So this is happening in my state…go ahead and watch, I’ll wait.
Every time Sheriff Joe’s name comes up in the news (and it’s pretty often, because no one loves a camera more than Joe Arpaio, unless it’s Gloria Allred; I always think the two of them should get married and then disintegrate each other in an energetic Thunderdome, each annihilating the other with their respective insatiable need for publicity and attention), I take a couple aspirin and prepare to take a nap, because it’s not going to be good, and Sheriff Joe and the rest of the 100-year shitstorm that comes out of our state government in Phoenix doesn’t exist when I’m asleep.
Denial and avoidance: they work.
Anyway, I was teaching at Canyon del Oro High School here in Tucson the day of the 1999 Columbine shootings. Mine was a portable classroom on the north campus with a single window at the back of the room, and a door that locked from the outside only. That afternoon, they pulled all the teachers in for a meeting, as I’m sure they did in schools all over the nation, to discuss what had happened and what our own plan would be for such an emergency. It basically involved a lock-down, and no one knew what to say to me when I asked what teachers in portables were supposed to do when their only option was to walk away from their students, open an opaque door when they had no idea what was on the other side of it, step outside into who knows what, turn their back to lock the door, and then somehow, safely, slip back inside with their students. And no changes were made to remedy that situation. Not a one.
A sensible answer would’ve been to put bulletproof glass in all classroom windows, and change all door locks to be secured from the inside of a classroom, but we don’t really do sensible here in Arizona. A lot of folks here think the answer to every problem, from narcotraffic to immigration to poverty, is lots and lots of guns. Arizona never really got over its Old West roots, and there are plenty of people who would love nothing more than to dispense justice via a shootout on Main Street or in a school lunchroom, living out their fantasies of subduing evildoers through their cunning, marksmanship, and general heroism. We spent years trying to keep guns off school grounds, and now Sheriff Joe is inviting them onto those very same campuses. Because the kind of people who would volunteer for an armed posse are no doubt of the highest quality, discernment, and discretion, and should definitely be hanging out around children with safeties off.
As it turns out, many of them who have signed up are not only questionable, at least in my view, for itching to be a part of an armed posse, they are also possessed of criminal records, some with crimes that would, to my knowledge, make them ineligible for legal gun ownership or being within spitting distance of young people, including a convicted sex offender who preyed on children.
But it’s okay…they’re being adequately trained by action film actor Steven Seagal. I’m sure it’ll be fine. What could possibly go wrong?