I arrive late to a packed board meeting of the Arid School District in your community and have to join others pressed against the wall and already listening to speakers address the five popularly-elected trustees of the school board who sit behind a long desk on the dais.
“Guns are inherently offensive, not defensive,” says a citizen.
“We can’t have teachers running around with guns,” says another.
“It’s outrageous that the most important school board meeting in history is held at two p.m. when parents, students, and teachers can’t attend,” a man says. “I urge you to postpone this vote.”
“The best weapons you can use to prevent a school attack is eyes and eyes,” adds a woman.
“Let’s remember the slaughter at Columbine High School,” says a passionate man. “Police didn’t get there for more than half an hour. At Virginia Tech it took eleven minutes for help to arrive, and they didn’t stop the guy, he took himself out. Same at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our high schools only have one police officer each, and if there’s trouble at another school they all have to rush there, leaving their schools without armed security.”
He continues to talk beyond the three-minute limit enforced when anti-gun advocates spoke, and they and their supporters shout, “Time, time.”
A lady next says, “I’ve been a teacher almost thirty years and have never felt afraid until this gun issue was brought up.”
“This whole thing is dangerous,” says a male teacher. “One of my colleagues stepped outside the classroom to make a phone call, and her students thought it would be funny to lock her out. They couldn’t open the door without her keys, which she keeps in her purse. If she had a concealed weapons permit, that’s where her gun would’ve been.”
Two more school gun advocates hail the merits of academic armament, one praising Donald Trump as well as a board member celebrated by some as a saint of martial preparedness. They go on a little long, prompting the protest, “Time, time.”
“If it’s true that this improves security, then why isn’t every teacher mandated to carry a concealed weapon in the classroom?” asks a teacher.
No one responds to her inquiry.
A lady walks forward and says, “We need more training and clear rules and a framework like they have in Texas.”
“You’re rushing this through, without examining the details, so the martial saint can vote before he leaves the school board,” says a man. “This isn’t in the interest of the students.”
“The forty thousand students in this district will walk into classrooms not knowing if teachers are armed,” says a citizen.
“Ten years ago the school board was trying to ban The Bluest Eye, by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, and now they want to okay guns on campus.”
Citizen speaking ends with this, “Ask parents and students. I believe you want to do the right thing, but please ask those you say you want to protect.”
Now the five august trustees prepare to speak.
“I believe this is a step toward making our campuses safer,” says the first. “I’ve heard input from both sides. This policy will deter those who want to shoot people in classrooms.”
Number two says, “My vote is ‘No’ but I fear this might pass.”
“We all value student safety, but we radically disagree how to pursue that,” says the third. “If I as a trustee didn’t know about this meeting today, how many of our thousands of parents didn’t know? We need to examine liability issues. We don’t know what can happen.”
This is like a tight baseball game. Guns trail one to two but the mighty martial saint is now at bat, proclaiming, “I provide the best foil for the media since I’m the picture of the Republican, right-wing, bible-carrying nut job. My father was a police officer who died in the line of duty. I just want to vote my conscience – yes. I’m not worried about my legacy. I’ll sleep like a baby.”
It’s the bottom of the ninth, game tied at two, and the fifth trustee digs in at the plate. “This is the most discussed and transparent issue we’ve dealt with since I’ve been on the board. We need to send a message that criminals won’t be entering a gun-free zone. The intelligent thing to do is give teachers the means of defending the kids.”
The three gun proponents stand, reach into their jackets, retrieve pistols, and fire victory shots into the ceiling.