The very stable genius wants schools to lock and load

President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with high school students, teachers, and others

President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with high school students, teachers, and others in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

So Trump wants to arm the teachers, to militarize the schools. Naturally, he plucked that beaut straight from the NRA playbook.

His meetup yesterday with visiting Floridians was billed as a listening session — “we hear you” was listed #5 on his handwritten cheat sheet of talking points — but he eventually hijacked it, firing bursts of NRA bloviation. For instance: “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly”

You had to feel bad for those kids, teachers, and parents, because there was no way they’d get substantive help from an empty vessel.  Trump won’t do anything to tick off his Second Amendment masters. His primary aim yesterday was to placate the bereaved by offering nutrition-free word salads: “There are many different ideas. Some, I guess are good. Some aren’t good … a lot of people think they work, and some are less so.” And when it became necessary to offer something specific, he simply mouthed the gun lobby’s tattered catechisms.

Arming teachers is an ole reliable. And what a convenient boon it would be for the gun manufacturers. They live in fear that gun reforms could flatten their sales, whereas teachers would be a whole new market. Plus, that would shift responsibility away from the people who crank out weapons of war, and put the security burden on the pointy-headed educators. If teachers were to join the Well-Regulated Militia, if they could be trained to combine book learnin’ with eternal vigilance, if they could learn to love their muscular exercise of academic freedom, Republican lawmakers and their Leader could continue to rake in their NRA money and hew to the NRA line. Problem solved!

I suppose I have a stake in that stupid idea, since I happen to inhabit classrooms on a regular basis. Aside from the fact that I’d resent being the last line of defense for the gun companies’ handiwork, there are practical issues. I already spend enough hours preparing for each meetup, and the last thing I need is to ensure that I’ve loaded and holstered my structural plastic Glock with the short recoil.

What if there was gunplay in the hall, prompting me to flex my Second Amendment muscle, prompting other teachers to do the same, promoting the campus cops to show up in force. How would they sort the good guys from the bad guys? When Arizona lawmakers pitched an arm-the-teachers bill in 2011, the police chief at the state university asked that very question. Maybe my best solution would be to distribute white caps on the first day of class, and require that everyone wear the caps (as would I), so that if trouble were to occur, the responding cops would know that I’m a good guy with a gun, and that any armed students (who might bring guns because they know I’ve brought mine) were the good guys too.

I say that only half in jest. Education leaders, on this subject, are rightfully jest-free.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said yesterday: “Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms …. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.” And the American Federation of Teachers said: “It’s time for politicians to value children over the gun lobby.” They were joined on Twitter by Dr. Eugene Gu, a surgical resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center: Bringing more guns into schools “is like saying the solution to lung cancer is to smoke more cigarettes.”

None of this is new. Four years ago, there was a surge of interest in arming teachers; 30 state legislatures weighed bills. Most of those bills died (although seven red states now allow arming), because people with brains talked sense.

The president of the National School Safety and Security Services said: “Suggesting that by providing staff with 8, 16, 40, or even 60 hours of firearms training on firing, handling, and holstering a gun somehow makes a non-law enforcement officer suddenly qualified to provide public safety services is a high risk to the safety of students, teachers, and other school staff.” And a school safety expert with the National Association of Secondary School Principals said: “Teachers are in schools to teach. When you ask them to be security guards, you are distracting them from their jobs. Not one minute of the school day will go by when that teacher isn’t thinking about that weapon he or she is carrying. And what kind of message are we sending the kids? Educators are often their ultimate role model. Some students may think that carrying a weapon is the right thing to do.”

And 30 scientific studies have concluded that more guns leads to more violence, although the stats and graphs will persuade only those Americans who still believe in science.

As for Trump, he doesn’t believe anything in particular — during the 2016 campaign, he said he didn’t want guns brought into the classroom — but he does know what the gun lobby wants. It wants to protect the availability of assault weapons, so yesterday he never raised the issue. The lobby wants to sustain the 22-year-old federal ban on gun violence research, so yesterday he never proposed lifting it. But because the lobby wants more guns in schools — as NRA maestro Wayne LaPierre said today, “Schools must be the most hardened targets in the country” – Trump is all in.

And now that he’s been freed from all those tears and tissues, he’s back on Twitter today with empathy for his true constituency, the one that gave him $30 million in 2016:  “What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that…the folks who work so hard at the NRA re Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Yesterday he told the Floridians, “We’re going to do something about this horrible situation that’s going on.” Yeah sure. Not with him we won’t.

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