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Arm teachers cartoon

My son Dan, a basketball coach and phy-ed teacher, phoned the other night after hearing Donald Trump suggest that arming the nation's school teachers would solve the problem with mass shootings at our schools.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked. "You mean, I'm supposed to keep a gun somewhere in my office and run to get it if some nut comes into the gym shooting at us? And then shoot the guy as my kids are hysterically running for cover in the gym?"

Or on the playing fields outside the school or, perhaps, even at a basketball game?

But yes, that's what I think Trump and our own attorney general, Brad Schimel, think ought to happen.

To be fair, those who think the answer to school shootings is to arm the teachers (or, at least, a healthy chunk of them, Trump now says) don't all believe that armed teachers will alone scare off the "nutsos." They're counting on a premise that if the lunatics know there are teachers inside a school who will fire back at them, they won't try to enter the school in the first place.

Many psychiatrists, noting that in most cases the shooters hope to either get shot themselves or commit suicide, aren't so sure that removing those "gun free zone" signs from the school doors will turn do anything at all.

Chuck Todd, the "Meet the Press" host, asked a bushel full of questions that need to be answered before the nation dives into this dubious proposition. Where will the weapons be kept in the school? Will teachers know who among them has a weapon? How will it be safeguarded after school hours? Will it be in a safe or locked in a desk and, if so, how to do you quickly access it? Who will monitor the weapon-carrying teachers to make sure they remain qualified? What if an innocent student is injured or killed by the teacher's weapon? Will after-school practices, rehearsals, music programs and other extracurricular activities be covered? The list of possible situations is endless.

It's ironic, isn't it, that Wisconsin and a few other states have reduced teacher pay and benefits in recent years and now want them to not only close the achievement gap and prepare the kids for the challenges of new workplaces, but to serve as law enforcement officers at the same time.

Obviously, there are few teachers who think this is at all a good idea. I listened to some of them on the news shows the past few days and they expressed horror at, first, having to pick out the shooter in a crowded hallway and, second, pulling the trigger to hopefully kill the right person.

"I can see the lawsuits now," said one.

But "solutions" like this is another example of how we can't simply fix problems anymore. Take health care. Instead of fixing the system so that all Americans get health coverage, we pass half-baked and jury-rigged "solutions" that ultimately fail.

Instead of facing up to our incredible problem with firearms, we focus on half-way "solutions" like arming teachers or increasing the age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

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Neither is an answer to curtailing our love affair with guns. But it's the way, thanks to special interests wielding enormous sway over gutless politicians, that we fail so many people.

"What's wrong with the United States?" people in other countries ask.

Don't you wish we knew?

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. 

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