When I was in 7th grade, less than a year after the Columbine shooting, my 6th grade science/choir teacher was shot in her classroom. She said that a young Hispanic man had been sending her death threats, and before school started that morning he came in, shot her in the shoulder, and ran away. It was earth-shattering as a 13-year-old that such an act of violence could happen in my school, to my teacher. It was even more horrifying when the police revealed the next day that there was no shooter, that my teacher had shot herself in the shoulder, and concealed the gun in a false bottom of her purse. She claimed that it was an effort to step-up school security, a response to the death threats no one took seriously (and that she had actually written and sent to herself). From what I read, the prosecution believed that she was trying to get her own lawsuit against the school, or get medical leave and early retirement.
This woman who was trusted with hundreds of children brought a weapon into a school and used it on herself in order to fulfill her own interests, and then defamed a Hispanic student without any regard for the damage that would do to him or his family. I read about some of the teachers who testified against her in court, how they had laid down on the floor in the library in lockdown after the shooting, how they suffered with PTSD, how they worried if their students of color would look at all white teachers as racists that they couldn’t trust.
So when people believe that the solution to the mass-shooting crisis in our country is to now arm our teachers, I can’t help but think of this woman who was a teacher, who armed herself against an imaginary danger, who did not use her gun in the defense of her students, but instead to create a lot of hurt and chaos.
I cannot say it enough: Guns do not belong in schools – in anyone’s hands. I have so much respect for teachers, and for anyone involved with educating our children – I know especially in Arizona it can often be a thankless, underpaid and grueling profession. Teachers take on so much, but asking them take up arms is beyond insane. GUNS DO NOT BELONG IN SCHOOLS.