I Want a Gun

By Laurie Gurney Newburger

I’ve been a teacher for a long time — an adjunct professor at private, state, and community colleges. I have the work experience, the education, and the dedication, but I have no gun. So why do I want a gun?

I want a gun to make my job easier. It takes far too much time and effort to create a safe, nurturing classroom in which my students can write and speak freely. Obstreperous student? Take aim and send her out the door. Baseball-capped snoozer in the back row? A chest prod with my AK-47 should do the trick. Class discussion getting too passionate? Just shoot off a round.

I want a gun to add to my arsenal of teaching strategies, so I don’t have to work so hard to reach the most reluctant students. With a gun strapped to my chest, I’ll have their full attention. 

I want a gun so that my students will no longer besiege me with their many personal problems. The suicidal and depressed, the cutters and addicts will find their own way to campus services. And I won’t be an ad hoc counselor for family and work-related problems with a gun to wave around. I will teach literature and composition with military precision and focus. No one will invade my emotional fortifications.

I want a gun to protect myself in the classroom. Who knows how many covert weapons lurk in those innocent-looking backpacks, alongside the usual drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and condoms. Obviously, the teacher should wield the most powerful weapon in the room.

I want a gun so that I can clear my classroom of DACA students (as well as the “lazy” ones who didn’t sign up for DACA) and escort them to ICE vans to be thrown back across the border along with their rapist and gang member compatriots. 

I want a gun to protect myself on campus as well. That one security guard at the gate checking parking permits just doesn’t cut it. And most campuses don’t even have that. If we can’t have barbed wire, electrical fences, security cameras, armed guards, and canine patrols to protect our liberal ideals and institutions of higher learning, then give me a gun. Enough of these demilitarized zones of education.

I want a gun so I can confront sexual assault and sexual harassment on the college campus with actions instead of words.

I want a gun so that I will be paid a living wage. American colleges and universities have enlisted an army of poorly paid part-time teachers to avoid paying real salaries and benefits. Adjunct professors with M.A.s and Ph.D.s are expected to reinforce the value of higher education to their students, while patching together a meager livelihood themselves. My Ph.D. has little value, but my gun permit and training certificate would. The funding not available for traditional educators will miraculously appear once I strap on my gun and become a soldier of education.

I want a gun so that instead of being dismissed as a bleeding-heart liberal, or someone whose work has little real-life value, I’ll finally be able to join a truly American institution of enlightened individuals: the N.R.A.

I want a gun so that I can help with the current overstock of weapons in the gun industry, keep manufacturers from bankruptcy, and hold on to those good American jobs. With the coming of Trump, stockpilers are no longer afraid of losing their personal armories and are buying less, so more unarmed Americans need to step up to defend our students and support our workers. 

I want a gun so the next time that deer hunter strays onto campus, instead of retreating into a campus lockdown, I can just shoot him from the window and return to the class discussion.

I want a gun so I can be a true role model for my students. For years I’ve strived to motivate them, while working within a severely skewed educational system that favors the wealthy and too often makes empty promises to the rest. Think analytically, write persuasively, get that diploma — I besiege them with advice. Arm yourselves with education is a message heard clearly when the teacher is actually armed.

I want a gun because a well-educated cadre of trained teachers fully armed in the battle to expand students’ minds and protect their bodies begins with adjunct professors. We are the boots on the ground. Once the recalcitrant public becomes accustomed to adjunct soldiers on college campuses around the country, it will only be a matter of time for that success to trickle down to high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. When my future granddaughter joins her preschool reading circle, her teacher will be well prepared: a picture book in her hands, and a gun on her hip. 

So please, just get me a gun. It’s a matter of national security.


Laurie Gurney Newburger lives in Amagansett.