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UPDATE: NCAE head agrees with GOP - Teachers should be armed.

Yeah, I know: I, too, was shocked when the head of the N.C. Association of Educators told me that the state's teachers should be armed.

Randolph County Republican Rep. Jerry Tillman was deservedly excoriated, talked about, laughed at when he put forth a bill that would allow some teachers to bring guns into the classroom in case a gunman attacked.

But when Mark Jewell, head of NCAE, said he, too, thought legislators should arm teachers, that was a head-scratcher.

Of course, Jewell quickly clarified that he didn't think teachers should be bringing Glocks and Gats and .357s into the classroom.

"We urge the General Assembly to arm us," Jewell told me recently, "with school counselors, nurses and social workers.

"Arm us with psychologists to help address the health needs of our kids," he continued. "Arm us with pencils and paper and supplies and textbooks and technology.

"We say 'If you want to pay us an extra five percent' - (Tillman's bill would pay a bonus to teachers who tote) - 'pay us for the Masters degree that you took away from us in 2013.'

"It's really disappointing, Jewell said, "that this came from Tillman, who is a retired principal. It's a really bad, dangerous piece of legislation. Guns don't belong in schools. Period."

Jewell is, of course, correct. Teachers need, want and deserve more money and respect, but - hear me out now - I think Tillman's "School Self-Defense Act" could provide both.

It just didn't go far enough: Instead of giving teachers the option of "to be or not to be" strapped, being strapped should be mandatory.

You read that right: every graduate who aspires to teach, upon receiving her or his diploma, should be required to go out back behind the auditorium and take a marksmanship test.

They could, for instance, be required to shoot an apple off the top of the head of any legislator who favors this bill.

Not only that, but they should get extra pay the bigger their weapon is. After all, a teacher carrying a .22 can't expect to receive the same payment as one with a .38 in her lunchbox, can she?

What about the teacher who brings a bazooka for maximum protection, or a surface-to-air missile?

Wouldn't he deserve more than one who thinks he can stop a marauding gunman with a mere .357?

As far as respect is concerned - do you think a teacher who enters the classroom lugging a surface-to-air missile wouldn't have that?

In a recent News & Observer interview, Tillman said his Torpedoes for Teachers program "is an idea whose time has come."

And as we all know, nothing, as Victor Hugo wrote, is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Never mind that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., to which they point often as a perfect example of why we need to turn schools into armed encampments, had an armed - albeit duty-duckin' - deputy on site.

That didn't prevent a gunman from killing 17 people.

Never mind, also, that the Washington Post, in studying U.S. Education Department records since the Columbine School massacre in 1999, puts the statistical likelihood of a student being killed at school by a gun on any given day at 614,000,000 to 1.

Tillman still wants harried, overworked teachers who haven't taken an oath to "serve and protect" to instantly transform into Dirty Harry the instant an armed threat arises.

Go ahead, punk. Make Mrs. Neimeyer's day.

Nope, that couldn't possibly go wrong.

Here's another benefit if Tillman's bill passes: You know that teacher shortage we've been complaining about in North Carolina as other states come in and poach ours with offers of higher pay?

That'd be a thing of the past. Other states's reps will instantly stop crossing the state line to recruit the teachers we've educated and trained, lest they receive a load of buckshot in their abacuses.

Also, it could be an effective recruiting tool.

Lemme get this straight, hoss. Y'all gon' pay me to carry a gun as I go about a decidedly non-threatening job on the one-in-614-million chance there'll be an attack?

Where do I sign?

Wanna know how to make schools less of the "soft target" that Tillman and others decry?

More guns. Here, sung to the tune of Jackie DeShannon's What the World Needs Now Is Love are Singers. Maestro, hit it:

What the schools need now

is guns, more guns

No not just for some

but for everyone...

Lord, we don't need another textbook.

There are textbooks and poetry books enough to rhyme.

There are math books and geometry books and comic books to last

til the end of time.

What the schools need now is guns, more guns

Give us all the big 'uns, and yes, the little 'uns.

What the schools need now

is guns, more guns

No, not just for some

but for ev...ev...ev...everyone.

ones who bring a .357, a bazooka, hell, a ground-to-air grenade launcher.The main




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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