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The humongous popularity of frightening, even horrific films proves how much regular citizens enjoy being scared. But they also want to know they’ll be safe when the lights come on—or the stream ends. Some will tell you firearms are fun to shoot—the bigger, the better. But people who’ve experienced battle in which they weren’t the only ones with powerful weapons—so they could be victims—can affirm that fun is counterbalanced by the second rationale for guns: fear. Being the only one capable of blasting something or someone into bits is more fun than the prospect of being torn apart. (Of course, some immature people don’t have a realistic concept of their own mortality.)
Fear of being mutilated or eaten has been a strong motivator for guns since people first encountered predators better equipped for the encounter than they were. How much fire power is necessary to level the field? Statistics prove that many people who keep guns at home for protection are more likely to be shot with their own weapons by an intruder, family members, or themselves than they are to be heroes who save the day. The fact is they don’t know when to be ready and aren’t trained or perpetually alert for sudden threats. Bad guys don’t arrive at a politely specified appointment like HIGH NOON.
People who want guns for defense—such as armed teachers or armed security guards—face one inescapable fact: they don’t know when trouble is coming or what it will look like. My husband who spent many years in law enforcement refused off-duty work as a bank guard. He would be armed, as always. But bank robbers would be able to single him out as a target without effort. He’d be the one wearing the uniform. He might not be able to spot them and they’d be prepared.
As a former teacher, the idea of being armed in class doesn’t comfort me. Imagine a teacher facing a room that may hold 20-30 squirming kids of whatever age. The teacher is working hard to present new material in a way that will make it memorable while inconspicuously helping the students who need extra assistance and keeping the very quick students challenged. The teacher is already up against differing attention spans, residual emotions from whatever happened to each individual before class, and the social dynamics of the group. Let’s assume this teacher is well trained in the use of firearms and has a weapon locked in the desk. Why locked? Because there are 20-30 curious young people in the room who believe in the fantasies of Marvel Comics. Eventually, the teacher has to step out for a moment—for example, a medical emergency, irate parent, or student fight. Certainly there could be no student who has the skills to jimmy the lock open? (Have you met today’s kids?) Of course, a weapon secreted in a shoulder holster would be impossible for a student to dislodge. (Talk to someone in law enforcement about this.)
A shooter enters the school. What kind of weapon does the teacher have? Remember the problems of school budgets? Or the issue of storage? What about substitute teachers? Or faulty judgement? Paralyzing fear? There’s an old, old saying: Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. The rapidity and ability to utterly destroy the anatomy a weapon like an assault rifle provides makes lesser guns look like butter knives. The potentials of the onslaught are so terrifying that trained armed guards often quake at the prospect of a face-off and retreat, leaving the victims to their fate. Better to be branded a coward than to have your head blown off your shoulders. And now, the teacher—who’s easy to spot in a classroom—is a simple target to single out before the mass carnage begins.
Those who manipulate the masses using fear promise an approaching Civil War or invasion that will require the Joneses to be armed to the teeth in order to defend their homes. Consider the example we have in Ukraine where the people knew attacks were coming and prepared themselves as best they could, creating soldiers from volunteers and distributing weapons from their armories. Even with the backing of industrial powers (bringing a rocket to a gun fight), the country and its citizens are suffering terribly. Having a gun doesn’t guarantee you aren’t going to die. In fact, your weapon makes you a high priority target. Those of us who grew up in a time when as children we worried most over the prospect of pimples feel overwhelming sympathy for today’s terrified American society.