Guest Column: Explaining guns from a teacher’s perspective

03/10/2018 5:58 AM |

I am not qualified to describe the characteristics of weapons. I have no background in weaponry. When average people like me comment about gun laws the gun lobby (and my congressman, Lee Zeldin) quickly use semantics to, in their opinion, disqualify me.

My professional experiences, on the other hand, qualify me to address the consequences of those weapons. I am a registered nurse with over 30 years of experience and had a second career as a high school teacher. I proudly carry licenses for both of those professions. I do not have a gun license.

As a nurse I can tell you that pretty much any gun can kill — I’ve seen it. It’s just not as easy to inflict a fatal injury with handguns or conventional rifles. It is certainly not easy to inflict fatal injuries on large numbers of people with them.

Weapons such as the AR-15 are rapid fire and high velocity. They inflict devastating injuries. Dr. Heather Sher, a radiologist who assessed students from the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, described horrific injuries — organs torn apart. That is because of the extreme velocity of bullets fired by these rifles. Dr. Sher spoke of a colleague who went to the school to wait for his child. He was an experienced trauma physician but was unable to help the victims due to the severity of their injuries. A surgeon who operated on one of the kids found an internal organ in shreds. The child couldn’t be saved. No one needs to own a weapon that causes that type of damage. I repeat, no private citizen who is not in a “well-regulated militia” needs to own such a weapon!

As a teacher I can tell you that arming teachers to save lives is insane. I worked in a high school for 12 years.

Where are these guns supposed to be stored? If they are locked effectively the carnage will be complete before they can be released. Most school shootings last only a few minutes. Thanks to the speed of semi-automatic weapons a normal, happy school can be turned into a killing field in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea.

Who will be responsible when a student finds the gun safe and figures out how to open it? Do you really believe kids won’t figure it out? My uncle was an officer in the NYPD. He had a hidden, locked gun safe and hid the key.

My cousins knew where both were kept. Kids are observant and resourceful. Just ask any mother who has tried to hide Christmas gifts. What about kids caught in the crossfire between a teacher with inadequate training and a lunatic?

Some military veterans have never worked in combat. They had weapons training but that doesn’t qualify them to serve in this capacity. The New York City Police Department reported an 18 percent accuracy rate among highly trained officers returning fire. And they were on the job with guns at the ready, not administering a math test. They certainly didn’t have to fire at a child who had sat in their classroom.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. We keep watching our children get slaughtered but defending the rights of gun owners over the rights of: our kids, concert-goers, people at religious services, shoppers, etc.

It’s time for a change. The NRA is bankrolled by the gun industry. Many of our representatives (think Mr. Zeldin) are bankrolled by the NRA. Connect the dots. It is time for a change and if the representatives who were bought and paid for by the NRA won’t make changes then we need to vote them out!

The author worked at New York Cornell (now New York Presbyterian) and St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington during her nursing career. She taught at Amityville High School from 2004 to 2016.

Photo credit: Kit Case/Flickr