Of all the ways that legislators try to address gun violence in the United States, the Trump administration’s proposal to arm teachers is perhaps one of the worst ideas of all time. This fact was clear almost immediately, but regardless ended up dominating the gun control conversation—it’s almost like lawmakers wanted the give the illusion of trying to make change while still keeping their NRA money.
It’s somewhat reassuring that many representatives and members of government do recognize how absolutely counter-intuitive this plan is. State Representative Harry Shiver, a Republican legislator, is opposing once such bill in Alabama. The state saw a school shooting just recently, which ended in the death of a 17-year-old girl. It was the 14th shooting this year.
While I’m extremely thankful that Shiver is against arming teachers, his reasoning for it is somewhat outrageous. His argument, essentially, was that Alabama needs to protect “our ladies” who “are scared of guns.” The retired physical ed. teacher told AL.com, on the subject of a bill that would allow schools to designate certain teachers or admin to carry guns:
“I’m not saying all (women), but in most schools, women are (the majority) of the teachers. Some of them just don’t want to (be trained to possess firearms). If they want to, then that’s good. But most of them don’t want to learn how to shoot like that and carry a gun.”
He told lawmakers, “it’s mostly ladies that’s teaching and they’ve got more things to worry about than carrying a gun.” (Yes, similarities to Bojack Horseman‘s “I can’t believe this country hates women more than it loves guns” was noted.)
Now, Shiver isn’t wrong that many teachers “wouldn’t like to be put in that position” and that the law had lots of issues, including the fact that policemen might not realize that the teacher isn’t the shooter—which would put the teacher in danger. Turns out, there are an endless number of reasons why arming teachers is a bad idea that don’t include calling women as more weak or bad at guns!
There’s definitely a lot to be said about the relationship between guns in America and women. There’s a gendered aspect to gun violence, as mass shootings are primarily carried out by men and more specifically, men with a history of domestic violence. Gun ownership also tends to lean towards men, and women tend to favor stricter gun laws more than men.
That doesn’t change the fact that arming teachers is a bad idea for anyone.
Gun ownership and propaganda is often hyper-masculine in its rhetoric and imagery, which is perhaps why there’s a kind of anxiety about women owning guns. When something like NRA TV advertises guns and gun products to women, there’s often a lot of emphasis on accessories, customization, and keeping things close to traditional femininity.
Again, I want to emphasize that Shiver (who’s reportedly a fan of hunting and a certified hunter safety instructor) is absolutely right that arming female teachers is a horrendous and awful course of action—but it is worth unpacking where these sentiments come from.
If teaching were a male-dominated profession it would still be a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Idea, if not worse.
(via Splinter, image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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