Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms. Perhaps in this day and age of confused fear of violence, some Americans like, oh, say, school teachers should have an official obligation to know a little something about firearms.
Here’s the latest chapter in scary school silliness. In deep southern Illinois this week, Kristy Jackson went to pick up her four-year-old son Hunter from pre-school. She was greeted by an extremely unhappy teacher who said the little boy had brought to school a dangerous “shotgun bullet.”
Never mind there’s no such thing. Jackson was shocked, but also puzzled because her son had just spent a bonding afternoon learning the beginnings of gun safety from his grandfather, a police officer.
The stern teacher led Hunter’s Mom to the principal’s office. There, she was handed the evidence that had condemned her son, a tiny empty .22 shell casing.
According to Jackson’s reasoned account on Facebook, she was also silently handed a piece of paper. It explained that Hunter’s behavior warranted a sentence of a seven-day suspension from school. “I still was expected to pay tuition, of course. And a threat that if his enthusiasm for guns continued, he’d be permanently expelled.”
Jackson said she wouldn’t have condoned taking even an empty casing to school, had she known. Then added in sadness, “Here’s the thing. This was a teaching moment. He never hurt anyone, or threatened anyone. This could literally happen to ANY CHILD who happened to find one on the ground and thought it was cool. He does not have access to ANY weapon in our home. This could have been handled by explaining appropriate behavior at school.”
Of course, that would have required a real teacher doing some real teaching. Jackson is not the only parent who believes education can occur at home too, and proactive early education is preventive and much better than hindsight after a tragedy.
A quick personal note: As a youngster, I was eager for my father’s first gun-safety lesson. We took my grandfather’s .38 behind our rural home and set up a thick board. “Here,” my father said, “it’s not loaded.”
As I reached eagerly for the shiny pistol, it went off with a terrifying blast that blew a large hole in the board. I may have uttered something that deserved a mouth-washing with soap. “Everyone says every gun is not loaded,” Dad said. “Never forget that.”
Clearly, I haven’t.