Teacher: 'Please Don't Offer Me a Gun'

Beth Ann Fennelly calls on lawmakers to act instead of asking teachers to take up arms
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2022 3:22 PM CDT
Teacher: No, I Won't Be Arming Myself This Year
In this Saturday, June 29, 2019, photo, Cindy Bullock, Timpanogos Academy secretary, participates in shooting drills at the Utah County Sheriff's Office shooting range during the teacher's academy training, in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah.   (AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)

From kindergarten to college, all teachers have their rituals when it comes to preparing for the first day of school. As Beth Ann Fennelly writes in a guest essay for the New York Times, those rituals can be considered in three categories: the practical (e.g., arranging desks and supplies); the psychological (priming oneself to convince college students of the “transformative power of literature”); and, nowadays, the tactical (identifying “hard corners” and escape routes). One thing Fennelly—teacher, writer, and former poet laureate of Mississippi—will certainly not do to prepare for the new year is register for FASTER Saves Lives firearms training. Yes, she will prepare her students for an active-shooter situation, "but please don't offer me a gun."

FASTER stands for “Faculty & Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response.” The program is run by the pro-gun Buckeye Firearms Foundation, and its training is intended to ensure that “schools are no longer ‘victim zones.’” Fennelly notes the idea of arming teachers is gaining popularity, with some saying teachers are “the first line of defense.” Fennelly says teachers are more like the last line, and “if we educators find ourselves nose-to-nose with a mentally ill child wielding an AR-15, it might look as if we’re the first line, but that’s only because all the other lines have lain down.” She reflects on the challenges of teaching a generation of students who’ve grown up fearing their classroom could be the next Uvalde or Sandy Hook, and she calls on lawmakers to focus more on “opening minds, not barricading doors.” Read the full essay. (Read more school shooting stories.)

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