Students gather around their teacher, pillows and cushions supporting their tender spots, as Miss Aimee introduces the book she’ll be reading.
“Children,” she says, “quiet down now. Our story this afternoon is titled Good Guns, Bad Guns. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but remember to raise your hands first.”
No hands are raised, so she opens the book and begins.
“Bobby’s daddy owns a gun. He keeps it in a secret place. Bobby’s not supposed to touch it, even if he knows where his daddy hides it.”
The picture she shows the class depicts a bedroom, a bed, and a table beside the bed with a pistol inside an open drawer.
“Bobby’s daddy owns a good gun. We know it’s a good gun because it waits quietly like a guardian angel beside the place where Bobby’s mommy and daddy sleep.”
She turns the page and shows the class a picture of a gleaming pistol
“Bobby’s teacher also owns a gun. Sometimes she keeps it in her desk drawer. Her students know they’re not supposed to touch it.”
The page reveals a classroom picture, with students at their desks. A teacher stands at the blackboard spelling out the word G – U – N in precise capital letters. An American flag hangs beside the classroom door. All the drawers in the teacher’s desk are closed.
One hand shoots into the air. “Yes, Lee, do you have a question?”
“Why can’t we see the teacher’s gun?”
“That’s a good question, and it brings up a new word. This teacher carries a concealed weapon. Concealed means the gun is hidden, or difficult to see.”
“I think I see it behind the flag,” a girl in a red dress volunteers, pointing toward the book.
“No, Bristol, the gun not behind the flag.”
“I see it, I see it!” shouts a boy to her left. “It’s the shadow next to the teacher’s jacket.”
“You may be right, Donald, but wherever the gun is hiding, it’s also a good gun because the teacher takes care of it. Any more questions?”
No more hands are raised, so the teacher reads from the next page.
“Once upon a time schools were not allowed to keep guns in closets or cupboards, but Bobby’s dad’s gun was not enough to keep Bobby and his classmates safe.”
She rotates the book so her students can view the picture of a school cafeteria. Excited children stand in line to collect their lunches. The cook smiles as she serves each meal, a gun holstered at her waist. The principal makes sure nobody cuts in line. He too wears a gun. Parked near a table, the janitor’s cart waits while he mops up a spill. A rifle stands on the cart right beside a broom.
“How many guns can you count in this picture?”
Bristol counts one, Donald sees five, and Lee isn’t sure he sees any at all. Nobody notices the rifle mimicking the broom.
“Does anyone remember the word when a gun stays hidden?”
“Sealed?” Violet timidly suggests.
“That’s very close, Violet. The word is actually concealed, which means the gun is difficult to see.”
“Miss Aimee,” Donald blurts out, “how many guns are in the picture?”
“The school is much larger, Donald, than this one picture. It might be impossible to count them all, especially if some are hidden.”
“Are they all good guns?” Bristol asks.
“That’s a good question. Let’s turn the page and see if any bad guns appear.”
The teacher turns the page and starts to read.
“Slinky carries a backpack to school. He keeps it in his locker.”
Violet giggles, “Slinky’s a funny name,” but the teacher ignores her and continues reading.
“Slinky took his daddy’s gun while he wasn’t looking. He stuffed it into his backpack.”
She shows the class a picture of an open locker with the barrel of a bright red gun poking menacingly out of a backpack. She stands and walks among the seated children so they are able to carefully study the picture.
“Is it a good gun or a bad gun?” the teacher asks.
“It’s gotta be a good one.”
“What makes you think that, Lee?”
Donald excitedly waves his hand. “I know, I know,” he shouts.
“Let’s be patient, Donald, and listen first to what Lee thinks. Lee?”
“I think it’s a good gun because it’s in the school.”
“Okay, Donald, what do you think?”
“It’s a sealed gun and we can’t never tell if it’s good or bad if we can’t see it.”
“Do you mean a concealed gun, Donald?”
“I don’t know, Miss Aimee. This gun stuff is hard.”
Before the teacher can answer, the bell for recess rings.
“Okay, children, put your cushions away, and let’s not worry about how many guns we can or can’t see until we finish the story tomorrow.”
The students hurry out of the classroom. Miss Aimee closes the book and sits down behind her desk. She reviews her lesson plan. Surely it’s obvious which gun is bad. Something must be very wrong with the narrative.
David Feela is a retired teacher living in Cortez, Colo. He recently placed second in the “personal/humor columns” category in the Society of Professional Journalists’ four-state Top of the Rockies competition for work done in 2017. See his works at http://feelasophy.weebly.com/