Francis W Zettler: The problem with guns in schools

Members of the activist group Avaaz protest Friday's NRA press conference with a likeness of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre Jr.

The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.

As a teacher for 50 years, I have followed the Newtown CT scenario with rapt attention. One side advocates gun restrictions, whereas the other advocates gun proliferation. Who is right? Which position will best protect both student and teacher and uphold American values? Safety first; can we all agree on that?

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association advocated placing an armed guard in each classroom. I have taught classes ranging in size from less than 5 students to over 500. Is it economically feasible to have armed guards for classes as small/large as that? And how many such guards would be needed to do justice in a classroom like UF’s Carleton Auditorium with a capacity of more than 500? Is one guard enough? 2? 100? You do the math, and who would fit the bill? Shall we reduce teachers’ salaries to help defray expenses?

According to the Gun Owners of America, “Locking up firearms can cost lives during a life-threatening situation.” So, as I carry my rapid-fire assault rifle to class, shall I load it with super slugs and leave the safety off? May I lay the gun down long enough to write something on the board?

John Richard Lott, Jr., a former academic and now a political commentator, concludes that more guns lead to less crime. So, shall I revise my course syllabi to mandate that each and every student carry a loaded weapon into class? By the same token, let’s not distribute flu vaccine; instead, let’s inoculate everyone with the virus! Survival of the fittest! Darwin would approve.

Texas governor Rick Perry advocates everyone being allowed to carry a concealed weapon, students, teachers, and armed guards alike. Dare I give an armed, mentally compromised student a failing grade?

The aforementioned Carleton Auditorium, where I once taught, has a tiny, flimsy podium, which BB pellets could pierce. Shall I replace it with a WW II-vintage pillbox, equipped with an industrial-grade machine gun? Does Craig’s List include any pillboxes and machine guns for sale?

We must act now! As it stands now, all that protects all of us in academia is that mandated US flag hanging in each of our classrooms. Do American flags make good tourniquets?

Thank God I’m retired.

Francis William Zettler,


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