Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gun-Free School Zones


A teacher meeting was just ending in my room a couple of years ago when the school secretary announced over the loudspeaker that the school was going into lockdown. Students were in their “Unified Arts” classes, which used to be known as Gym, Shop, Home Ec, and Art. Emergency procedure dictated that I stay in my room with the door locked, the lights out, and out of sight of anyone who might look in the windows.

Cowering in the face of a threat is not in my nature, however. I knew I was supposed to sit there quietly and let the appropriate authorities deal with whatever the threat was, but I couldn’t. I looked out into the hallway to see what was going on. Policemen were searching student lockers which were lined up on either side of the wide corridor. Later, I learned that someone had scrawled “I have a gun” on a wall in one of the girls’ bathrooms. The principal decided to take the threat seriously and called police. Hence, the lockdown.

Before learning that, however, I ran the possibilities through my mind of what the threat might be. In declining order of likelihood, I figured it could be an irate parent who felt aggrieved by a custody decision. It could also be a deranged student or students reenacting a Columbine-type episode, or, least likely, it could be a terrorist attack. Whatever it was, I knew one thing: because of the screwball Gun-Free School Zones Act enacted during the Clinton Administration, we could all be assured that the perp would be the only one with a weapon and all the rest of us would be at a distinct disadvantage as his unarmed victims.

Feeling the familiar frustration of the many ways federal intervention had screwed up public education during my then-35-year teaching career, I reflected on the what I’d recently taught my students about “gun-free zones” as part of a Second Amendment lesson. Fox News had put together an effective, short satire on them in the form of an infomercial. The pitchman explained the benefits of putting up “gun-free zone” signs in homes, businesses and public places. A potential robber with a gun would try to hold up a store. The owner behind the counter put his hands up and pointed to a “gun-free zone” sign, whereupon the robber put down his gun and left the store in frustration. Then he repeated the scenario in a sidewalk mugging and in a home invasion. Students caught on immediately to the absurdity of the whole “gun-free zone” concept.

Asked how many had guns in their homes, about two-thirds of my students raised their hands. We discussed the correlation between the high rate of gun ownership and the low crime rate here in Maine and in other rural areas of the country as well as the high correlation between strict gun control laws in our major cities and their high crime rates.

All this came back to me when Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s newly-appointed a new police chief blamed the National Rifle Association and Sarah Palin for the roving hoards of bandits and murderers terrorizing that city. “[It’s] federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms, into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children,” he said. However, there are way more guns in Maine, per capita, than in Chicago, and lots of people here leave their doors unlocked and they don’t kill each other. As the saying goes: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. In this case at least, a bumper sticker slogan easily trumps progressive “thinking.” The problem lies with people in Chicago, not the guns. All those Alinsky-inspired community organizers have done a wonderful job in the Windy City, haven’t they? If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, do you think smug progressives would learn anything if they were forced to put up “Gun-Free Zone” signs in front of their own houses?

When I first taught here in Maine back in 1977, I noticed students driving to school with rifles on racks across the rear windows of their pickup trucks. During November, they hunted before and after school, and so did many teachers including this writer. Parents dropping their children off in front of the school often had rifles visible in their vehicles as well. Then in the 1990s I found myself distributing notices to parents warning them against doing that anymore after the ludicrous Gun-Free School Zones Act was signed into law by President Clinton. The notice students were instructed to take home and give to parents said those parents could be arrested if they drove onto school grounds with their deer rifles or shotguns in their vehicles. This, progressives insisted, was going to make us all safer.

God save us all from progressive do-gooders.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People kill people, guns just happen to be a convenient tool.

7/6/11, 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Gaffer said...

As a shooter and firearms instructor for many decades I am pleased that a teacher, even a retired on, has the courage to tell it as it is. This politically correct progressive attitude is so wrong it is worrisome.

It just proves that nearly half the people are downright stupid. What is even scarier is they too vote and what we now have is a splendid example of what the result can be.

7/6/11, 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really about control, not guns. If there is anything they fear it is a well armed nation-----just ask the Brits. The new world order is certainly threatened by us being armed and they can, will, and have staged false flag events to push their agenda. Look at the recent debacle with Mexico---we gave them guns so we could track them???? What??
Who's in charge? Wait until they give the illegal aliens citizenship and convince them to vote for gun control.

Our given rights are being washed away further and further everyday. And the media is covering the Casey Anthony trial....truly amazing...when will America take to the streets like the rest of the world is???

7/6/11, 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that this issue gets no response from the Carroll County Liberal Democrat Skippies. Not a one response. I half expected a Rabid, foaming at the mouth response. It made me ponder the thought that could it be that now that you are a "Retired" teacher and not in the class room, and therefore not an "Immediate" threat to their Saul Alinsky revolution,have they moved on to other venues. Time will tell.

Name withheld for fear of being put on the Obama watch list.

7/9/11, 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Elle Burbank said...

My mom just read this to Grace and I. I completely agree with you. I miss our discussions about this in class. Hope your having a good summer. (:

7/9/11, 9:49 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Hi Elle,

I am having a nice summer. Just got back from a week in New Harbor on the coast. We had a wonderful time.

It's those discussions I'll miss as well - and your erudite, perspicacious, inferential questions.

Getting so many friend invitations from former students on Facebook, many teachers like me make it a policy not to accept them, so don't take it personally please. Besides, I'm hardly ever on Facebook anyway. I'm sure I'll see you around town. Maybe you can come to softball with your mother on Thursdays.

7/10/11, 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Sami Gay said...

"God save us all from progressive do-gooders".

I thank God that you are out of the public school system. Good riddance, moron.

7/13/11, 4:51 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks for the feedback, Mr. Gay.

7/13/11, 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely through your many years of teaching, you have seen a wide variety of students pass through the halls. I definitely understand how having someone within the school, (a.k.a a gun-free zone) armed could potentialy save lives, should someone come that meant to harm people. But since you know better than most how delinquent-like some students can be, what if they thought it would be "cool" to take that weapon? And whoever would think that would be "cool" probably wouldn't know how to safely handle it. I know that the signs can't actually stop people from brining guns, but they are only meant to remind people. It is a school afterall, where children run wild.

9/3/11, 11:22 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Students who think it would be cool can bring guns to school. Some do. Most students live in a home where guns are present - perhaps two-thirds of them.

There is more of a fascination with guns among people who are not familiar with them and who seldom see them, including students.

Students don't bring guns to baseball games or to the fair. They bring them when they're hunting, or when there's a varmint that needs shooting. They know what guns are for and what they're not. They're tools like any other.

9/4/11, 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shooting a gun leaves no room for error, remorse and little room for survival. Putting a weapon in someones hand that is as powerful of that and so easily accessible, is such a recipe for disaster. People are paranoid and trigger happy as it is and with everyone having weapons, its all about who has the bigger gun.

I am sorry, I live in Ontario, Canada... and although there is crime everywhere, especially in the City of Toronto. We do not need guns to feel safe and secure and we are quite happy without them. I would not want to live anywhere, where every household had a gun. Unless you lived in a very ghetto area, what is the point?

Silly, Cowboys.

12/3/12, 11:38 AM  

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