Commentary

Schoolteacher, editorial blast lawmakers for negligence on gun violence

Be sure to check out a pair of “must reads” this morning regarding the criminally negligent approach toward gun violence taken by state legislative leaders.

The first is Forsyth County schoolteacher Brooks Jones’ fine op-ed over on the main Policy Watch website. As Jones observes in “A gun in my classroom? No thanks.” there are multiple reasons not to arm schoolteachers, but the main one is how it would alter her relationship with students:

“Teachers know a positive classroom environment is based on trust. My students trust me to treat them fairly, provide a safe place for them to learn and make mistakes, conduct myself in a predictable and professional manner, and provide instruction that educates and enriches. I am not the only teacher who also provides food when students are hungry, a supportive ear and shoulder to cry on when they want to share their troubles, and resources for their families during a crisis. A gun in my classroom destroys all of that. The ever-present existence of a deadly weapon delivers an implicit threat, and some oppressive questions: “What will happen in this room leading up to the use of the gun? Is it going to happen today?” And worst of all: “Can I trust Ms. Jones to keep us safe instead of using the gun on us?”

The second comes from today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record “Youth who took on shooters rightly hailed as heroes; do-nothing politicians, not so much.” Here’s an excerpt:

“There is something very wrong with our country when young students confronting gunmen have more courage than their elected leaders.

Twice in the span of a week, we saw dramatic news stories about a young person saving lives of his fellow students by rushing a shooter at their school….

It’s right to honor the heroes who bravely sacrifice their lives. But how much better it would be — for them, their families and everyone — if they weren’t placed in the awful position of deciding whether to fight a killer.

How much better it would be if our children weren’t growing up fearful of gunmen at their schools? How much better it would be if our politicians could muster more courage in standing up to the gun lobby? There’s talk of tougher gun laws. And then the talk fades, usually with little or no real change. Lawmakers in many states, including North Carolina, try to come up with ways to make schools safer: training, more police officers in schools, mental health initiatives, tip lines and the like.

But more often than not, they either steer clear of an essential problem — the ready availability of guns — or can’t reach agreement on gun control. In North Carolina, the Republican majority in the General Assembly is still trying to weaken restrictions on guns, and no gun-control bills have advanced in the legislature this year….

Granted, new laws won’t solve all the problems in a society already full of guns. But some changes could help. Enacting and enforcing stiff penalties for failing to store guns safely is one. “Red flag” bills to remove guns from the homes of youths and others identified as troubled make sense.

We have to start somewhere, don’t we?

Or are we just going to leave it to our children to protect themselves?

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