G is For Gun – An Introduction

By all accounts, the brutal shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December of 2012 was a turning point in much of the national psyche. It galvanized both sides of the gun debate to take new action, and it changed the way schools thought about security and safety. As debates about firearms and public safety have ratcheted with each mass murder in the United States, many individuals and schools around the nation have already decided to take matters into their own hands. In some states, like Utah, it has long been legal for anyone with a concealed carry license to bring a gun to school, and many employees do. In other states, schools have found loopholes in state laws prohibiting firearms, and have found staff to volunteer to carry guns. Shockingly, no one official federal or state body has been keeping count of how many schools across the nation have armed staff, and in many communities, even the parents and the general public remained uninformed.

G is for Gun: The Arming of America’s Teachers is more than a project about building awareness; it is about empowering the public to make and participate in decisions affecting their schools, their communities, and the larger society in which they live. The debate over armed of public school employees is emblematic of many of the same political and cultural divides so pronounced in America today. Encompassing highly-charged and critical debates about gun legislation; the provision of robust social services; the shape and purpose of public education; issues of race, class, gender, and security; and the role of local, state, and federal powers in making change; this issue reflects a multitude of social issues that divide us.

This website and accompanying curriculum guide is designed to help us to make sense of the larger social, political, and historic context that has given rise to school shootings and to the growing response with arms. Often boiled down to a stance of “more guns” or “fewer guns,” the mainstream debate often ignores the larger social questions at the root of this violence and our response to it as a society. We hope that this project will provide a forum for dialogue about the deeper issues at stake in this debate.