13-1 bright ideas

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.


A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

13.1 (Winter 2013)






Save Our Children: Arm the Custodian and the Math Teacher

We break somewhat with our usual format in allowing the anonymous contributor self-styled Pancratistes to publish here a piece possessing more of the editorial than the suggestion.  The atroctiiy committed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, however, justifies a departure from the routine.  The editors believe that these are fair and worthy suggestions in response to those horrid events, regardless of what political assumptions the reader may import.

The need for private citizens to be armed with AK 47’s is far less clear to the American public—even those of us who keep a revolver close to our bed—than the need to defend oneself, one’s property, and one’s family against home invaders.  The two “needs” are not identical, or not to most of us.  I for one would hate to open up with the equivalent of a machine gun on a shadow in the dark after hearing a downstairs window shatter.  Too many bullets would go astray—some of them, perhaps, to find a resting place in a neighbor’s bedroom or nursery.  Inasmuch as the objective at this tense moment would be to diffuse the threat to my family’s safety, scaring off the intruder would be an entirely acceptable outcome.  A single round would probably do this, even if it ended up between the eyes of a portrait hanging on the wall (like the shot of Pushkin’s Silvio).  Handguns are also easy to hide in a place secure from children.  Assault rifles, in contrast, are fairly tough to stuff under the mattress or lock in a drawer.

People utterly devoted to defending the Second Amendment to the utmost extent often counter that the military-class weapon is indeed necessary to citizens for potential application to military uses.  The day may come when we must dissuade the National Guard and local police forces from ransacking our homes at will or rounding us up and cramming us in cattle cars.  While I am not unsympathetic to such concerns—far be it from me to scoff at the notion of troops being used against American citizens—I have difficulty seeing how this scenario plays out well for the freedom-fighters.  The ruling elite have already sent drones to cruise over every acre of American soil.  Even without the menace of a high-tech vaporization from the heavens, what band of Minute Men could survive the onslaught of one Patton tank?  I don’t think you can buy those at gun shows, and I know they don’t fit into most garages.

Many freedom-loving Americans, in short, would not be broken-hearted if assault rifles were severely regulated.  Yet as a response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, this agenda is perfectly idiotic.  It addresses absolutely none of the factors that made the horrid atrocity of December 14 possible.  (And may we dispense with calling such events “tragedies”?  A tragedy involves a person’s bringing about his own ruin through a character flaw.  The wanton, inhuman butchery of these little children is a tragedy only insofar as the arrogant naiveté of the adults entrusted with protecting them impeded adequate preparation against foreseeable evil.)  Adam Lanza could have created the same carnage with two belts full of cap-and-ball revolvers.  Musket balls blow big holes.  The latest news, in fact (or the latest misreport, perhaps), is that he left his assault rifle in the car.  The toddlers that he immolated at close range were utterly defenseless against any sort of assault, and the adults who lost their lives trying to shield the children had no weapon of defense more potent than an eraser or a yardstick.

Yet in a manner that has become fully typical of our mullahs in Washington, the diabolical outrage at Sandy Hook Elementary has become the pretext for checking off another item on a bureaucratic “to do” list: i.e., “ban assault rifles”.

Children are not now safe in their schools, just as travelers were not safe aboard aircraft after the 9/11 attacks.  The obvious solution to the latter crisis was to arm pilots in the cockpit.  The adopted solution was to conduct inexplicably random searches of boarding passengers that include criminal groping and regular use of carcinogenic x-rays.  The right course was abandoned for an absurdly incommensurate and inept one in order (one can only suppose) to put more power in the hands of the central government: at the very least, to create more jobs for union workers.  The obvious solution to the high risk of deadly invasion in our schools is to train and equip school employees in the art of repelling deadly force with deadly force.  Give teachers guns, and teach them how to shoot straight.  No school massacre will ever occur again in what remains of our disunited United States.

For though Adam Lanza seems not to have employed his assault rifle while making his offering to the Devil, he might have been carrying an Uzi or a sawed-off pump-action shotgun or any other state-of-the-art instrument of death and still have been quickly neutralized, if only he had been surrounded by teachers with guns.  He was alone: his adversaries could have numbered in the dozens.  He was entering an unfamiliar space: the teachers would have known every turn in every corridor.  His objective was to keep walking and killing: theirs would have been accomplished merely by breaking one of his legs with one bullet.  There is no sane reason why people who love children should not exploit the potential of such high odds against the assailant.

The teacher/defender’s task could enjoy even higher likelihood of success with minor structural adjustments in school buildings.  For instance, every classroom could be fitted with a semi-cylindrical projection from its inner wall into the access corridor.  This half-turret would be made of impenetrable material and would possess a narrow slot, running a full 180 degrees, for a firearm’s muzzle (whose metal door would be slid open from the inside: or perhaps two such doors, locking at the 90 degree point, would be better so as to eliminate “blind-siding”).  The defender would then have complete coverage up and down the corridor while offering only the smallest of targets to the assassin. The mere incorporation of such “redoubts” into a class building’s architecture, in fact, would surely serve as a major deterrent against deadly invaders.  Facing a hallway lined with these protrusions, evil intruders would not know which held live marksmen and which didn’t.  The portal of any redoubt could slide open at any moment.  (In the same way, a serial rapist/murderer doesn’t know which house has armed occupants and which doesn’t in a municipality whose citizens may legally own weapons, and tends to go elsewhere.)

Furthermore, the person on duty at the school’s front desk should have a “code red” button to hit whose activation would mean one and only one thing: shooter loose in building.  Every occupant of every room would then know what to do.  Even if no classroom redoubts were waiting with pistols pointed and hands trained in their use, solid doors could at least be closed and locked at once.  Code red… and all doors are sealed in fifteen seconds flat.  We do the reverse in fire drills.  It is unfathomable to me why this strategy has not been in place on every school campus for years.

Some of the problem, probably, is an intellectual nullity inspired by moral cowardice.  A certain utopian mindset chooses to deal with the reality of warped souls by eradicating every reminder that they exist–including defenses against them.  This response could be mistaken for courage if it involved any cognition of the sad facts; but it belongs, instead, to the boldness of a stupidity born of timidity. 

For I know professional educators, as a group, well enough to anticipate the horror with which they will receive most of my suggestions.  I can hear from my chair the platitudes about “creating a culture of killing that lets the shooter win even if he fails”.  The nurture of such intellectualist fatuity is not worth the life—nor even the maiming—of a single toddler.  Our children are not pawns in some chess match of high idealism.  Bringing down a child-killer before he finds his first target is a “righteous kill” every time.  

A more substantial objection would be that, especially among older children, a gun-toting teacher might inadvertently attract more gun violence to schools.  Teenagers (at least in the wild-and-woolly inner city) could be expected to mob the teacher in order to come away with the firearm as a trophy, even if they intended no more mischief than simply “counting coup”.  The answer to this objection is technological, and has already well embarked upon the experimental stage.  Guns of the future, like cars and other items of portable property that represent tempting targets to thieves, will be “smart”.  That is, they will read the user’s fingerprint (or perhaps even his DNA) before agreeing to function.  A government that truly had the best interest of its citizens at heart would promote actively such initiatives instead of ignoring them to strip-search all of its citizens.

While we await this technology’s coming to fruition, selected elementary school teachers should proceed to arm themselves with conventional handguns.  No one should be pressed into such service; but the teacher who is ready and willing to be a first-line defender should have the weapon secured upon his or her person at all times, probably under clothing and out of sight.  The objection that a toddler would eventually latch onto a mislaid gun and shoot somebody accidentally makes about as much sense as the admonition that transporting kids in cars will lead to their heisting Mommy’s key, cranking up the SUV, and driving themselves into a tree.  In a nutshell, incompetent idiots should not be enlisted for this duty. 

Should people be teaching at all who are too foolish to keep a deadly weapon safely concealed?  Should pilots be in the air at all who are too unstable to abstain from playing OK Corral the first time they take off with their sixguns?  The progressive utopian’s high alarm whenever anyone not in uniform has a weapon reflects a very curious conviction among the starry-eyed faithful that responsible adulthood does not exist.  Authority must always be postponed (in that deconstructive fashion which mesmerizes academics) to a metaphysical Otherness, a transcendent Father Figure… such as the Supreme Leader, the god of the New Age.

The road to such “progress” is likely to be paved with little bodies.  More children will die if we do not take the right measures.  When the next massacre is carried out with a Glock instead of an AK 47, then the refrain will be that “we haven’t gone far enough.”  Eventually no private citizen will have any effective form of protection at all… or will have only the appointed-and-salaried guards who are supposed to weed out anarchists, psychopaths, and an evolving list of dissidents and malcontents.  On that day, quis custodes custodiet?–who will guard the guards?  What will distinguish the private citizen in that model society from the inmate of a maximum-security prison?

Yet lest this piece end on a philosophical note which it was not intended to have, let me say a final word about the security guard.  His profession is an honorable one.  When he has a name and a face, we usually know and love him.  But a single guard, in my opinion, is a concealed liability in that the security he represents is false.  The people entrusted to his vigilance are likely not to be very vigilant themselves, since they know he “has them covered”.  He will represent, all alone, practically every line of defense that his employer has bothered to prepare and fund.  Most security guards will live out a twenty- or thirty-year gig without ever encountering any threat graver than a boy throwing a tantrum with a lunch tray.  They will inevitably grow complacent, and their rounds and habits will become familiar to every boy and girl on campus–including the severely twisted child who is near the boiling point.  If this sick child can only smuggle his weapon past the front door–or if he can catch the guard napping outside the door and make him the first kill–then our warped assassin runs the table. Everyone will be taken entirely–and fatally–by surprise.

Ask Madam Smith, the math teacher, and Mr. Jones, the P.E. teacher, to strap a little revolver in the small of their back, snugly under their sweater.  Don’t look to the Leader to control the circulation of deranged minds in our turbulent society: you would only be asking for more dead children.