Replacing Paddles with Guns is Not the Answer By Cheryll Boswell

Condolences and empty words of sympathy are the only things that seem all too consistent from politicians to grieving families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. Why is it so difficult to get legislation passed to control guns or enact restrictions on firearms after hundreds of children have been massacred while sitting in classrooms, as hundreds of defenseless adults enjoying themselves at a concert are gunned down, and thousands of individuals in black communities have lost their lives to gun violence? Recently I read the ban on AR-15’s, and other gun control laws won’t change in Florida, but teachers will be allowed to carry guns in the classroom.

While everyone believes school safety is a high a priority, the President the United States believes the answer to school safety is arming teachers with a gun. My thoughts went back to the time my youngest daughter was in first grade at Woodrow Wilson. Her dad and I went to parent- teacher conferences; we thought we had a good rapport with her teacher. We knew our daughter was and still is a good kid. Late one day while I was working at a financial institution, her teacher came in, and I transacted her banking business. In a general conversation while waiting on her, she said, “oh, by the way, I had to swat your daughter.” My neck did a 180-degree turn because I wanted to make sure I heard her. After confirming what she just said, I had to put the brakes on every thought and emotion flowing through my mind. My instinct was to jump across that counter and kick her @$%. The only thing that stopped me from coming across the counter was I needed to get to my child and not be in jail. While this form of corporal punishment has since been outlawed in public schools, I was unaware it was allowed in schools in 1988. To this day I don’t know what that teacher’s perceived justification for hitting my six-year child with a wooden paddle was. It still bothers me that this teacher could casually mention she hit my child and say it in a tone that she had the right to do it, and I (the mom) should be okay with it.

Fast forward 30 years later and imagine how this conversation or my reaction would have gone, if this paddle would have been a gun? Arming teachers is not just a ridiculous idea; it will create more racial tension and trigger more tragic outcomes instead of eliminating them.

The difficulty in getting gun laws passed rest with the stronghold the National Rifle Association lobbyist has on our elected officials and one particular NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer. Though not an elected official, Ms. Hammer is the former head of the NRA. She is known for creating policies and using a strong-arm to get bills passed through legislation. Hammer can be credited for crafting the Stand Your Ground laws in Florida. She is also known for creating gun laws in Florida that set a precedent and makes it easy for other states to adopt. Some of the laws make it possible for elected officials to lose their jobs or be fined thousands of dollars if they attempt to establish gun regulations stricter than those imposed at the state level.

Teachers don’t need to be packing guns in a classroom. There are other ways to make schools safe. Replacing paddles with guns in the name of education is not the answer. Teachers should be armed with more money in their paychecks and provided more supplies so they can adequately teach. We all must speak up and not let laws in Florida set a precedent for Illinois.