Talk of Arming Teachers is a Start, But Lets Get Serious

Second Amendment

The Millcreek Township School District of Erie, Pennsylvania has decided to arm teachers, but not with what you think…

Fayetteville, AR –-(  The Millcreek Township School District of Erie, Pennsylvania has decided to arm teachers in case of a mass shooting. Before the gun control activists reach a rolling boil, however, the weapons that will be issued are not firearms.

They’re not pellet guns. Nor are they swords. They’re bats. Not bats suitable for baseball or even softball, either. Little bats, better referred to as batons. District superintendent William Hall explained that this would provide teachers a “consistent tool” in case of an attack, admitting that “the bats are more symbolic than anything.”

Where to begin… I’m working hard not to have visions of rabid chipmunks emerging from the Allegheny Mountains to gnaw on the desks. Or an invasion of ping pong balls. Something is better than nothing, but to borrow a thought from Jeff Cooper, under what circumstances a little bat would be the best weapon in an attack on a school is not clear. Walking down a street past bars of rowdy drunks? Perhaps. Dissuading an aggressive panhandler? At times. But when a maniac has planned out an attack with the goal of killing as many students and staff as possible to get himself an unearned spot in the news, a stick—not even a pointy one—is, shall we say, less than ideal.

It’s understandable that teachers and administrators want to “do something” about school shootings. All decent people do. But we have to base our policy decisions on the possible and the reasonable. With that in mind, consider the facts.

For one thing, the United States has almost fifty million elementary and secondary school students. And despite the impression that student activism pushes, school shootings are not on the rise.

Which is to say that schools are among the safest places for children and teens to be. As shocking as it will be to say, doing nothing might be the best response. On the principle that any action comes with risk, whatever solution we call for will have to show that the benefit would be greater than the harm.

Admittedly, little sticks pose little danger, though overconfidence is a possibility. But they are also busywork, creating the impression that something has been done.

A school shooting is an example of a rare event that has far-reaching effects. The annual flu season kills tens of thousands each year in this country alone, but Ebola was foreign and thereby terrifying. Airline travel is much safer than driving, but no one fires X-rays through my book bag or makes me take off my shoes when I get into my vehicle. We’re bad at assessing risk.

Alas, given the political realities, doing nothing isn’t going to please enough people to win a policy proposal. And doing nothing of any consequence isn’t going to stop the few attacks that are going to happen.

What, then, should we do? We need to insist on the facts since a recognition that the risks are minimal will give us the space to be rational. Allowing teachers who are willing to get training in the use of effective weapons to counter a mass shooting and then to have such weapons available to them is a good idea, since attackers have the advantage, especially if law enforcement refuses to act. But the best thing to do would be to work on whatever motivates these attacks.

Gun control is busywork, and handing teachers little bats is a good effort at being as off-topic busy as we can be. But surely we can find better solutions than an aid to teething beavers, and to those people who want to make society better, I’m ready for the discussion.

Greg Camp
Greg Camp


About Greg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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