Fear of the unknown

When I was a child, my late mother was well-nigh paranoid about electricity. I’m reminded of her every time I stick a knife in a toaster to retrieve a slice of toast too small to stick out the top after the toaster pops.

“Don’t stick a knife in a toaster!”

Well, no. Not while it’s, like, toasting things and those little heating elements are brimming with electricicals. The heating filaments are very fragile when they’re red hot and you might break one. Or something else bad might even happen, like getting a 110v “bite,” which is unpleasant. If you’re in a swimming pool at the time, it could be even worse.* But I’m not going to let the toast get cold while I go retrieve some insulator with which to go toast-fishing.

I think of my mother, too, when I think of guns. I learned decades later that she was petrified because, unknown to us children, my late father had acquired a handgun after being physically attacked by someone who intended to cause him severe bodily harm for helping some employer who was dealing with a union. This also may explain why solicitations from the National Right to Work Committee continued coming, addressed to him, for years after his death, and why my first recollection of the word “union” was adjectival, modifying “goon.” (My own views, for what it’s worth, include that the pendulum has swung too far toward the business of business, and away from unions, the business of representing workers.)

I don’t think, though, that my mother would have had any problem with some selected teachers in my school bearing concealed weapons against the remote prospect of someone, bearing unconcealed weapons, trying to do children harm within the school’s hallowed halls. Her fear was of snoopy children finding a gun hidden in home and becoming one of those sad stories in the newspaper.

Anyway, I can’t shake the idea that it might be a good idea to allow selected teachers to arm themselves, and to let it be known that such is the status quo in a school district.

At least one school superintendent and his board — in Texas, unsurprisingly — agree with me:

The program was simple: The school board would individually approve school employees who already held state concealed handgun licenses to participate in the program and the district would provide them with extra training. (In 2007, the district engaged a private consultant to develop additional training; in 2013, I worked with the Texas legislature to develop and pass Senate Bill 1857, which created a school safety certification course that could be utilized by schools opting to employ programs similar to ours — Harrold ISD Guardians are scheduled to complete this certification in the near future.) The names of our Guardians are kept confidential and they are paid a small yearly stipend in addition to their regular salaries to have them carry concealed handguns at school.

[W]e believed that if the shooter had thought it likely, or even just possible, that someone might be there to return fire, he would have been hesitant to move forward …

The participants’ anonymity is key to our program; no one in the general public knows the identity of the Guardian Plan team members. We don’t release numbers, but at all times there is an armed school employee, or employees, on site. Experts note that mass-shooting perpetrators look for “soft” targets — places not protected by anyone who can effectively resist attack. If a person planning an assault knows that he may meet resistance, he’s less likely to attempt to attack that venue.

I floated the idea on Facebook (without the Texas example, which I had not yet known of) and got a lot of push-back from teachers, some of whom said they’d resign if they knew that unidentified colleagues had concealed handguns with the school board’s blessing.

I don’t get that. There were no explanations proffered by those teachers, just hypothetical ultimatums in response to my hypothetical scenario.

If any reader of this blog has an explanation of the badness of my idea, I’d be glad to hear it. Just know that when the topic is deterrence, I’m skeptical of generalizations about whether guns are more likely to shoot bad guys or loved ones when actually discharged.

I’ve got some “skin in the game,” too. Though I was a Conscientious Objector and am generally pacific, I do believe in the right of self-defense, and nobody beyond a tiny circle knows how armed or disarmed my home is.

Care to try breaking in to find out?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to talk about such things, would we?

Does anyone live there?


* This is not a course on electrical safety, of course. I may have understated the risks. But I’ve been bit by 110v several times, and I have a friend who closed a circuit of 440v, I think, in an institutional kitchen (and somehow survived).

* * * * *

The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.

(Sir James Fitzjames Stephen)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

(Philip K. Dick)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Where I glean stuff.