A few things have caught my eye in the past week or so that make me wonder about the future, but in the interest of preserving your sanity, I’ll only share two of them today.
In Wyoming, there is a bill making its way through the state legislature that would raise the legal age to marry to 18, or 16 with parental consent. Now, you might think this is a no-brainer, but it is under attack by the Wyoming GOP who claim it interferes with parental and religious rights. Say WHAT???
According to one legislator …
“The more power we give government to interfere in people’s lives and tell them what they can and can’t do the less liberty we have. I’m here and I was elected because I stand for liberty.”
Currently there are eight states in the nation without a minimum age requirement for marriage. Unimaginable! But I also found that Massachusetts has the lowest minimum marriage ages with parental consent of 12 for girls and 14 for boys. I am flabbergasted! So, let me get this straight – it’s not okay for children to even hear the word ‘gay’, or learn about Black history, but it’s fine and dandy for them to get married and start spitting out babies before they can even spell the word ‘catastrophe’???
The Wyoming Republican Party sent a letter to constituents saying that preventing children under 16 years old from marrying “denies the fundamental purpose of marriage,” robbing teen parents from the ability to remain together under one roof for any children they might bear together.
Need I say more? 🙄
In Indiana, the state legislature thinks it has the perfect solution to counter school shootings: more guns in schools!!! Yep, folks, the Indiana House recently passed a bill that would provide funding to train teachers who carry guns in classrooms. WRONG ANSWER!!!
Is this a classic case of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”???
I’ve written on this topic before, so I’ll keep it short. The solution is reducing the number of guns in the hands of civilians, demanding strict background checks and annual licensing, forbidding guns in certain public venues, etc. Adding more guns is only asking for more trouble … it is a recipe for disaster. Teachers are not police officers, nor do we want them to be. They are there to teach our children the things they need to know to become well-rounded adults, but how can they do that if they have to be constantly on the alert for somebody who looks like maybe they are up to no good and ought to be shot?
And then, there’s the accident factor. It isn’t a ‘maybe’, but rather a certainty that if teachers are armed in the classroom, there will be accidents. The gun will be left in an unlocked drawer or on a desk, and a kid who’s angry at another kid, or maybe at the teacher, will get their hands on it, and … BANG!!!
Just last week, a school superintendent in Texas took his gun out of its holster while using the bathroom and forgot to retrieve it as he left. A third-grade student found the gun a short time later and luckily was so scared he immediately ran to tell his teacher, without touching the gun. But what if …
House members passed the bill 71-24. All the ‘no’ votes came from Democrats — what a surprise, eh? The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.
There are so damn many issues to claim our attention and concern today that it seems something important is always falling by the wayside. There are some things, though, that we simply cannot afford to lose sight of – climate change, the threats to democracy, the ‘dumbing-down’ of education, the pandemic that is still a pandemic, and our massive gun problem. Speaking of the gun crisis … I have looked at the ‘bi-partisan’ agreement in Congress and said, “pbthhhh … it has no teeth.” In my book, it is even less than the very minimum I would expect or demand, were I in a position to make demands. It is the Republican’s attempt to placate us, to shut us up, to brag that they took our concerns seriously, when they don’t at all. Did you know that according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 59% favor curbing gun violence, while 35% do not. That includes 92% of Democrats in favor, along with 54% of independents. However, “70% of Republicans say it’s more important to protect gun rights.”
Yesterday, Paul Waldman published an OpEd in The Washington Post that echoes my own sentiments on the topic …
More guns in schools, and everywhere else? Have we gone mad?
There’s nothing like a massacre of elementary school children to get the attention of lawmakers, who will be eager to show they’re at least willing to pretend to do something about the gun carnage we Americans endure. But while Democratic states often respond to mass shootings by passing new gun restrictions, Republican states tend to pass laws loosening regulations, driven by the psychotic idea that protecting us from gun violence requires getting more guns in more places.
While there are some glimmers of hope — senators might soon agree on a few worthwhile things on guns — we might emerge from this moment realizing that the flurry of lawmaking after the latest mass shootings took us to an even darker place.
If you want a hint of the dystopian future that might await us, look no further than a bill Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed into law Monday.
The new law’s guiding principle seems to be that we should turn every school into an armed camp as quickly as possible. The law lowers the amount of training required for a teacher to go armed in Ohio from around 700 hours down to 24 hours. According to its text, teacher training must include “at least four hours of training in scenario-based or simulated training exercises.” Four whole hours!
Think for a moment about your schoolteachers, or your children’s teachers. Maybe a few were past their prime and not as enthusiastic as they used to be. Some were young and idealistic, devoted to the well being of children. Some were brilliant; all had a difficult and stressful job.
But I’ll bet none of them were Jason Bourne, were they?
This is the world Republicans want us to live in, where every spasm of deadly violence is met with what is essentially a military response. If we face a threat from guns, we should get more guns and put them in more people’s hands. If there’s a school shooting, it means schools are “soft targets” that we must harden. Then we’ll do the same to stores and parks and synagogues and churches and mosques — and everywhere else we gather.
It’s a tribute to the GOP’s political and communication skills that it can take any idea, no matter how deranged — we have mass shootings because schools have too many doors! — and push it right to the heart of the discussion. Yes, we could theoretically turn your neighborhood elementary school into something like a supermax prison, but what would that do to the children inside?
We already have a clue from the proliferation of active-shooter lockdown drills in recent years. Meant to tell students that “this will keep you safe,” instead it told them that “this is the nightmare you live in now.” Over and over, they were told to live in fear, that a violent death was their possible future. In some cases, officials have organized simulated attacks where murders were acted out; as one teacher said, “I felt more traumatized than trained.”
We simply don’t know what kind of effects members of this lockdown generation will carry with them. But we’re apparently going to keep subjecting more and more kids to it — better that than force anyone to suffer any minor inconvenience when purchasing their arsenal of deadly weapons.
That’s certainly how the Republicans who control the state legislature in Ohio feel. On the same day DeWine signed that bill, another one he signed took effect. This one enacts “permitless carry,” meaning almost anyone is allowed to carry a gun almost anywhere in the state — no license or training required.
If almost anyone in Ohio could be carrying a gun, shouldn’t the teachers have guns? And if the teachers have guns, shouldn’t the students have guns? Perhaps we should discuss whether a 5-year-old’s constitutional right to bear arms is being infringed if they can’t pack a Glock in their lunchbox.
What we have here is a profound disagreement about what it means for a place to feel, and to be, “safe.” You can weld shut the doors and windows, fill the school with armed personnel and make the kids think every day about their deaths, and you will have achieved a kind of “safety.” But it’s a poisonous kind, one that will terrorize every child who enters there.
Unfortunately, we’re going to see a lot of that in the near future, because “hardening” schools is one of the only ideas Republicans will agree to in response to mass shootings. Money for “school safety” will be in the bipartisan gun bill (if it passes), and states will offer the same, so Republicans can say they responded to the endless wave of mass shootings.
Heaven forbid we should say someone has to be 21 years old to buy a military-style rifle designed to kill as many human beings as possible in the shortest amount of time. But if your school wants a grant to install more metal detectors? Step right up.
And Mrs. O’Neill, the kindly librarian at the elementary school? Put a gun in her hand. That’ll make everyone safe, won’t it?
I apologize for yet another piece on guns so soon after the last one, but … folks, this is important. I had a comment after my last piece from a teacher who said, “As a teacher, this is such a heavy and personal topic. This post actually made me chuckle because your tone and approach was so funny. Thank you for your message. I will be sharing this with teacher friends. It’s a hard time to be a teacher right now but it’s encouraging to get online and see people advocating for smart, sustainable solutions for our classrooms. Keep up with these posts! 👍 Get the word out 😌” That comment made me think that maybe I’m doing something right.
Wednesday was exactly two weeks after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, many of them students. In the wake of that tragedy, Donald Trump and others in the school of “more guns make us safer” decided that it would be a wonderful idea to arm teachers nationwide. That’s right, in fact at one point, Trump proposed that every single teacher and coach be required to carry a firearm. After an outcry from the nation’s teachers, he backed down a bit and said that perhaps only a core group of around 20 teachers in each school would carry weapons, and that would be a deterrent to any would-be gunman.
At the time, I said I could picture any number of nightmarish scenarios with teachers losing their tempers and shooting students, students grabbing the gun and either playfully or maliciously shooting their classmates, an altercation between students and the teacher tries to resolve it with threat of a gun that just happens to go off because the teacher is not a trained firearms expert. So many things could go wrong, and in the nature of Murphy’s Law, they will.
I did not expect to see my prophesy fulfilled quite so quickly, but on Wednesday, at Dalton High School in Dalton, Georgia, a teacher barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a single shot. Nobody was injured and there were no students in the classroom at the time, but still … think of what could have happened.
The social studies teacher, one Jesse Randal Davidson, had a history of problematic behaviour.
Just over a year ago, school employees and a police officer began searching Dalton High School after Davidson went missing. He was finally found sitting on the curb along a street a few blocks from the campus, being propped up by two school staff members.
In 2016, Davidson walked into the lobby of the Dalton police headquarters and told a wild story including his suspicions that someone had been murdered. Detectives couldn’t verify that any of it was true, and he was taken to the hospital since he’d expressed thoughts of hurting himself.
So, the man obviously had a history of mental health issues, yet he was able to continue teaching children and carrying a weapon? This story might have gone unnoticed except by a few local Daltonites, had it not been that the nation is still reeling from the February 14th mass shooting in Parkland, and the aftermath … the fierce battle over gun regulation and whether arming teachers is the solution (hint: it isn’t).
Donald Trump and the NRA leadership ascribe to the “good guy with a gun” theory which says, in essence, that if everybody had guns, we would all be safer. If you are easily offended, please don’t read my next comment. BULLSHIT! The only thing that is going to keep us all safer, especially our children, is fewer guns in the hands of civilians. Period.
The majority of teachers do not want to carry a gun and be responsible to use it to stop a shooter – they would far rather protect their charges by herding them to a safer place. An inexperienced teacher holding a gun against somebody with an assault rifle is simply adding more fuel to the fire and leaving the students even more vulnerable. I imagine that Donald Trump has never in his life faced somebody with a gun pointed at him, and would likely soil himself if he ever did, so he only knows what he sees on television, not reality.
The fundamental problem in the US is there are so many guns already in circulation. Here are a few eye-opening statistics:
Americans own 48%, nearly half, of all the civilian-owned guns in the world
There are, on average, 89 guns privately owned for every 100 people in the U.S. No other country in the world has such a high per capita rate – the next is Yemen with 55 per 100
70% of Americans have fired a gun at some point in their life
44% of U.S. adults say they personally know someone who has been shot
66% of gun owners in the U.S. own multiple firearms
Male gun owners average age when they first fired a gun is 12 years; for females it is 17 years
Why don’t we hear about school shootings in the UK or Germany? Is it because all their teachers are ‘packing heat’? Nope … please allow me to bore you with some more statistics:
In the United Kingdom, access by the general public to firearms is tightly controlled by law. The country has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world (0.06 per 100,000 people).
Germany’s weapons laws are among the world’s strictest and the use of guns for private self-defense is restricted. Gun homicides? 0.07 per 100,000 people.
The U.S. holds less than 5% of the world’s population, yet accounts for 31% of the world’s mass shooters
Gun homicide rates are more than 25% higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations. Total gun homicides … 3.43 per 100,000 people.
Now think about this one for just a second. We have more guns per capita than any other nation, and we have more gun homicides per capita than any other nation. Hmmmm … do you think that maybe, just possibly, there might be a connection?
I could go on a tear about why guns in the hands of civilians – any civilians – is a really bad idea, but I won’t, for my main purpose today is to make a firm stand against placing guns in the hands of school teachers and expecting them to be proficient and stop a killer. Ain’t going to happen, folks. More children will just die, that is the only possible outcome.
Frankly, if I had a school-age child or grandchild today, I would be homeschooling them. And if I had the wherewithal, I would no longer be living in the ‘United’ States, in part because of the proliferation of firearms. Worried about terrorism by immigrants from Muslim countries? Don’t be … they aren’t the ones killing our children … we are.
There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away