My Teacher’s Glock: Safety In The School Place

For some time, we have had security guards with guns in schools. We have had metal detectors, evacuation drills and lock-down procedures. But lately, Michigan lawmakers are wondering if this is enough. In the wake of the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings, Michigan Republican senator Mike Green of Mayville is pushing for the next step, namely, the ability for teachers and faculty to carry guns on school grounds.

Revisiting a legislation (called Senate Bill 59) proposed in 2007, Senator Green aims to bring the bill back to life, granting authority to the superintendent of any school district to allow or permit individuals including faculty, staff and parents to carry concealed firearms in the previously “gun-free” zones of school districts. In Senator Green’s view,

“The only way you can deal with people of that nature is to deal with another gun. The NRA proposed hiring cops [for every school]. I don’t believe that’s the way to go, but if we had somebody inside that was trained to use a weapon, that would be able to do some of the same things as a cop, that would probably have more of an effect on perpetrators.”

Indeed, in a weird twist of fate, Senate Bill 59 was approved for the legislature not 24 hours before the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The bill, however, was vetoed shortly after by Governor Rick Snyder because he believes that both public and private institutions should have the right to allow or prohibit concealed weapons. In response to the rejection of the bill, Governor Snyder wrote:

“I believe that it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons from their premises. Each is entrusted with the care of a vulnerable population and should have the authority to determine whether its mission would be enhanced by the addition of concealed weapons.”

Despite the hesitant feeling of the state of Michigan, individuals and their local communities are beginning to find less direct ways to allow school staff to carry concealed weapons. In Delton-Kellogg Schools, a school district only thirty minutes from Calvin, thirty-one adults have recently started training in a Delton Township Police Department course in becoming a reserve officer. Among the group of trainees watching surveillance footage of both the Sandy Hook and Columbine shootings is an assistant principal for the local Delton middle school. Within 12 short weeks, the assistant principal will now have the legal right to carry a concealed weapon into the school.

What are we to think of this?

I’m not talking specifics — I’m not even trying to make an argument. What I want is signs of empathy. What I see, though, is a whole lot of pointed fingers. As I read different accounts of these events, I saw a few common themes: anger, righteousness and self-proclaimed piety to name a few. But I do not say this to encourage you to ignore the opinions of others. There are genuine solutions to these problems, but that is not what I am speaking to at this moment. What I am speaking to is simple. I am not here to argue with Republicans or Democrats. I am not here to assert my two-cents immediately.

No, I am writing this to call attention to the fact that teachers are beginning to feel like they need to bring guns into their classrooms. I am writing this because I never thought it possible that an assistant principal for a small town middle school would have to carry a concealed handgun to work.