After learning about the police presence throughout the Uvalde shooting, many Americans had to scrap their “good guy with a gun” theory. Now, NRA-funded politicians and local school districts are scrambling for solutions to gun violence that don’t involve regulating guns. School districts because they can’t; politicians because they don’t want to.
Before I get into this list, let me be clear: I completely sympathize with schools and teachers implementing some of these “last resort” methods. My failsafe for a shooter entering my classroom was the little hammer I kept in my desk for small classroom projects. With low budgets and so little power, I have no criticism for schools scrambling for anything to keep their children safe.
I reserve all my criticism and bitterness for politicians, companies looking to profit off fears raised by school shootings, and people who can’t choose commonsense gun reform over the lives of children and teachers.
Whether these methods are from teachers desperate to protect themselves or politicians desperate to not lose their NRA money, I’m confident that history will look back on these “solutions” to gun violence with scathing contempt at how our government has failed us.
Maureen O’Connell, a guest on Fox News, suggested purchasing ballistic blankets to cover classroom walls. (Don’t worry, they’re “colorful and beautiful.”)
A bucket of rocks
Ready to have your heart broken? Blue Mountain School District in rural Pennsylvania has equipped 200 of its classrooms with buckets of rocks to throw at a shooter as a last resort.
As a guest on CNN, Senator Rick Santorum remarked on students participating in the March for Our Lives protest: “How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations where there is a violent shooter and you can actually respond to that?” Jo Buyske, executive director of the American Board of Surgery, responded on Twitter, “Mr. Santorum, CPR doesn’t work if all the blood is on the ground.”
“Just run at them”
In a truly baffling piece of journalism, Megan McArdle asks why we don’t just train children to run at the shooter. “I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.” Cool, Megan. I volunteer you to lead that training while looking into the eyes of 21 first-graders you’re tasking to sacrifice their lives. (They have enough trauma with active shooter drills.)
Many school districts have issued statements this summer requiring clear plastic backpacks in the fall to make weapons visible. But we don’t have data suggesting this measure is effective at preventing violence. Michael Dorn, executive director for Safe Haven International, has a video demonstrating how 26 weapons can be hidden and concealed in an elementary-size clear backpack, including a shotgun, 12 handguns, a hand grenade, and knives.
Tiny, symbolic baseball bats
As a way to emphasize the importance of fighting back, a school district in Pennsylvania issued a 16-inch wooden baseball bat to each of its 500 teachers. The miniature bats will be locked away during the school day and only used as a “last resort” option. I have so many questions.
Get rid of doors
The day after the Uvalde school shooting, Senator Ted Cruz proposed on Fox News that schools “Have one door into and out of the school, and have … armed police officers at that door.” Limiting schools to one point of entry—even with multiple one-way exit points—is neither safe nor feasible, say experts and architects. (It’s not about the doors.)
When I taught books that were set further back in history—often in times when laws or norms were archaic or oppressive—I asked my students to think about legacy. What are the issues we’re grappling with right now that will be unbelievable to people 50 years from now? What topics will middle schoolers 50 years from now ask their teacher, “Wait, was this really the way people thought?”
My follow-up question to my students was always this: “And what will you be able to say you did about it?”