DONALD LEE SHEPPARD FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I am old enough to recall the shooting of President Ronald Reagan in March, 1981. For those who weren't around at the time, here's a fact you should know:
President Reagan was accompanied by four armed men, all trained to respond to an attack on the Commander in Chief and dedicated to take a bullet for him if necessary. Reagan and his entourage were in the open air, on a Washington street. We can assume his security detail remained as alert as possible to any hint of danger. Yet a young man infatuated with a Hollywood movie star shot Reagan and two other men. He wanted to shoot the President as a token of his love for her. Which is as good a motive as any other armed madman has had.
Fortunately, all three victims survived, and Ronald Reagan went on to serve two full terms as President
Do you suppose Donald Trump knows about this?
I ask because one response to the tragedies of Parkland and Sandy Hook is to insist that teachers be armed. Teachers are people who dream of opening young minds to the world, sharing the delight of eyes sparkling with the beauty of discovery and the laughter of innocence. They never dream that their profession may require them to pack a Glock in their purse or a Smith & Wesson in their desk.
Surely that idea is the woozy product of a muddled mind. Alas, it is a serious proposal from the current occupant of the White House.
But if four armed and alert Secret Service and law enforcement officers were not able to stop John Hinkley Jr. from burying a bullet in President Reagan's chest, how in the name of Wyatt Earp can we expect my daughter to take down a madman armed with an assault rifle in her own classroom?
My daughter, you see, is a teacher. She teaches third grade in an inner-city school in New England, working with children hungry to escape poverty and its hardships. There is no better means of assisting children to fulfill every promise in life than an education and a sense of self-worth. That's what teachers are for. That is the only thing they should be for.
Teaching these children is my daughter's choice. With an undergraduate degree from Duke and a Master's degree from Harvard, she might be cozy in an Ivy League prep school or on a laid-back Southern California campus. But those places didn't need her, she believed, as much as kids for whom life is more challenge than achievement. You didn't ask me, but I am immensely proud of her.
Donald Trump wants her to carry a weapon. And know how to use it. And be prepared to aim it at another human being. And pull the trigger and watch the blood spurt. The thought both chills and angers me.
I am not being melodramatic. I am realistic. I am remembering the day in 2016 when an armed man ambushed an entire squad of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five of them and wounding nine others.
They were police officers, armed with weapons they were trained and encouraged to fire when they encountered danger. These men were at least as well trained and dedicated as Reagan's security detail. In the parlance of the NRA, they were good guys with guns. Defeated by one bad guy with a gun.
Look, if a crazy person with a gun charges my daughter's school, I don't want her and a couple of other teachers gripping their pistols in shaky hands and aiming at a cool assailant through sweaty eyes. I want a whole damn platoon of G.I.s on hand to take the shooter out.
Or better still: I don't want armed shooters of any kind around. These are schools, not killing fields. Teachers should be armed with more social services, more counseling and more community support. Not guns. Especially not semi-automatic weapons in the hands of madmen.
Which leads me to suspect that talk about arming teachers whose primary interest is explaining long division or sentence structure to young kids has little to do with safety and much to do with boosting sales for gun manufacturers and their distributors.
Am I exaggerating? Consider this:
There are about 40,000 public and private schools in the U.S. Assume an average of four weapons are distributed to each school for use by selected teachers. How much would it cost to purchase a quality reliable handgun for each? At least $500. Plus ammunition and other incidentals. Do the math.
And how much would this serve to protect my daughter and your children and grandchildren?
About as much as Ronald Reagan's professional security squad did for him.