The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 2, 2013

MICHELE BENDER | Shooting the breeze on arming schoolteachers

— Guns puzzle me. Recently editorial writer Thomas Sowell pointed out that folks emotionally spout misinformation and preconceptions with little knowledge of statistics or hard facts.

That’s me, but I try not to yap without solid information.

Now, along comes newly-elected state Rep Greg Lucas, a former teacher and survivor of a school-related shooting 10 years ago. He supports proactive changes to improve school security, and believes arming teachers would help.


I’m so glad I’m retired.

First, I couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a shovel. Teen pals egged me into tossing darts at a local carnival. I missed the huge, neon-colored balloons but skewered the dart lady’s hand. I broke a neighbor’s window shooting a BB gun.

Ineptitude aside, I totally believe I couldn’t be trusted with a weapon. I can be hot-headed.

A teacher buddy of mine asked, “You know me. Am I someone you’d trust with a firearm in the classroom?”

I vividly recall three hooligans who pushed me to my limit. If I’d been armed, they would now be a peculiar smell wafting from my attic.

One lunch period, as I started down a flight of stairs, I heard a familiar voice coming from the steps below.

“She didn’t miss me. Bender’s so dumb she probably didn’t take roll.”

I did miss him when I took roll, and I was sizzling with rage.

We reached the landing almost simultaneously, but I was two steps higher.

Bracing myself on the banister, I drop-kicked the carton of chocolate milk my cherub held in his hand. I turned him into a Fudgsicle.

In the mid ’70s, I taught a last period class with 17 boys and one girl. Betty persevered, but suffered numerous indignities.

One afternoon, I whirled around and nabbed the pervert behind her groping beneath Betty’s skirt.

Eddie was brawny and athletic, but my adrenaline kicked in. I dumped Romeo, desk and all, on the floor.

“She broke my arm!” squealed my quarry.

 “Crawl out!” I snarled.

We’d broken the top off the desk, and a chair leg bent like a pretzel.

“Now, report to the nurse!” Eddie limped, sniveling, out the door.

“Will she set his arm?” asked a classmate.

“His arm’s fine. But maybe she’ll perform a brain transplant if she can find a donor.”

I met my boldest potential “Victim” while subbing. I had to show a science movie. The students filed in quietly, I thought. Then I saw why. A kid, Neanderthal-size, stood in the doorway wearing a Klan hood. It was white and pointed. His vacant eyes stared out of its two holes.

I wanted to kick him, hit him, break a pointer over his head.

He expected a confrontation, a disturbance, an ill wind.

I smiled. “Great hat, kid. But you best sit in the back so the others can see over you.”

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
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