An open letter to the Ohio Senate 133rd General Assembly regarding Senate Bill 137: Exempt from training if allowed to go armed in school safety zone
[Jesus said] “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?” (Matthew 6:9-10)
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a lesson, will show them a gun?
Asking a teacher to carry a gun into a classroom is asking for trouble. It introduces the means of deadly accident, of impulsive and irreversible injury, to a place that should be intent on the promotion of life and flourishing. It increases the escalation of violence in our communities, the reliance on violent force to quell our fears. Caution: the threat of violence does not diminish the risk of actual physical and moral injury.
Asking a teacher to carry a gun as though they go into battle when they go into school, even when they are not trained as soldiers, is asking for trouble. Specifically exempting such faculty and staff from proper training in the deployment or restraint of their weapons in the course of their work is actively courting trouble.
I commend to you the report of the American Bar Association: they have done the research. I do the preaching.
Introducing the means of deadly force to an environment where already those most in need of protection from discrimination and indignity are those most likely to suffer from them ratchets up the righteous anxiety of those students. It is asking for trouble.
The introduction of a deadly weapon to a classroom, even if the worst never happens, risks moral injury. To carry a gun is to consider using it. It introduces a note of defensiveness and offensive weaponry to every social interaction. It diminishes the scope of our compassion by offering a solution to situations that bypasses more patient and difficult means of resolution. It does not belong in an environment designed to provoke problem-solving, learning, and the growth and flourishing of young lives.
The Ohio legislature, as other bodies with similar influence, would do better to invest in reducing the occasions for gun violence than participating in the proliferation of deadly weapons in hands that are not at war.
You may already be familiar with what Jesus said about stumbling blocks, little ones, millstones, and the sea (Matthew 18:6).
“Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks!” Jesus continued. “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” Matthew 18:7)
Of all the people who might introduce a gun into a classroom full of children, let it not be you; let it not be on behalf of me.
This letter was edited slightly from its direct delivery to the committee considering the Bill and to my own district senator.