Rheta Johnson: Readin', writin', packin'

April 13, 2013 9:07:59 PM

Rheta Grimsley Johnson -


The National Rifle Association wants to train and arm all public school teachers and administrators. The plan, as the NRA sees it, is to protect students. 


Lest you be concerned, the NRA is suggesting that teachers get about a week's worth of firearm training before strapping on a weapon. 


All I can say is, the NRA wizards who came up with this Mister Peepers Packin' Plan didn't have the same teachers I knew. I had kind and good teachers, for the most part, in public schools. A few were even great at imparting knowledge.  


But I also had high-strung, nervous teachers, timid teachers, forgetful teachers, clumsy teachers, unhappy teachers and teachers with short fuses. I had one downright mean teacher. 


So far as I know, I never had a crazy teacher, but I'm sure they are out there. 


If I shut my eyes and try to remember all of my teachers for, say, the first six grades, I cannot imagine a single one of them successful in a situation that called for a shootout with a deranged and armed intruder. 


My first-grade teacher was fresh out of college, just getting her feet wet. Maybe 40 hours of gun training would have transformed her into Annie Oakley in bobby socks, but I doubt it. She once called the principal to the room to kill a roach. 


My sweet-faced second-grade teacher was nearing retirement. She wore thick eyeglasses and read to us from "The Boxcar Children" last thing each day before final bell. I can't see her pulling a pistol from beneath the folds of her demure shirt dress to blast away. 


My fourth-grade teacher arrived each morning in beautiful high heels, then carefully exchanged them for ballet flats for the rest of the day. On Play Day, a kind of annual Casual Friday, she let us try her pink lipstick. I guess if the NRA had been running the country back then, she might have let us shoot a round instead. 


My teachers were women -- all of them were women -- trained to expand our horizons, not have our backs. The only exception might have been my sixth-grade teacher, the angry, bitter one. I can imagine her using a gun. On us. 


Teachers generally have a cerebral temperament, a bookish demeanor. If they wanted a low-paying job that called for using a gun, they would have become cops, not teachers. 


This NRA plan, of course, is a microcosmic illustration of what's wrong with gun advocate theories overall. They presuppose that armed sane people have the same predispositions as armed insane people, thereby creating an effective counterbalance to unpredictable, random, premeditated violence. 


Sane people don't think like insane people. They don't reach for their guns to solve every problem. They don't shoot first and ask questions later. They don't live in nests lined with an arsenal and don't necessarily feel safer packing. 


If I could teach the NRA one thing it would be this: Guns in the hands of the wrong people, even well-meaning wrong people, is not the solution. It is the problem.