In his guest column, “Arming Teachers With Guns, A Cautionary Tale,” Hank Pollard postulates a terrible tragedy. But as we read his story, we have to ask two important questions:
Q: Has this actually happened anywhere?
A: No. Mr. Pollard made it up.
Q: How likely is this sort of tragedy to actually happen?
A: This requires a short discussion of the postulated “facts.”
Mr. Pollard’s tragedy depends upon certain assumptions. First is that a child wearing “earbuds” can’t hear anything. This is demonstrably untrue. Every day I see a lady who uses earbuds, and I find that if I speak loudly to her, she can hear me over the program she’s receiving. A schoolchild using earbuds will certainly hear a school security guard who is shouting at him, even over loud music.
Second, Mr. Pollard’s tragedy depends upon the child not being recognized as a regular attendee by his own homeroom teacher. The child approaches his homeroom in a hurry, pursued by a security officer who is shouting at him, and, somehow, is not recognized by his teacher as he pushes through the door. Despite the fact that the child is unarmed, and that the tardy bell has rung, giving him a reason for his rush, the teacher panics and shoots him dead.
But wait. Doesn’t the home-room teacher know the students in her care? Can’t she attach, even in an instant, her knowledge of this specific child, mild-mannered and a good student, to the face coming toward her? And what about her training as a gun-toting teacher? Doesn’t she remember the important instructions, about making too hasty decisions and controlling her panic?
And even if we postulate that there may be a bomb in his backpack, the story falls flat on its face. Given that condition, any child in the room might have a bomb. Should they all be shot out of hand?
If there is to be a “cautionary tale,” I suggest that it should be better scripted than the one offered us by Mr. Pollard.