Lockdown: A Teacher's Thoughts

The "gun violence" and Sandy Hook speakers at the Democrat Convention reminded me of a recent event that took place in my own school.  Toward the end of the school year, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that I had never heard: "we are in lockdown.  This is not a drill."  A teacher stuck her head in my classroom.  "Lockdown."

I thought back to the mandatory safety training that was required after Sandy Hook and the past practice drills we had, but this one was...real?  OK.  Lock the door.  Cover the glass window of the door.  Shut the lights.  Shut the shades.  Keep my 30 students quiet while putting them in a corner out of sight of the door.  Fast.  I watched them as they watched me.  I was calm, reminding them to be quiet and assuring myself that this was probably still a false alarm.  I smiled as they sat nervously on the floor.

After a minute, I wondered what I would do if this was not a false alarm.  What could I do?  The door is wood with a glass window.  Could someone kick it in?  Could he crack the glass and open the door?  Maybe.  Then what?  But it was too soon to worry.  It was probably a false alarm. 

Two minutes passed, and I thought about our location.  Second floor, right next to the center hall staircase.  Sixty little eyes watched my face, and I promised myself that they would see a brave face.  I think I succeeded, because they calmed down a bit and remained very quiet.  I whispered to them now and told them that we were safe and that everything was going to be fine.  I could see the relaxation come over them as I spoke.

Three minutes passed, and I reminded myself that I was safe at work.  What are the odds of something bad happening?  Then again, the most common reason for a lockdown is when someone suspicious enters the building.

Seconds dragged.  I could see worry on their tiny faces.  Could they sense my concern?  I again reassured them that we were fine.  I almost hated myself for giving them what could have been a false sense of security.  Though I resented feeling defenseless, my main concern was protecting in the event of the unthinkable.  My heart sank as I realized that I couldn't.

I started to wonder how long it would take for the cops to arrive.  Would it matter?  Somebody had called the cops, right?  I heard walking in the hallway.  I gave a smile and a nod to the children.  I don't know why, and I didn't know who was walking in the hallway.

All was quiet.  That was a good sign, right?  No.  It was too quiet.

At that crucial moment, it occurred to me that the only way for me to have even a chance of protecting myself and my children against an armed intruder was with a gun.

I understand that many people are uncomfortable with an armed teacher, but many are not uncomfortable with an armed guard.  Those who want to protect the children from "gun violence" say the chance of tragedy is so slim that it is not worth the risk of a teacher carrying a gun.  But if the chance of tragedy is so slim, why even pass these laws?  "Because if it saves just one life, it's worth it."  This doesn't answer the real question: how am I to protect myself and those I am responsible for if left defenseless against a gunman?

To prevent another tragedy, we are told we must do something.  This took the political expression of passing gun laws that restrict and violate our constitutional right to self-defense.  Gun control advocates reminded us at the Democrat Convention that the guns used in a few of the recent tragedies were obtained legally.  While this may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, in any free society, there is always a risk that someone will exploit that freedom and use it to harm others.  This risk cannot be eliminated without eliminating all our freedoms.  James Madison warned, "Destroying liberty is a cure worse than the disease itself."  Playing on our emotions, these gun control advocates are happy to exploit a tragedy to push an agenda.

Overall, the lockdown lasted under five minutes and was indeed a false alarm.  Quietly, everyone went back to their seats, and we went about our day – learning, sharing, laughing.

I realized that only we can protect ourselves in the event of the unthinkable.  We have a right to self-defense, but if we don't have the right to the guns, then the right to self-defense is theoretical.  The fact is that no matter what we do or how many laws we pass, our schoolchildren are still vulnerable, even in a city with the toughest gun laws around.

I wondered as I sat alone in my car driving home later that day: since gun laws will stop no motivated criminal, why do they really want us defenseless?

Mary Anne Marcella is a parent and a New York City public school teacher who cares tremendously about her own children and her students.  She resides in Connecticut and can be reached at maryannem@optonline.net.

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