Irresponsible Gun Owners of America: Special Edition

Normally when I write one of these entries, I highlight multiples cases of reckless, haphazard, and outright dangerous examples of people wielding firearms. From playing with guns while intoxicated to people being irresponsible in their handling of guns in a public setting to instances of recklessness such as leaving a loaded gun in reach of a child, there are innumerable cases that demonstrate the lack of responsibility on the part of many people in this country. People who probably think of themselves as “responsible gun owners”.

Untrained or poorly trained civilians are not the only ones who demonstrate insufficient care in the handling of firearms though.  There are times when law enforcement officials themselves–people who go through ongoing, rigorous training in the handling of firearms–demonstrate their lack of care. One particularly egregious example of this happened yesterday:  a reserve police officer who is also a teacher at Seaside High School in California, recklessly handled a gun, resulting in a student being injured…

During a presentation on gun safety!

image of school teacher/reserve police officer Dennis Alexander being interviewed in a school classroom.
Reserve police officer, school teacher, and irresponsible gun owner Dennis Alexander speaking to the media.

A teacher who also serves as a reserve police officer accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside High School classroom Tuesday, police said, and three students were injured.

Dennis Alexander was teaching a course about gun safety for his Administration of Justice class when his gun went off at 1:20 p.m.

The very first thing that sprung to mind when I read this article were the calls to arm teachers in response to the Parkland shooting massacre last month. That wretched louse of a President expressed his support for arming teachers at the Conservative Political Asshole Action Conference, as did some Republicans in the Florida legislature in the days following the shooting. So did Nevada Senator Bob Beers (who-laughably-played the “they’ll turn to bombs if they don’t have guns” argument in opposition to eliminating firearms). It’s not just politicians who think this is a good idea. A recent Rasmussen online/telephone survey found 43% of adults with school-aged kids support having trained teachers with guns in schools (they’ve got some wonky math going on at the link, so I’m not sure how must stock to place in their numbers). And though many students oppose arming teachers (particularly those at Parkland High), there are some who support the idea.

Sorrynotsorry, but I find the idea that arming teachers will somehow prevent school shootings to be mockably laughable. Like ‘point and laugh’ type mocking. First of all, unless you’re in the armed forces or you’re involved in law enforcement, you’re not going to receive sufficient firearm training to take down shooters.. Hell, the officers in the NYPD, the largest police force in the country, have low hit rates! Nor will it be ongoing (as it is with those groups).  Supporters of arming teachers give little to no consideration that teachers might freeze up (it’s not ‘fight or flight’, it’s ‘flight, fight, freeze‘) when confronting a shooter. The National Association of School Resources Officers recently put out a statement opposing the arming of school teachers. They offered multiple reasons why it is not a good idea:

Law enforcement officers who respond to an incident at a school could mistake for an assailant a teacher or any other armed person who is not in a uniform.

Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant.

Firearm skills degrade quickly, which is why most law enforcement agencies require their officers to practice on a shooting range frequently (as often as once per month), under simulated, high-stress conditions. Anyone without such frequent, ongoing practice will likely have difficulty using a firearm safely and effectively.

In addition to maintaining marksmanship, ongoing firearms practice helps law enforcement officers overcome the physiological response to stress than can reduce the fine motor skills required to accurately fire a weapon.

Anyone who possesses a firearm on campus must be able to keep it both ready for use and absolutely secure. Law enforcement officers receive training that enables them to overcome attempts to access their weapons.

Discharging a firearm in a crowded school is an extremely risky action, with consequences that can include the wounding and/or death of innocent victims. Law enforcement officers receive training and practice in evaluating quickly the risks of firing. They hold their fire when the risks to others are too high.

Speaking of risks, living with a gun in your home increases your risk of death. If you want to reduce the risk of firearm related injury or death to the occupants of a home, don’t have firearms at home.  Similarly, if you want to protect children from firearm related injuries and death, you keep guns away from them:

“the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents.”

For some reason, I doubt Dennis Alexander has learned that lesson.  He ought to, given that his reckless handling of his firearm led to a student being injured by bullet fragments.

Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it fired. Pieces of the ceiling fell to the ground.

A news release from the Seaside Police Department said no one suffered “serious injuries.” One 17-year-old boy suffered moderate injuries when fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck, the student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW.

The teacher had just told the class that he wanted to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, when the gun fired, according to Gonzales.

“It’s the craziest thing. It could have been very bad,” Gonzales said

Yes, Mr. Gonzales, it could have been very bad. A great way for your son to not get injured like that would be to keep guns out of schools, not call for more of them. As for Alexander, he ought to never be allowed to own a gun again. One of the first rules of owning a gun is to always ensure your gun is unloaded unless you are prepared to use it. Given that his gun was not supposed to be used, he ought to have ensured it was empty before he began teaching his class. Thanks to his recklessness, a student was injured. To make matters worse, the student was never checked out so went home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck:

The 17-year-old boy’s parents were shocked when he returned home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck. The student’s parents rushed him to a hospital for X-rays.

“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be OK,” Gonzales told KSBW. “I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”

That’s an appalling level of apathy from school officials and from Alexander. But then, this is the fool who brought a loaded weapon to school. Looking at the name of the victims father, Fermin Gonzales, I can’t help but wonder if race was factor in school officials not checking out the student or informing his family.

Alexander was placed on administrative leave from his teaching position at Seaside High School, and he was also placed on administrative leave at the Sand City Police Department.

Sand City Police Chief Brian Ferrante told KSBW, “I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom. We will be looking into that.”

Ferrante said Alexander has been a reserve Sand City police officer for the past 11 years, and described his track record as “positive and professional.” The 2013 Reserve Officer of the Year is also a Seaside City Council member and Red Cross volunteer.

Blah blah blah.

The hell does any of that have to do with the fact that this reckless ass mishandled his weapon, leading to the injury of a student? He ought to be fired from both jobs and prevented from ever owning or possessing a gun again. But as the case so often is when cops kill Black people, I suspect he’ll face a slap on the wrist at best and a final determination of “but he didn’t mean to do it” will be issued by the Sand City Police Chief.

Because heaven forbid police officers actually be held accountable for their actions when they injure or kill others.

Irresponsible Gun Owners of America: Special Edition

One thought on “Irresponsible Gun Owners of America: Special Edition

  1. 1

    Barring a mechanical failure, the weapon did not just go off. Reserve Officer Alexander pulled the fucking trigger. While making sure it was unloaded.

    The firearm was only ever in his possession, he should have bloody well know it was loaded, beyond the safety rule of always assuming that it is unless you have personally checked.

    You check by visually inspecting the chamber, NOT by pulling the fucking trigger.

    On top of this, there is no excuse for using a live weapon and ammunition in a safety demonstration in a classroom, not a range.

    Both snap caps, and replica firearms that will not chamber live ammo are things that exist.

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