last friday, south dakota's governor signed a bill which will allow teachers to carry firearms into their K-12 classrooms in the state of my birth. the bill does not mandate that teachers carry a firearm, but it authorizes an ominously-named "sentinel" who has had training (ala law enforcement training), to carry a gun on school premises. (you can see a whole list of all the bills he signed on friday here - there is probably reason to be alarmed on numerous counts, but that's another story.)
when i first read it in a new york times facebook post on friday, my initial reaction was a flush of embarrassment. people know i'm originally from south dakota and they will ask me about it, holding me responsible, taking me to task (tho' i haven't voted in south dakota for years (i vote in illinois, as it was the last state where i lived before moving to denmark)). but people took me personally to task back in the era of the monica lewinsky saga - "what are you doing to your president?" ("what monica did, given the chance," was always my pithy answer). alas i have no pithy answer for this one.
after a couple of days of thinking, my embarrassment hasn't abated. mostly, i think that south dakota was duped into this by a clever gun lobby. they got some numbskull of a freshman member of the house to introduce the bill, fed him a bunch of lines about it making schools safer, especially rural, isolated schools (where, to my knowledge, there have been no shootings) and some ego-stroking about being on the leading edge of the arming teachers movement and the republican-controlled legislature and governor steamed it right through. without thought or substantive debate. and frankly, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. and if they're not, i'm certainly feeling ashamed enough for them too.
even the largest newspaper in the state, the sioux falls argus-leader (which my parents refer to as the scene of the crime, since they met there), hasn't had a single editorial on the topic (at least not that i can find online). and they too should be ashamed of themselves.
a powerful gun lobby pushes such an detestable piece of legislation through in a conservative, sparsely-populated state and thinks it will start a domino effect of legislation in other states. and sadly, they're probably right. because we now live in a world where we legislate our to alleviate our fears. lawmakers are reactive, not proactive. but all of the legislation in the world can't prevent the lunacy of an individual with easy access to firearms.
these school shootings that have been happening (for years now - i remember one in the early 90s when i was a student at the university of iowa) are tragic and horrible and shouldn't happen. but how anyone can think that ensuring that there are guns present in a school can possibly help is simply beyond my ability to logically comprehend.