The Best Defense

When you’re talking specifically about protecting students from an attack by an armed assailant, the best defense may not be a good offense.

A school’s responsibility—and each individual teacher’s responsibility, as well—is literally defensive: to protect students from harm. That’s it. There is no offensive responsibility. Nor should there be any: teachers should not be responsible for neutralizing the threat—and neither should the school. They should focus solely on keeping the students safe—and that can be accomplished with purely defensive measures like the ones at Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana. (If you’re not already familiar with what Southwestern High has done, you can access the NBC News story here.)

Can these measures guarantee the safety of every student in every situation? Maybe not, but neither could armed teachers. And at least, if the teachers aren’t armed, they won’t risk catching their students in a crossfire.

The Good, the Bad, and the School Board

At first, it was hard to believe the story in this morning’s newspaper. But then I remembered I’m living in Florida now—which is increasingly like living in the O.K. Corral.

Here’s what happened, according to the Sarasota-Manatee Herald-Tribune. After last night’s meeting of the School Board of Manatee County, the Board chairman and another member got into an argument (to put it mildly) outside the Board offices. The chairman, Scott Hopes, claims the other member, Dave Miner, was “about ready to run me over” with his car.

Well, Dave Miner has reportedly been aggressively confrontational—verbally, at least—on multiple occasions with multiple people in addition to Hopes. So I’m not inclined to leap to his defense.

But I’m dumfounded, on the other hand, by Hopes’s summation of the incident. “He’s lucky my gun was in my car,” he said.

He brought a gun to a School Board meeting?

It doesn’t matter that he left it outside. He brought it with him. To a School Board meeting.

This is Florida—the state with some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country. The state with the famous “stand your ground” defense. The state where a clearly unbalanced 19-year-old was legally able to purchase a virtual armory—including the AR-15 he used to kill 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day. This Florida, where the state House refused, as survivors of that massacre looked on, to even open debate on possible new firearms legislation.

Want to know why there’s so much violence in Florida today? Don’t worry about television shows or movies or video games—they’ve got those in other states too. In fact, they’ve got them all over the world. What other places don’t have is ostensibly rational adults, decision-makers occupying positions of power, who apparently believe they’re living in Tombstone. At High Noon.