Monday, April 16, 2007


In light of the shootings at Virginia Tech, I feel it is appropriate to reopen the question of guns in the classroom, something we've been discussing in our fair state for, oh, ever. But not only that. Not only guns on campus, because, as gun rights advocates state, even if we have rules, people will break them. But guns in general.
When I was on a ferry once from England to Ireland a nice man asked me "Why do Americans love guns so much?" What could I say? I'm an American. I don't love guns. He referred to a deadly school shooting in Scotland and said that less than a month afterwards it was more difficult to get a gun in Scotland. "Why doesn't America do that?" he asked. Why indeed.
But I've gotten off track. I meant to say that, as a teacher, I don't want to be afraid that a student who got a bad grade will hunt me down. I don't want to be afraid that a student will come in and threaten me with a gun. I don't want to be afraid that the classroom will not be a place for the free and open exchange of sometimes unpopular ideas because students are afraid that a peer might not agree and bring a gun.
As a parent, I'm afraid that my son will encounter a bully with a gun, or anyone with a gun, at his school. Probably not at the school he attends now, but he can't go there forever.
Even more, as an American, I'm sick of having to turn the channel when an ad for a violent TV show or movie comes on when I'm watching TV at 7 pm with my son. I'm sick of our culture that thinks killing and violence is entertaining. I'm sick of watching PG-13 movies that treat violence as an everyday occurrence that we should not react to with outrage and horror.
Show a nipple and you get an X rating. Show hundreds of people being murdered by machine gun fire, PG-13. (I don't know this for a fact, but based on my own movie viewing, this seems to be true).
What I'm really sick of is turning on the radio and hearing that someone, any one, the number does not matter, has been killed by another lunatic with a gun. I'm tired of gun rhetoric. I don't feel like I need a gun, and I sure as hell don't think anyone should be able to buy one at their local big box retailer.
I'm sick of lines like "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Sorry. A person without a gun is just an angry person. An angry person with a gun can kill someone. I can deal with an angry student. I do it more often than I'd like. An angry student with a gun is, unfortunately, sometimes a murderer.
My thoughts are with the survivors in Virginia. My thoughts can't do a lot. How about a law?


Nik said...

You touched on most of the points that have been running through my head all day. I hated hearing the numbers of dead climb. Thank you for your input. I'd much rather hear your commentary than anything the TV has to say. It makes me wish I was at your house, listening to you & MB make this more bearable.

Lisa B. said...

Well said, and I completely agree. We should talk to our legislators. Again.

Scorpion's Tail said...

ditto on agreement. I think Michael Moore began to scratch at the answer. I'm all for making guns VERY hard to get...but his comparison of USA and Canada (where guns are commonly owned but not used in homicide as much) is interesting, although probably too simplistic. In any case, if I remember correctly, I think he'd ditto your "violent media culture" point.

ErinAlice said...

This is why daughters only watch movies and not television. A boy inEmma's class told her he wanted to shoot somebody and go to jail. Now I think he was just saying that for a reaction where did he come up with that idea? Yikes!! I am not sure what the answer is.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly. A gun is nothing more than an instrument of death. I actually heard someone saying that if only the other students and teachers had been able to carry guess is that more people would die much more often, don't they see that????

Lisa--PSU forensics