Tag Archives: gunz

A thank you, and first ski day of the season

For those of you who’ve responded to my post about teachers and guns, thank you for your thoughtful responses.  I appreciate every one of them.

Sadly, there are folks out there (but only two that I know of, thankfully) who’ve accused me of either overreacting or being afraid to use a gun.  Sigh.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re following talking points, knowingly or not.  And so far, none of them have any actual classroom or teaching experience in a K-12 setting.  Nor do they show signs of having thought through the force decision steps in that setting.  Sigh.  That’s all I’m going to say.

On to more cheerful things…sort of.  The first day out wasn’t the greatest this year, while not being the worst.  DH wrenched his bad knee when he got into deep, heavy, wet powder and was out for the day.  My bad, because 1.) I didn’t insist we stay on Pucci and 2.) I didn’t scout it first.  My skis handle powder better than his.  So he’s out for a couple of weeks, but thankfully no long-term harm done.

The conditions were tough.  Heavy, wet powder on a base that hadn’t really had time to build.  Pucci was in pretty good shape early in the day; Pucci as I like it with the high sloping banks that make me think of pinball bumpers as I ricochet off of them.  Even at that, it took me three runs to get the rhythm of shifting weight from ski to ski smoothly.  And I’m tight in the hips, not in a good way.

I finished off with a check it out run down Uncle Jon’s band.  Still pretty low snow and as a result, lots of choppy moguls on the slopes.  I opted out of the last steep drop because I saw a little tree emerging from the snow at the top and figured it was lower than I wanted to ski.  I went around, and was happy I did when I looked up from the bottom.  Not only is more snow needed but it needs to have about a week of grooming and packing for best results–at least for what this old lady likes to do.  Given the forecast, however, I think things will be great by next week.

I found my condition lacking in a couple of areas.  Not surprising, considering my usual modus operendi is to ski Pucci and build up my strength before moving on to the longer runs.  Definitely in beginning of season condition.  Which means caution, listening to the ol’ bod, and doing some drills.

And squats and lunges at home.  Ah well, it was a beginning, and I started tapping into the flow.  We’ll see how things go from here.

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Okay. Teachers and general school staff should NOT be carrying guns. Here’s why.

Note: I own guns.  I hunt.  I am familiar with guns and their safe handling and use.

Which is exactly why I argue that teachers and general school staff should NOT be carrying guns in school settings or expected to carry guns in school settings.

I’ve run across this particular meme often enough on Facebook already since the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook, and it’s making me angry enough that I want to address it explicitly.  Because so far, not a single person promoting this argument has sufficient experience managing kids in a school setting to make a seriously valid argument.

First of all, a school setting is not a home defense setting.  It is a crowd situation.  Teachers and staff are the managers of the crowd situation.  They are known authority figures to the crowd.  They have some idea of who the reactors within the crowd are going to be.  They can manage and direct the group.


Keep in mind that in most settings you will have an adult-student ratio of 1-25 or more.  With older students, you might have certain highly-regarded, level-headed kids who can perform specific tasks to help secure the setting–i.e., close curtains, calm peers, overturn tables, etc…(yes, I have a multi-scenario, rather elaborate security plan should I need to implement it.  I’ve just spent time tweaking it).  Might.

You might also have a panic-stricken, hormone-crazed crowd that you can’t step away from, except to do the basic steps to secure the area.

For example, here are the steps I need to take to secure a classroom–

Get students to a safe location out of sight of window in door and outside window (impossible, therefore overturned tables).

Close blinds.

Lock door (requires I step outside the classroom).

In my regular classroom, I have to walk fifteen feet to secure an outside door that opens onto a covered play area.

Do I really have the time to prepare a weapon safely while doing all of the above?

What happens if I have younger children that I can’t leave unsupervised throughout any of this process and who may need me to soothe them and forestall dangerous panic behaviors?

What is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for me to be doing–managing the kids or managing a weapon safely around kids?  Keep in mind that I may be the sole adult in the room.  It may fall upon me to get the kids quickly to safety under direction.  I am the direct kid manager.  Do I have time to manage a gun?

I’ve also been reading a rather useful book about force decisions by Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force: dynamic decision-making under threat of violence.  I’m currently in the Level Six–Deadly Force–section.  After reading Miller and Kane, I am very comfortable in stating that teachers can’t do it all.

See, that’s the other piece about putting it on teachers and staff to carry guns in school.  This isn’t a home defense setting with limited people.  This is a crowd setting.  In order to safely and effectively shoot an intruder without causing harm to innocent bystanders (for whom you may be charged if you do injure or kill them), you have to practice that scenario and train in assorted crowd scenarios.

Many teachers already don’t have enough time in their lives to do the daily tasks required of them as a teacher.  Where’s this training time going to come from?  Who’s going to pay for it?  What further academics get cut from tight budgets to fund this sort of aggressive security scenario?  I can pretty much guarantee you that it’s likely to be PE/Health followed by Social Studies that’ll go bye-bye (the arts are already gone in many schools).

There’s also the issue of safe secure carry within a classroom around kids who might decide to try to get that weapon from you.  The potential emotional impact on struggling students of a teacher carrying a weapon (and please, don’t get me started about finding a place to secure a weapon in my room.  That just adds to the reaction time if it comes down and it’s another temptation for kids).

Now does this mean I’m unarmed in my classroom?

Let’s see.  We have staplers.  We have scissors.  We have chairs.  We have books and other things to throw.  We have tables to stack and form as door and window barricades.  White board cleaning spray.  Trust me, if it comes down, I’m going to roll with the situation but there are many lovely tools in a school setting that can be used as self-defense, given the time and secure setting to prepare them.

It’s just getting to that secure setting.  To that end, more effective school entry security is a must.  The ability to secure settings such as libraries, cafeterias, and outdoor playgrounds quickly is a must.  The ability for staff to communicate quickly and privately is a must.

None of these require the use of guns.

If society deems that we need armed staff in the school, then put one or two deputized, sworn, trained police officers in each building.  Their job will be to keep the building secure.  Many high schools already do this, some getting the staff from the local police department.

Better that than teachers carrying.  Period.

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Kip Kinkel and Clackamas Town Center–rantage

Thurston was the first time that one of the American mass shootings really struck home for me.  Not only am I a graduate of Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, but I took a French class one year from Bill Kinkel, Kip Kinkel’s dad.  Because I hadn’t lived in the area for a while, and because the initial reports were hazy, it wasn’t until I actually saw a picture of Kip Kinkel and his family that I realized my connection to this shooting went far beyond the memories of the places where people were hurt and killed.

The realization slugged me hard in the gut.  Not just because of the connection but because we had our own kid with issues.  I was so tuned out and freaked out by the whole thing that I only got a partial photo record of the trip we took right after the shootings–I pulled my film canister out of my Minolta SLR and didn’t replace it, just kept on shooting.  I have no record of the exquisite beauty of Stanley Park.  Or anything else from that trip.  It wasn’t until something clicked that I’d been taking photos for a lot longer than the film roll I had loaded that I checked and realized I’d been shooting with an empty camera.  Sigh.

Over the years, I compared notes with fellow graduates.  We’d all been stunned by it.  The most horrific part, though, was that the shooter was the son of a teacher who’d been a gentle man, someone who’d made a difference in the lives of many struggling and troubled kids at Thurston.  But he couldn’t help his own kid–and that added to the tragedy of Thurston.  For years I could almost hear Bill Kinkel’s voice as I read what people wrote about how he sought help for Kip.

As we struggled through school years with the kid, progressing toward a diagnosis and management skills, one idiot (upon hearing we took him out hunting) asked “aren’t you afraid you’ll create another Kip Kinkel?”

I–um–pinned that person’s ears back hard.  For one thing, a friend of ours who was a gun collector and instructor had been asked to teach Kip proper gun etiquette, but it had never worked out.  Could it have made a difference?  Hard to say.  I do know that my kid, when faced with a gun that looked like the one he’d target shot just the weekend before, only his friends were squirreling around with it, did exactly what he’d been taught to do.  While his buddies swaggered around the neighborhood waving it around and pretending to be big twelve-year-old white-boy gangstas (one even had a Starter coat, the big gangsta thing at the time), our kid immediately left them and came home to tell me.  He wasn’t sure what it was but he wasn’t messing around.  I called the parent, who was shocked–and I was shocked in turn that said parent thought it was totally acceptable for his kid to carry a pellet gun around the neighborhood in a paper bag, and go shooting in a city wildlife refuge, near a popular skating rink and amusement park.

“But it’s only a pellet gun!”  he told me.

“It’s a gun,” was my response.  “And that’s unsafe behavior and handling.  What the hell are you teaching your kid?”

Needless to say, that friendship kinda faded out.  And this incident happened before that smarmy idiot compared what we were doing to what happened with Kip Kinkel.  They hadn’t known about my connection to Thurston before…well, they sure did afterward.   I don’t take those comparisons lightly, either then or now.

Fast forward to now.  So far, I don’t know of any of my extended Portland and Mountain community who was at Clackamas Town Center or anywhere near it at the time it happened.  I’m seeing accounts of folks who’d been there the day before, or who had left earlier.

Nonetheless, Clackamas is very close to where I live.  It’s a ten minute or less drive, within a couple of miles.  I shop in that Macy’s store.  The pictures from where the ambulances and cops were staged?  That’s right next to the escalator next to the REI that I shop at.  Yeah, I know that place.  My son was born at the Kaiser Sunnyside hospital that’s within a half mile of the mall.  If I hadn’t had a meeting that ran late at work, I probably would have tried to run errands at the Kaiser complex and the mall…and run right into the post-shooting chaos.  A couple of weeks later, I might have been there, though that’s usually a time of day when I try to avoid the mall.

The usual hue and cry over gun regulation is already exploding, with concealed carry advocates arguing that if they were allowed to carry at the mall, someone could have taken this guy out, and advocates of gun control arguing for greater regulation.  To the concealed carry advocates, I cry out phooey.  Unless you are training on a regular basis, and practice crisis situations, how the hell do you know you wouldn’t do more harm than good?  I’m currently reading an excellent book on force decisions and dude, I seriously doubt you’re thinking with your brains.  Civilians just don’t have the cultivated training and instincts.  Most of us don’t have the time and money to train that way.

I mean, I could have a concealed carry permit myself.  I took the training years ago.  I chose not to follow through with the permit.  I just couldn’t see it being useful to me (we initially went through the training so that we could buy handguns if we wanted, then it fell by the wayside), and I most definitely don’t see it now, working in a school as I do (and I am most definitely NOT an advocate of concealed carry in schools).  For me, concealed carry means a commitment to regular practice and maintenance of a weapon, and I just don’t have the time and access to do that.  Nor do I think it’s crucial in my life.  If I feel the need for a home defense weapon, my hunting shotgun works right fine (nice little pump action), and is less likely to take out a neighbor because the damn bullet went through a wall.  Some of my father’s tales about long distance shooting training for WWII stuck pretty hard with me, and when I learned my own gun discipline, learning what the possible range of a shot bullet could be was the biggest lesson taught.  So yeah, if I feel the need for home defense, I’m gonna get a short barrel shotgun with a pistol grip.  And a pump, because nothing sends chills down the spine quite like the tell-tale “click-click” of a pump action.  Go ahead and play with your big frame handguns.  I want my shotgun if I feel worried enough that I resort to weaponry.  Then I don’t have to worry about my aim.

To the gun control advocates–you think this is really going to solve the problem now?  REALLY?  Then just how the hell are you going to take all the weapons currently in circulation out of the system without causing a major ruckus and alienating a significant portion of the populace…including law-abiding folks living in rural areas who need weaponry to protect their livestock against predators and themselves against home invasions.  Think that’s a minor thing?  Not when you’re a good hour away from an overworked sheriff’s deputy who hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting to you in any sort of timely manner.

I grew up with that.  And my former neighbors in that area have concealed carry and a locked gate, because home invasions, nasty home invasions, are happening on a regular basis where they live.  Hey, they’re seniors, he’s ex-military, and they practice.  They also have a big, protective and noisy dog.  The gun is the last-ditch resort, which is as it should be.

The biggest problem is not the amount or the existence of the weaponry.  It’s the brains and mentality which idolizes gun culture.  It’s the lack of adequate mental health management and treatment for those with serious mental disorders.  It’s the lousy economy which creates desperate situations and lousy funding for mental health, education and other societal management measures which would plug up a lot of these damned problems.  It’s the crappy education system that so-called education reform is making even worse when it comes to managing the emotionally fragile, the poor, and the struggling.

Bill Kinkel knew he had a problem in Kip.  But the system, even then, didn’t give him any significant amount of help.  I’ve not heard what the shooter’s story is yet.

But I am predicting that he’s another system failure.  Mental health, PTSD, something like that.  Another person who ran off the rails.

And no amount of concealed carry or gun control is going to take care of that.  NO AMOUNT.


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