Yesterday, I saw a video clip in which Trump recommended teachers carry a gun at school. You can see the video here.
The idea seemed stupid to me, but I thought I’d ask a friend who served for a long time in many conflicts in the British special forces (“the Regiment“) . Mark is not shy about his ideas, and he’s always a pleasure to get a pint with.
You can read his response below. The first part is his thoughts on weapons, the second is more philosophical/religious in nature. I thought of only adding the first part, but here is Mark’s email in its entirety.
firstly your right, it is a crazy idea and it unfortunately shows this man’s complete lack of understanding the realities of combat. His comments remind me a team job with Kuwaitis during the first Gulf war in preparing them to go back in to their country to fight the Iraqis. During one of the training sessions of basic infantry tactics for the attack against a fixed enemy defended position it was asked of the recruits if they have any questions on what they have just be taught, and practiced. I now tell you the God’s honest truth, one of the recruits stuck up his hand, he thanked us for what we had taught them but, then asked what would Rambo do to solve the situation we had created for them to deal with? What I am getting at is that so many people, because of films and TV’s depiction of combat, people actually think that is what it is like, and I think Trump has come to the same conclusions based upon what we hear of his diet of TV every day. One would have liked to think he would have been briefed on what to say or if he had any sense he should have asked his military advisors to give him some direction if such a proposal is workable and achievable, but it would seem he didn’t receive or ask for either, or quite possible, ignored what anyone else has had to say which, seems to be par for course for him.
There are some other things to consider as well. Regardless how adept someone is with a firearm, there is a big difference from standing on a range at a fixed position, with ear defenders on to reduce the noise, and firing at a paper target that does not shoot back, compared to a situation that is fluid, intense because the target can shoot back, the full sound, not only of the rounds going off but the screams and shouts of those going into a panic or those actually hit. This needs complete situational awareness to remain focused and to know when, and when not to fire, especially when other innocent civilians are around. A bullet necessarily doesn’t stop at the first person it hits, again that is dependent of velocity of munitions used, type of weapon, and where the individual is hit.
Another factor to consider is the will to kill. I remember attending a study in London by a US army officer, on honing the soldier’s ability to create the will to kill. He produced some figures from and including the Second World War up until the present time of soldiers interviewed post conflict. They were asked when they were shooting at the enemy, how many were actually aiming at them to kill them? I can’t remember the exact percentage but it was something between 30-40% aimed to miss. Now, there are what we call our survival instincts which can kick in almost immediately to protect ourselves, but when you have time to think, and you hear the approaching danger, most are gripped by fear, and the fight or flight scenario kicks in. For most it would be flight because now they have entered into a scenario that they have never been in before, and this is what causes the fear, and in this case, it is to make the conscious decision to kill the individual, and if your killer instinct has not been honed you probably won’t kill, and shoot to miss.
What comes to mind is the scenario played out in ‘Saving Private Ryan’. You have a typist taken from the beaches of Omaha because he can speak German and can assist in the task given. But the problem is that although he is in uniform, and would have received the minimum of basic training to use his firearm to protect himself, he was not a killer. The scene in defending the town at the end brings this out. Everything was in his favour when going up those steps, there was a struggle going on above him, but here is all the noise, the shouting and the screams of those in the life and death struggle, confusion of battle going on about him, the unknown of what is actually up there, and the thought that now he has to kill. The dreaded ‘time to think’ and he loses it. He becomes paralysed with fear and can’t do that which is necessary to save the life of his comrade. That is why for the infantry soldier you are drilled and drilled and drilled again, so that when you enter those experiences your drills take over.
There is much more I could say on the psychology of this but there is no way that arming teachers is the solution to the problem in the States. I am sure there may be the odd one that may do that which is necessary but the demeanour of most teachers would be like that character in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, they are teachers, their minds have been structured that way. There neither would be the time nor, I would think, the inclination of the teachers themselves to be trained in combat techniques to teach them to kill without hesitation.
As always mate I rabbit on and I could go on as to what the solution could be. But it is a remedy that the world does not want to hear. All issues of violence are issues of the heart, as Jesus stated, ‘for out of the abundance of a man’s heart his mouth speaks.‘ We are not what we believe but what we do. The problem with the modern American mind in dealing with this problem is that they don’t know their own history, and because of that they are wishing upon themselves a totalitarian state to solve their problem by getting the government to solve it. Yet the founding fathers said the stability of a Republic, in not becoming totalitarian state, was to have a virtuous people, as Ben Franklin stated, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” And this is what all these protests are really about, they say they are blaming the NRA and politicians and the gun lobby, but in essence what is it really being said but they will not acknowledge it, is that they, the people are not virtuous, and are fulfilling what Franklin stated, that they have need of masters.
And to think that government can solve the problem flies directly in the face of what another founding father stated, Thomas Jefferson, “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.” The clear elephant in the room is that if you do not have a virtuous people, who do they select? None but unvirtuous leaders and unvirtuous leaders become dictators.
Thomas Jefferson went on to say, “Virtue is not hereditary.” Therefore the founders looked to the home, the schools and the churches to fuel the fires or virtue from generation to generation. But of course with the rapid expansion of secularism and moral relativism in America the foundation of that objective reference of Christian virtue and morality has been undermined and we wonder why they are where they are, “for whatsoever a man sows that also shall he reap“. As George Washington stated “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
Sorry mate I have gone on again but I think you get my point. The answer ultimately is a heart transformation of only which the Gospel is capable of giving. The rejection of this leaves only two paths for America as I see it. One, continue with this delusion of a Republic and have laws that secure certain freedoms, such as the right to bear arms, and we will continue to see the death toll rise as those weapons get into the hands of an unvirtuous citizenry. Two, the government acts and passes laws that take away the rights given to the people by the founding fathers and become the inevitable masters of a people who cannot be trusted to be virtuous, and become a totalitarian state all but in name and will lead to the eventual death of the Republic.
If you want to hear a talk he gave at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, here is a link.