Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Teachers with guns is a crazy idea

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 3:57 PM EST, Wed December 19, 2012
LZ Granderson says arming educators to fend off gunmen is going in the wrong direction.
LZ Granderson says arming educators to fend off gunmen is going in the wrong direction.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Texas governor Perry among those ok with concealed weapons in schools
  • Granderson commends Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for vetoing concealed weapons bill
  • A school official trying to take out a gunman more likely to hit kids or be killed, he says
  • Granderson: Trained police end up killing people by accident all the time

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- I wish I were surprised that Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn't see a problem with concealed weapons in schools, but after watching his failed bid for the presidency, the truth is there's very little that man can say that will truly surprise me.

"If you have been duly back-grounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun license-carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state," Perry said at a tea party event held on Monday.

It seems his line of reasoning is in line with some of his gun-loving brethren who believe if teachers and principals are armed, tragedies like the one in Newtown would go away.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

It's as if he thinks "Rambo" is a documentary.

In a country with fewer than 350 million people but more than 310 million guns, we don't need more of them. We need fewer. And when it comes to our schools, we don't need guns at all.

So it's very fortunate that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had the good sense to veto Michigan Senate Bill 59 on Tuesday. The proposed law would have allowed people with permits to carry concealed weapons and with extra training, to bring their guns to traditional "gun-free" zones such as day care centers and schools. And by "extra training," the bill called for an additional eight hours and another 94 rounds on the firing range.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



That's it.

It was approved the day before the shootings in Newtown.

On Monday -- while Perry was encouraging guns in schools -- a letter signed by all 21 superintendents in my county was sent to Gov. Snyder asking him to veto the bill because, unlike the gun-happy politicians who rammed the legislation through in a lame duck session, educators do not believe guns in schools are a good thing.

I have yet to hear a teacher who has survived a massacre advocate for guns in schools. In fact, the American Federation of Teachers -- with its 1.5 million members -- also sent a letter to Snyder opposing the bill, saying, "We should be doing everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property."

Survivor: I didn't live normal childhood
3 tragedies, 3 presidents, 13 years
How well do Japan's tough gun laws work?
School allows teachers to carry guns

In moments of stress, typically the first thing to erode is our motor skills. So the argument that educators should be ready to dodge gunfire, avoid hitting students and take out a gunman so someone hundreds of miles away can buy military-grade weapons and ammunition for kicks is a very stupid argument to make. And yet, we heard elements of that reasoning soon after the movie theater killings in Aurora, Colorado. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert asked: "It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?"

Yes, Gohmert -- because what a dark room filled with tear gas and panicked people needs is more guns.

That makes as much sense as the lawmakers in Florida allowing concealed weapons in the state Capitol building in Tallahassee -- and then needing to install alert buttons on the phones of every senator and staffer in case someone came in and started shooting up the place with one of those concealed weapons.

Gov. Snyder needed to veto SB 59, not because the mood of the country has shifted because of the Newtown tragedy, but because it was bad legislation to begin with. We don't need -- and most educators don't want -- guns in schools.

I said most because David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold school district in Texas, where employees have been allowed to carry guns in schools since 2008, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Nothing is 100%. But what we do know is that we've done all we can to protect our children."

Also, on "Meet the Press," former Secretary of Education William Bennett said, "I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing. ... It has to be someone who's trained, responsible. But, my God, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to."

Bennett: The case for gun rights is stronger than you think

Let's think about this: In August, nine bystanders in New York were wounded as a result of police gunfire -- the police were trying to arrest a suspect connected with another shooting. In September, police in Houston shot and killed a double amputee in a wheelchair who was trying to stab an officer -- with a pen.

Back in 2009, in Perry's state of Texas, a military doctor opened fire at the Fort Hood Army post, killing 13 and wounding 30 others.

The victims were all professionals, surrounded by guns, and trained to handle -- in Bennett's words -- "this kind of thing." Why would anyone think teachers and principals could take a couple of weekend classes and do better than them?

It just doesn't make sense. Having police patrol the area during school hours is fine. But allowing guns in school is simply counterintuitive to the kind of civilized society we want to live in and represent to the rest of the world.

Did you know, in addition to schools and day care centers, SB 59 would've allowed guns in hospitals, stadiums and churches?

I'm not anti-gun -- I have one in my house. But I ask you: What kind of people feel the need to have a gun with them in church? I'll tell you what kind: The kind who probably shouldn't have one in the first place.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT