I'm a Professor, Not a SWAT Team Member

[Content Note: Guns.]

I'm a professor of history. What does that mean? It means that I attended graduate school and learned not only about the current scholarship in my field, but also the skills necessary to produce scholarship of my own. I proved this by writing a doctoral dissertation. Today, my job is divided in three: teaching, research, and service (which means things like sitting on committees to run my department, my college, and my university).

What my training and job do not include is detecting and neutralizing armed threats. Not only do I not have that training, I also don't have regular reinforcement of that (non-existent) training, nor the kind of equipment to carry it out.

It's not that I can't fire guns. Admittedly, it's been a long while since I've done so, and I definitely need practice. And it's not that I don't have "military training." I served in the Navy.

But those things--being able to fire a gun, having some long-ago basic weapons training--those things are not what is necessary to respond to an armed assailant in a crowded school.

Unlike the jackasses in Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia, who apparently think that any old person can do what a SWAT team does, I actually have respect for law enforcement. I understand that it takes a lot of training, and a particular set of aptitudes, in order to do that kind of work. I understand that what they do is not a matter of attending a training session or two. I also understand that they get paid to be alert to danger, and to proactively respond to it. That's their job, and I respect that. I even understand that not all law enforcement and security forces have the same training, that some are very specially trained to handle things like hostage situations or gunmen who threaten large crowds.

But that is not my job. My job involves things like palaeography and reading microfilm, or grading papers, or going to yet another meeting about campus recycling. Nor is it the job of teachers at the elementary and secondary level.Their jobs are focused more on teaching and service than mine, and their training is a little different from mine--they take classes on their subject area and on the actual craft of educating, rather than focusing on how to produce scholarship. But you know what they don't take classes on? How to take down an armed gunman without shooting innocent civilians. At least, they don't teach that at my university's College of Education.

There are people who are willing to, as a profession, put their lives on the line to protect others. I have enormous respect for that. I appreciate the police force that helps keep my campus safe, and I try to communicate to them that I respect all that they do. So, conservatives, please: stop proposing these ridiculous laws that suggest I could do their job. I can't. For people who claim to respect law enforcement, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

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