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?