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 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 6:48 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 4:49 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT