Life Out Here: A Swift kick needed

This country needs a Swift kick to the behind in 2013 — a Jonathan Swift kick to the behind.

Swift, the greatest satirist ever, has been dead for more than 250 years, but he would have great fodder in the United States of America as it stands … or wobbles … now.

Swift, who used his peerless gifts at satire to try to bring light and good to society, would have found perfect material in the ongoing national argument stemming from the killing of 20 first-graders and six educators by a madman carrying a high-powered semiautomatic rifle earlier this month in Newtown, Conn.

The answer to children being shot in schools is not to try to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous or crazy people by having background checks on all buyers of guns in this country, we are told. The answer is not to have limited-capacity ammunition magazines for weapons, we are lectured.

No, the answer, many scream, is to have armed security on all campus and/or make sure teachers are armed with guns.

Yes, instead of spending our precious few education dollars on teachers and aides and materials, we should spend that money on armed security and training teachers to shoot heavily armed, possibly body-armored bad guys who might come on campus, they say. Instead of doing extra internships and otherwise learning how to become great teachers, future educators should spend time at gun ranges learning to become great marksmen, they insist. (I saw a gun nut on a talk show actually say that sounded like a good idea.)

When I became a teacher there was no requirement that I also had to be a gunslinger. If there ever comes a day when I have to go into a classroom strapped, I will leave education forever. And if I have to consider the possibility that my students are coming to class packing heat, I also will walk out that door and never come back.

The concept promoted by gun manufacturers and the gun lobby that the more guns there are out there the safer we are is pure idiocy. I will cite my own life as an example.

Twice I have been confronted by men wielding guns with bad intent (maybe thrice, but that’s a long story.) If I, with my hair-trigger temper, had been armed, I can guarantee you shooting would have ensued, and someone would have been dead. There is a really good chance it would have been me.

Fortunately, no one came away injured from those confrontations.

There is a darn good chance that a security guard with a pistol on his hip, or a teacher with a Glock strapped to her ankle, is going to be beaten to the draw or overpowered by the weaponry of a mass shooter. Frankly, some teachers/guards might lack what it takes to draw down on or shoot a killer on campus.

As I pointed out last week, there are plenty of private citizens with concealed weapons out there and plenty of armed officers on campuses who have not stopped rampages of psychos bent on mass destruction.

Jonathan Swift would have seen the absurdity of such ideas and skewered those propositions for the benefit of the world. I am now discouraged from doing such satires in this space, and I am no Jonathan Swift anyway.

So instead of doing a satire, let me write something ever so blatantly:

We don’t need to arm teachers such as myself to protect our kids. We need to get military-style weaponry and military-style ammunition off the streets to protect all of us.

Bret Kofford teaches writing at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU or its employees. Kofford can be reached at Kofford@roadrunner.com

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