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COLUMN: Guns do not belong in classrooms

Hardline gun activists are suggesting armed teachers is one way to deal with school shootings in the United States.
Hardline gun activists are suggesting armed teachers is one way to deal with school shootings in the United States. - 123RF Stock Photo

My family has a history with teaching.

My grandfather taught for 38 years, including spending time at a school in Channel before moving back east and becoming a principal at an early incarnation of the high school in Bay Roberts.

My mother taught just as long, although she predominantly spent her time in classrooms on the east coast. She ended her time at St. Peter’s Primary in Mount Pearl teaching kindergarten.

My brother was a substitute teacher for a couple of years and even spent a year at Northern Lights Academy in Rigolet, Labrador before he changed professions.

With that in mind, to say my chosen path as a journalist is contrary to the preferred career choice for my family.

That connection to the classroom that makes the news coming out of the United States hard to stomach.

We all know about what happened in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day when police say a teenaged gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 and killed 17 people. The majority of them were students, but others were a teacher, athletic director and an assistant coach with the football team.

In the week following the tragedy, survivors have called for more restrictions on guns in the United States and have taken the fight to politicians, many of whom have received donations from the National Rifle Association, in that regard.

All I can do is watch, being a world away in Corner Brook. I usually hesitate to offer my opinion on matters like these. It’s not my country, and guns were never my thing anyway.

But, in recent days those opposed to further restrictions, or any restrictions at all, have started pushing the idea of arming teachers.

Turning teachers into John McClane is their answer. By the way, he isn’t a real person but “Die Hard” fans will know him well.

And, that’s where the story takes a turn for me.

I’ve heard some wild stories from all three family members from inside the classrooms they’ve taught in.

The tales of desks thrown, verbal barrages and other highlights stunned me on first listen.

In the last couple days, though, I’ve been thinking about my mother carrying a weapon in a classroom. When I do so, it makes me shudder.

Just to think of that she’d be in a situation where she would be forced to protect her students from a gunman with a handgun she had just dug out of her purse doesn’t sit right with me.

I can see her closing the door to her classroom and ushering her students in a closet at the back while she waited for a bad man with a rifle to enter the room.

She might get a couple of rounds off before the hail of bullets coming towards her took her life.

It’s hard to think about, truthfully.

It can happen here. In the late 1980s, a young man brought a gun to a local junior high and caused plenty of commotion and chaos.

However, things ended peacefully.

How would that school gun situation have ended if teachers in this city were carrying?

Chances are, not great for anybody.

Shooting a gunman isn’t exactly why anyone gets into teaching.

In 2002, Corner Brook received a scare when a pair of teenagers made plans to shoot up Herdman Collegiate. They didn’t and were thwarted in their plot, but it begs the question about much more damage a teacher with a weapon would’ve caused if they pair had gotten that far.

We’re not immune to school shootings in Canada, however. There have been a dozen or so since the 1970s.

So, where is this going? It’s simple, really. Guns don’t belong in the classroom.

Give teachers pens, pencils and the resources to curb students from seeking a rifle to settle their differences.

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