Ha ha! A high school student says "gum," another student thinks he said "gun" and the whole school goes into lockdown.
(Of course, the officials running Lehman High School in Kyle, Texas, didn't call it a lockdown. Their term was: “hold students in their extended class periods to investigate the concern with little to no disruption to their schedule.” I'd like to meet a Lehman student who actually felt free to leave the premises during these "extended class periods."
What–was this a remake of "violins on television"?
The massive gun freakout at Lehman High was nothing, though compared to the massive–and still ongoing–gun freakout among college professors around the country.
Here's Linda Van Ingen, history prof at the University of Nebraska-Kearney saying she'd rather not learn how to defend herself and her students from a campus shooting because that would be participating in "gun culture":
We have an "active shooter" defense training class coming up, and I am just not interested. I resent how the burden of gun violence is being placed on educators. I feel like I’m being pushed into a gun culture that I want no part of.
Viewing dramatic video of an active-shooter scenario on my campus is disturbing. How should I respond when someone opens fire in my building? I’m told that if we can’t flee to safety, I should shove the furniture against the door of my classroom, silence all cellphones, and hope the perpetrator will move on. If the active shooter enters the classroom, I should have a strategy in place: signal a student to throw something against the wall to distract the shooter while another student or two — or perhaps me — tackles the perpetrator. This is the preparedness drill of run, hide, or fight. It all seems absurd.
Gun advocates have little more to offer. They think my carrying a concealed weapon or allowing my students to arm themselves would secure our safety. But I view this gun culture as another world, wholly unlike my own. As a historian, I am well aware of the violent horrors of the past, but my work is very cerebral. I wouldn’t know what to do with a gun as I go about my day, and the idea of learning to shoot someone is abhorrent to me.
Shorter Van Ingen: I'd rather be shot dead with a gun than learn how to defend myself from on.
And here's art professor Margaret Olin discombobulated by the mere thought that one of her students might be armed:
A few years later, at a large West Coast university where I was a visiting professor, I was hurrying through the halls to class clutching an armload of freshly graded midterm exams when my department chair detained me briefly.
"One of your students just spent the last half-hour in my office. He seems extremely angry at you." He told me the student’s name and, as I continued on my way, added, "I think he might be armed, so please watch out."
I’m not a very quick thinker. None of the possible rejoinders occurred to me: Not "Why do you think so?" Or "If that’s what you think, would it be appropriate to call the campus police"? Or at least "Should we maybe cancel class?" The only question that did come to mind I kept to myself: "What would it mean in this context to ‘watch out’?"
I decided what it meant as I somewhat shakily rifled through the stack of midterms for a clue. My strategy for coping was to begin class with warm congratulations to all on so many really interesting answers given to the essay questions on their midterms. I started reading snippets of some of them chosen "randomly," including one from the intimidating student’s C-minus paper. I edited it only slightly. Ordinarily I don’t do this kind of thing, and most students probably thought I was crazy. No doubt the target of my performance failed even to notice it. But no guns went off….
Margaret Olin–giving new meaning to the phrase "nutty professor."
But there's more:
Now some states wish to extend the opportunity for an experience like mine to ever more professors by allowing students to carry guns on campus. But some of those teachers may not live long enough to recount it at faculty get-togethers. Some of their responses may differ from mine because they will have had time to prepare.
They might respond by packing heat themselves; to "watch out" might mean to be ready to fire directly into the middle of a class of students, hitting only the one drawing the pistol and not the one in the back of the room on the Internet ordering a present for his girlfriend, or the one in front anxiously taking notes and worrying about how a B-plus in a design-history class might look on an application to law school, or the one hunting for Kleenex in a backpack or trying to listen to the lecture or any of the other students who by now are firing at one another seeking to save the situation and countless lives and be the hero of the day. Perhaps it would be astute to return midterms with gun already drawn.
I fear it would be ill-advised to issue a gun to someone like me….
But there's even more:
I wonder whether, if my walk through the hallway had been longer, I might have used the extra time to change some grades. Surely it would be unfair, however, to reward one student for toting a gun if it would mean shortchanging other, better, students without guns, so I wonder whether on armed campuses we will see a dramatic rise in grade-point averages all around. Grades, after all, are among the few weapons in the arsenal of most professors. Students, for their part, can throw spitballs, or fire guns.
See? Guns don't just kill people. They cause grade inflation!
Makes the panic at Lehman High seem like sanity, doesn't it?