College Professor: I love my students but I won’t use a gun to protect them By: S.H. Blannelberry

(Photo: NY Times)

Poet Beth Ann Fennelly teaches at the University of Mississippi and in a recent op-ed in The New York Times, she made her position clear that although she loves her students, she will not use a gun to protect them from an active shooter. 

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While talking about her classroom preparations for the upcoming school year, she mentions a tactical prep in which she examines how the door locks, imagines a way to barricade it, and locates the “hard corner,” the corner farthest from the door but on the same wall.  

“The [hard] corner where I’ll drape my body over as many of their 20 bodies as I can, like a sea anemone draping an iceberg,” Fennelly writes.  

“I’m mentally preparing to protect my students from an active shooter,” she continues. “This fact splits my sternum with an ice pick of despair. But please don’t offer me a gun.”

Really, Ms. Fennelly?  At that moment you’d rather be unarmed than armed?  

Everyone has a choice and no one should be forced to carry if they don’t want to.  But at the same time, there is a way to gain some agency in that moment and avoid being relegated to a sitting duck. 

Learn how to shoot!  Become a capably armed individual!  

If you, Ms. Fennelly, can convince students that the “transformative power of literature is hard work,” surely you can also be convinced that becoming a responsible concealed carrier is not an impossible feat!  

In fact, as of 2020, there were over 18 million concealed carry permit holders nationwide, per USCCA.  

I know you don’t think this is a viable solution as you were critical of the FASTER (“Faculty & Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response”) training program put on by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation that’s mission is to arm teachers, faculty, and administrators.  

What you want, Ms. Fennelly, are the laws to be enforced.   

As you write, “Teachers have hard jobs. Let’s focus our energy on opening minds, not barricading doors. For that to happen, we need gun laws fixed, then enforced. So, hey, lawmakers and lobbyists: Instead of urging those on the last line of defense to take up arms, how about you all on the first lines actually stand up and do your jobs? Then we’d know what good guys look like, at last.”

But enforcing existing laws and even passing new ones are not going to solve this problem.  For example, you tout the merits of, what gun-control advocates call, “universal background checks.” 

A recent article published by sums up why expanded background checks aren’t the panacea proponents make them out to be, especially in the context of active shooters.  

According to a recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ) report on public mass shootings from 1966 through 2019, 77 percent of the perpetrators bought guns legally. In some cases, teenagers or young adults obtained guns from their families. Just 13 percent of mass shooters obtained firearms through illegal transactions. In other words, background checks would have been no obstacle in 87 percent of the cases.

While I doubt Ms. Fennelly will ever come around to seeing things my way, the one thing we can agree on is that school shootings are statistically rare events and less common today than they were in the ’90s, as GunsAmerica previously reported.  The widespread hysteria over these events is not warranted.

As criminologist James Alan Fox remarked, backyard swimming pools and beaches pose more of a threat to school children than active shooters.  Over the past decade, roughly 10 children died each year from gunfire at schools (including the Uvalde attack) out of 50 million students nationwide.  

“Hundreds of children die every year in drowning accidents,” Fox explained in a May interview with “We need lifeguards at pools more than armed guards at schools.” 

Students should understand that the odds of them dying at the hands of an active shooter are roughly the odds of them being struck by lightning or dying in an earthquake (10 million to 1).  

Of course, these tragic events still happen.  And there are no guarantees for any of us.  Save one, you will fight as you have trained.