Vol. XVII, No. 195, March 2018

​​Trumpian Solution to Gun Violence in
Schools: Arm Teachers with Guns 

By M. P. Prabhakaran

Students staged a “lie-in” outside the White House on February 19, 2018. This is part of the protest demonstrations they have been conducting around the U.S. since the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives. Their goal is to promote gun control reform. According to the National Rifles Association and other gun rights advocates, the students are being manipulated by liberals to exploit the Parkland tragedy and take away thier constitutional rigt to bear arms. (The picture is reproduced courtesy The New York Times. Picture Credit: Zach Gibson/Getty Images.)

President Donald Trump’s genius for saying stupid things, even in the face of great tragedies, is by now known to all. Maybe he has begun to realize it himself. That could be the reason why he decided to carry a cue card – no, it was a piece of paper with empathetic messages scribbled on it – while interacting with survivors, and relatives of victims, of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooting by a deranged student of the school, which occurred on February 14, 2018, claimed the lives of 14 students and three adults.
It was so gracious of Mr. Trump that he invited those affected by both the Parkland shooting and by school shootings before that to the White House and listened to their woes and angry outbursts. And guided by the scribbled notes, he also uttered words that were appropriate for the occasion – words like: “I know you’ve been through a lot”; “All I can say is that we’re fighting hard for you, and we will not stop”; “I grieve for you”; and so on.
Regrettably, the February 21 White House event is remembered not for those empathetic words he uttered. It is remembered for the controversy he stirred by using the event to pitch his own idea of how to prevent gun violence in schools. His idea is to allow teachers and other educators to carry concealed weapons.
In fact, the idea is not his. He has only been recycling and repeating what was enunciated and popularized by Wayne LaPierre, the obnoxious executive vice president of the National Rifles Association (N.R.A.). According to the N.R.A. chief, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” The first time he articulated this laughable theory was in the wake of another campus shooting, by another deranged person: the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. Since then he has been repeating it at every opportunity he gets. Arming teachers stemmed from that theory and and he made it a campaign theme for the N.R.A.  
Trump Is Peddling the N.R.A. Line

Mr. Trump, who owes his election as president partly to the support he received from the N.R.A., has been enthusiastically peddling the theme ever since, and none is surprised by that. What has surprised most people is that he did the latest peddling at a gathering of those who were mourning the loss of lives of their dear ones to Parkland, Sandy Hook and other shootings; and those who were still reeling from the trauma they suffered witnessing the carnage at Parkland.
Despicably, he continued the peddling the next day, both at the second White House meeting, the one of law enforcement, state and local officials, which he convened to explore various ways of preventing school shootings; and via Twitter, the medium he is most comfortable with. In Mr. Trump’s twisted thinking, “a ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people.” His stupidity hit a new low when he tweeted that the knowledge that teachers have guns of their own would deter “the sicko” from heading to a school in the first place. He did it even as it was being reported that a sheriff’s deputy who had been the only armed guard present at the scene of the Parkland shooting resigned after surveillance video showed him looking for cover to save himself when students were being mowed down.
Even a person with minimal education and average intelligence knows that a “sicko” is one who doesn’t think rationally. He is a deranged person who doesn’t think of the consequences of his action. So, when the president of the United States, who never tires of boasting of his superior intelligence and education, says that the mere awareness that teachers are carrying guns would scare a “sicko” away, it evokes derisive laughter.
The same day Mr. Trump tweeted this, the N.R.A. chief repeated his “shibboleth” (courtesy The New York Times) with a slight variation: “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” He did it at a gathering of conservative activists. “Actually, it’s hard to tell who was parroting whom,” The Times says in its February 22 editorial.
Here is something Mr. Trump may want to ponder over: No country in the world possesses more deadly weapons than the U.S. does. Has the awareness of that stopped terrorists around the world from attacking the U.S. and U.S. interests? Terrorists are in the category of “the sicko” Mr. Trump tweeted about. They are prepared to die for what their sick minds think is right.

In carrying a weapon to the class, a teacher is indirectly conveying to his students that he is afraid of them, that he views them as his enemies. Is that the kind of student-teacher relationship Mr. Trump wants to build in the country he presides over?
The only consolation here is that Mr. Trump’s (read N.R.A.’s) idea of arming teachers has been rejected by an overwhelming majority in the country. At the forefront of those who did it are teachers and other educators themselves. “Even in gun-friendly locales like rural Indiana, teachers reacted with alarm to Mr. Trump’s plan,” says a New York Times report. Opposition also came from the leaders of large school districts. “The mere thought that teachers should be armed in order to ward off violence is utterly illogical and will only result in making our students and teachers less safe,” The Times quotes Tommy Chang, the superintendent of Boston Public Schools, as saying. “The real issue at hand continues to be access to guns.”
I wish Mr. Trump had half the maturity and commonsense of 18-year-old Samuel Zeif, who was one of the survivors of the Parkland shooting and one of those who vented their grievances at the February 21 While House meeting. “I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an A-R,” he is quoted as saying in the Times report on the event.
When the paper says that the “best way to prevent the threat of a bad guy with a gun is to keep him from getting the sort of battlefield weapon the Parkland killer used, by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and by tightening background checks" (“Let the Teachers Teach,” Times editorial, February 22, 2018), it is echoing the sentiments expressed by this 18-year-old student. And he did not read it from a cue card or scribbled notes. He spoke from his heart.



President Trump held a card, with notes on how to express basic motions scribbled on it, during a White House event held on February 21, 2018. He had invited to the White House survivors, and relatives of victims, of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and let them pour out their woes and anger. (The picture is reproduced courtesy Tom Brenner/The New York Times.)​​​

(First Published on March 1, 2018. It has since been slightly edited.)

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