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Opinion: Writing killing into the curriculum

Woodshop. English. Math. Firearm training.

This is what high school students’ class options might look like next semester if HB 258 passes the Utah House of Representatives and Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox.

(Aubree Eckhardt/The Signpost)
HB 258 would allow students to practice with firearms as part of the curriculum. (Aubree Eckhardt/The Signpost)

HB 258 would offer high school students the option to take a firearms training course. This would focus on some gun safety, but it would be taking students out to shoot guns in an indoor or outdoor course.

However, I don’t really think this bill goes far enough. They told us to arm teachers to prevent school shootings. Well, let’s just start arming the students. Give every student a gun with their school laptop. Bullets come with the mashed potatoes at lunch.

Sure, under the current bill, students would only be firing guns with an on-site instructor, but giving them free range of using these guns will really teach them how to be responsible with a firearm. It will only take a few accidents before students start using them really carefully. I’m sure they’ll pay attention to all of those nit-picky laws. They won’t be texting their friends about shooting anyone during class.

I mean, really, let’s just hand out M-16s. Why not? We just want them to be safe in their schools, don’t we? If we think about it, the deadliest and most publicized school shootings used semi-automatic or automatic weapons, so let’s make sure they can fight back tit for tat.

I’m sure that without training on these weapons and military protocols the students will be fine. They’ll know what an active threat looks like. I’m sure no one would mow down their English teacher when they get a bad grade on a paper.

And because we’re clearly so worried about student safety here, we might as well introduce those military tactics. We’ve militarized everything else, so we might as well start a little younger. Make sure they have PTSD before they have their first kiss or driver’s license.

Really, it’s probably a me problem that I still jump at cars backfiring in a campus parking lot. It’s probably just me who looks for an escape route in every classroom I walk into. It’s probably just me who stares off into space during class, wondering what I would do if someone with a gun just walked in. I mean, it’s only been three years since I graduated. No lasting trauma was done.

There’s already rising youth depression and anxiety rates. Surely, no harm can come from allowing them to take out their frustrations. Especially not if they have a gun. Seeing what could have been themselves and their friends reflected in a list of casualties doesn’t give minors any type of survivor’s guilt or trauma. None of them deal with lockdowns more frequently than assemblies — assemblies were so last decade anyway.

And, really, learning how to use a firearm will give them better aim. I’m sure none of them will picture their bully, teacher or victim as a face on that target. I’m sure none of them have thought about killing anyone ever. Honestly, the targets won’t just be a practice run for the running targets in the hall. Maybe we should even consider adding moving targets to the curriculum just to make sure they’re prepared for war, hunting or math class.

Our legislatures were thinking about us when they decided to pass and sign into law HB 32, which no longer requires a permit to conceal carry a firearm. No training, just buying and hoping you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

I mean, let’s be honest — if you were white, you didn’t need a permit anyway. They weren’t going to stop a white person with baggy pants and a gun. I’m also sure it will be really distinguishable if it’s a 15- to 17-year-old with a firearm tucked in their pants. It will be so helpful for identifying potential threats near a school. Obviously, guns aren’t allowed inside anyway, but it’s clearly no concern.

Now, because guns will be a staple of the curriculum, guns might have to be allowed in anyway. I’m sure students will never forget their gun and have to have their parents drop it off for them. I’m sure they’ll always load it properly and won’t blow their fingers off.

And since these kids will learn so much about gun safety, they’ll probably be storing their guns in a safe. The same safe as their parents’ guns. I’m sure that could never cause a problem.

I’m sure buying guns for these children won’t give them access to a deadlier suicide method or homicidal way to end their problems.

Let’s even go another step further and make sure even more people have access to guns. If we really want to prevent school shootings, we’ll arm all students who are old enough to point and shoot. Middle schoolers, elementary students, all of them. I mean, if the third graders had guns at Sandy Hook, there would have been no problems at all.

No, I’m sure I’m the one overreacting. Clearly. I’m sure I’m the only one who is sick of seeing what could have been me on the television. I’m sure I was the only high school student after the Parkland Shooting who saw a huge increase in death threats at my school. I’m sure everyone remembers the school shooting threats in the 80s, and this is no different, right?

But, for your freedom, we will continue to let children die before they ever experience adulthood and what freedom may really look like. For your comfort, we can just ignore all the problems that this bill will cause, and you can pretend you did something to arm and protect your babies. You can just pretend you did anything that mattered when they come home from the place they were supposed to be safe in a coffin.

Just to make sure your rights aren’t violated, we will violate our nation’s children, until they only fear a failing grade, tests and being shot.

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