Columns | Kane County Chronicle

Holinger: Armed with passion, talent and commitment: that’s enough to ask

If I’m an elementary, middle or high school student and I overhear my teacher say, “I’m locked and loaded,” I hope she means, “My door is locked and I’m loaded with lesson plans.”

If instead I see her point to her waist where a Glock 26 G5 Front Serrations 9mm Luger 3.43 in Black nDLC Pistol – 10+1 Rounds fits snugly in a Flint minimalist fold-over holster with Biothane Super-Flex webbing loops, well, that’s another matter.

Some unimaginative politicians believe arming teachers ranks up there with a good idea. I can see it now: showing up for an afternoon of professional development and instead of pedagogical nuances and technological advances, firearm instructors demonstrate lock and load, aim and fire, duck and dive.

Frankly, anyone naïve enough to believe guns in classrooms (where else? a locked cabinet in the basement?) is a good idea has not spent much time in high school to experience what 13- to 18-years-old might do on a dare, to impress their friend(s) or lover(s) or to get their high-jinks on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

There’s no concealing a gun from students; they’ll know if their instructors are carrying and all it takes is a minor distraction (a staged fight, faux tears, etc.) to take the weapon from them.

Who knows what would happen next.

But students aren’t the only ones who might fire a pistol accidentally or without thinking it through. Have you ever seen teachers, administrators, coaches or counselors lose it with colleagues, students? If not, you haven’t spent enough time on campus.

A number of years ago, informal discussions focused on the possibility of arming teachers in the secondary school where I taught. A retired police officer argued against the practice. If a guy proficient with the use and abuse of firearms believes even he should not carry, that’s a decision that carries some weight.

Surely he knows, as seen in recent horrific videos, cops lose it, too. And a school setting can be as frustrating, maddening, stressful and anxiety-producing as the streets. The raw emotions are there – ask teachers today how rancorous and frustrated they feel about the many (added) demands incorporated over the past few years! They’re spent.

In fact, an incredible 48% of teachers are thinking of switching careers next year, and only 31% of current teachers would recommend going into the profession (teacherspayteachers.com).

But some states already have laws permitting teacher carry, with only a safety catch and a trigger pull away from a lethal explosion.

Oh, and those School Resource Officers hired to prevent mass shootings? Education Week (edweek.org 11/16/21) reported 1 in 5 SROs said they lacked sufficient training to work in schools, and a mere 39% were trained in child trauma.

On “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (6/5/22), the host presented research showing the possibility for violence actually increases with an SRO on campus, and the ACLU of Washington (5/24/21) points out “SROs have not prevented or stopped mass shootings,” citing a study finding “none of the [25 school shootings] were ended by armed officers. ... Rather, the shooter was restrained by unarmed staff or decided to stop.”

If someone blames his back pain on his doctor and decides to shoot him, or if someone takes revenge on his employer and decides to shoot him, immediate access to a firearm makes the decision deadlier. Teachers and police officers, no matter how much training they receive, have accidents and will do things they never imagined themselves capable of.

Not you? No? Where do you work?

• Rick Holinger’s writing has appeared in more than a hundred literary journals. He holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from UIC and facilitates the Geneva library’s Night Writers Workshop. His poetry book “North of Crivitz” and essay collection “Kangaroo Rabbits and Galvanized Fences” are available at local bookstores, Amazon or richardholinger.net. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.