rewrite this and explain how guns in a teacher's hand is contrary to the gospels? The premise is as ludicrous as saying, "A pen in a soldier's hand is contrary to the gospels."

Robert Lewis
9 months 3 weeks ago

It's really very simple: if a person wished to join a profession that involved the use of deadly force, he or she would have joined the military. We joined the teaching profession, instead, and we don't want to be forced to do something that is inimical to our vocations. Don't you think that Christ is in favour of people's being true to their vocations? Shall we arm the priests who are saying mass, just because some priests have been killed while saying mass?

Patrick Murtha
9 months 3 weeks ago

My point was not about whether or not a teacher ought to be armed. My point is how is arming a teacher contrary to the gospels. The proposition was stated but not defended. (Perhaps the fault lies with the editors who wrote the title, alluding to a point that was not the point of the article.)

But in answer to your question, deadly force in self-defense and in defense of those we have charge over may be required of anyone at anytime. This is a matter of defense, not offense. Arming a teacher is not making them any less "true to their vocation." And yes, not be naive, some priests do arm themselves for self-defense--are they less a priest for doing so?

Stuart Meisenzahl
9 months 3 weeks ago

Robert
I understand your concerns but you keep attacking the same straw person that the Article set up. Despite your assertion, there has been no suggestion by anyone that a teacher be "FORCED" to arm himself.

J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

It would be unwise to force anyone to arm themselves. Probably a small percentage have the right disposition to conceal carry. I am a military veteran who would not trust myself with a gun and want no gun in my house. But I have a few friends who carry who I would especially trust.

J Cosgrove
9 months 3 weeks ago

The deadliest school killing was not by guns. It was by a bomb.

Google "The 1927 Bombing That Remains America’s Deadliest School Massacre"

Does anyone doubt that an enterprising chemistry student could not do this? Should we ban the American Chemical Society?

Also google "The Four Most Important Lessons of Columbine Slate 2009"

The people in Florida violated all four lessons learned to prevent a school shooting.

This is all about politics and not saving the lives of children. Calling Trump a "racist" or a "child killer" is all the Democrats have to offer. The last is ironic given abortion and an excellent case could be made that the Democrats are the real racists in our political world.

Mike Theman
9 months 3 weeks ago

Instead of erupting in rage, our students routinely turn their concerns inward. Stress, anxiety and depression are rife in our student population, and agonized emails of worries about their health and safety regularly circulate on our faculty listserv."

Ironically, the writer fails to see that repression of the natural human inclination and need to outwardly emote leads to potentially dangerous acts, the now-cliche of students literally exploding after years of repressing their feelings.

"Toxic masculinity" is a made-up term that refers to one's dislike of the fact that males are naturally more aggressive than women (which is why men naturally dominate in society). Even Jesus exhibited so-called "toxic masculinity" at the Temple in Jerusalem.

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