The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 2, 2013

MICHELE BENDER | Shooting the breeze on arming schoolteachers

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— 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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