The Indignities of Security

Apparently, America likes its military so much that it wants to militarize the whole of society. Some are even recommending arming school teachers in order to enhance security. I’ve got my doubts about that, and if you think about the teachers you had in school, you’ll have your doubts, too. I’m pretty sure arming my teachers would have made me a whole lot less secure, not more.

Transmetropolitan speaks on gun control
Transmetropolitan speaks on gun control by Niklas Pivic via Flickr

Speaking of security, I’ve just got back from a trip and endured the indignities of airline security so many times that I now expect a complete stranger to put her hands inside my underwear at airports. It’s alarming what you can get used to. You don’t have to like it; you just have to get used to it.

That, I think, is the danger.  Americans don’t like the proliferation of guns, but they’ve got used to it.  They don’t like the ease with which a person of almost any age can buy a gun, but they’ve got used to it. They don’t like the lack of background checks, but they’ve got used to it.

People in general really don’t like change very much, so we need to be careful about what we get used to. We may be trapping ourselves in dangerous habits just to avoid the uncertainty of change.

My home is in Canada, which has a society a lot like American society. As in the United States, we have large rural areas in which people arm themselves with guns for hunting and for protection. We also have lots of gun collectors and target shooters. We have about a third of the gun ownership of the US population, and only about one-seventh of the homicide rate. That is still high compared with other countries, but markedly better than the US statistics.

The big difference is in the ease with which Americans can buy guns as compared to Canadians. A recent National Post article considered the likelihood of various American mass shootings happening in Canada, and it begins by pointing out that: “Nobody legally buys a gun in Canada without first taking the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. Then, they have to submit an application for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), where they’re screened by the RCMP [police] for risk factors such as criminal history and mental health.” As a consequence, there is a considerable delay between the desire to buy a gun and the actual purchase. The conclusion of the article is that most of those tragic events probably would not have happened north of the border.

If you have a need to kill living beings for food or to defend yourself from dangerous living beings, then you need a gun. It comes down to food and fear. I get my food from the grocery store, there are no dangerous animals in my neighbourhood, and so far I haven’t come across any life-threatening humans. Consequently, I am neither hungry nor fearful, and I don’t know anyone who is.

It saddens me to think that school students anywhere are so insecure that they need armed security guards and police on site, and that they are locked into their schools to keep out dangerous intruders. If I thought that arming their teachers would make them safer or feel more secure I might approve, but I am fairly certain that it would have the opposite effect.

Just as I have become resigned to the indignities of airport security, the students might get used to their militarized school, but they won’t like it, and they probably won’t be any safer.






  1. As I mentioned to someone recently, if the green light is given to arm teachers then as sure as eggs are eggs it will only be a matter of time before a teacher is forcibly disarmed and shot with their own weapon.
    The most I ever had to fear at school from an ”armed” teacher was one who was an expert at throwing a board duster!

    • Right! I remember my school’s headmaster was also armed with a cane which was used to punish particularly egregious crimes … or so we were lead to understand. I know the threat was always there, and anyone standing outside the headmaster’s office was in fear of it, but I have no idea how often it was used, if at all.

      The whole “good guy with a gun can beat a bad guy with a gun” theory seems ridiculous to me. The problem is with the guns, not the goodness or badness of the person holding it.

  2. Well said! I agree! I cannot imagine any of my teachers being able, much less interested in being armed! All the folks I knew who owned guns lived off their kills! As you point out we do have grocery stores these days.

    • Thanks, Jane. I know that people who live in remote and rural areas still hunt their food, and that hunting is a significant component of their culture. For those of us who live in urban areas, though, I think that argument for gun ownership is unsound.

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