Armed ‘Teacher of the Year’ Opens Fire in School
As Trump talks about arming educators, students in two Georgia high schools keep telling him from experience what a bad idea that would be.
President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers seemed nutty enough even before a second former high school teacher of the year was arrested for firing a gun inside his school.
Both teachers were in Georgia, which generally prohibits people from carrying firearms on school grounds, The first was a star math instructor at Lithia Springs High School, 25 miles from Atlanta. He fired one bullet from a handgun in what may have been a suicide attempt back in August.
The second was on Wednesday, when a star social studies teacher at Dalton High School, 90 miles from Atlanta. He was arrested for barricading himself in his classroom and firing a shot with a handgun for reasons yet to be determined.
In between the two teacher-involved incidents, the mass shooting at a Florida high school prompted President Trump to propose arming educators:
“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”
A considerable number of the Dalton students who were thrown into an understandable panic by the gunshot on Wednesday were quick to offer their opinion of the notion that Trump shares with the NRA. One who goes by the Twitter handle Chondi tweeted:
“@NRA my favorite teacher at Dalton high school just blockaded his door and proceeded to shoot. We had to run out the back of the school in the rain. Students were being trampled and screaming. I dare you to tell me arming teachers will make us safe.”
Again, high school teens were making considerably more sense than our president in the wake of a shooting. A classmate, Twitter handle hillary, tweeted:
“I’m a Dalton High School student. Please don’t tell me a damn thing about arming teachers. Please don’t tell me that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.”
Another Dalton student, Twitter handle Winter, tweeted about the trolls who almost immediately sought to make the shooting appear to be part of a plot to undermine Trump and the NRA and their pals:
“What happened at Dalton High School today was very REAL. My classmates were shoved into dark classrooms not knowing if they’re were going to make it out alive and were literally posting their goodbyes on social media. Don’t you DARE make this into a conspiracy theory.”
The suspect in Wednesday’s incident was identified as 53-year-old year-old Randal Davidson, the Dalton High teacher of the year in 2015. The father of five had become a teacher after working as the news and sports guy at a local radio station. He kept a hand in radio and his play-by-play announcing is well known to anybody who listens to Dalton football on Friday nights.
Davidson is the author of the two-volume opus "Catamounts! The Glorious History of Dalton Football.” He suggested during one interview about the first volume that he is something of an obsessive.
"That random typo will haunt you for the rest of your life," he told a local reporter. "It's something that will drive you crazy because you put 'an' instead of 'and.' So, I keep doing it and doing it and re-doing it. So, what happens is your brain starts doing autocorrect, but you don't do it on the page."
But by all accounts, Davidson has been a dedicated and popular teacher. He does not seem to have had a criminal record that would have kept him from legally acquiring the handgun he allegedly brought into the school in a computer case on Wednesday morning.
Davidson was in his classroom during a planning period when several students sought to come in. He barred them from entering and they went to the principal.
When the principal tried to open the door with a key, Davidson forced it shut. He then allegedly fired his revolver, putting a bullet through an exterior window, apparently not aiming at anybody.
The shot triggered a schoolwide panic and hundreds of students stampeded from the building. They were no doubt filled with fearful thoughts of the mass murder at the Florida high school on Valentine’s Day. Their own school had gotten a scare the following week, when a threatening note was found on a classroom floor, briefly resulting in an increased police presence.
When the shot was fired on Wednesday, the cop regularly assigned to the high school happened to be at the junior high school to meet with the follow officer assigned there. Both responded, along with numerous other cops.
“There is a barricaded subject in a classroom," the Dalton Police Department tweeted. “It is believed to be a teacher.”
After a little over half an hour, the police persuaded Davidson to surrender.
“The teacher is in custody,” the Dalton Police tweeted. “No children hurt. No children in danger.”
A follow up police tweet noted:
“Randal Davidson has been charged with aggravated assault, carrying weapon on school grounds, terroristic threats, reckless conduct, possession of gun during commission of a crime, and disrupting a public school.”
Back on August 17, there had been another teacher-related shooting, this involving 43-year-old Jonathan Freeman, the Lithia Springs High School teacher of the year in 2015. He was known to make trigonometry actually enjoyable.
When a gunshot shattered the hush before the students arrived, staff members saw Freeman stagger from an office adjacent to his classroom. He had apparently shot himself with a handgun he had recently purchased legally.
The officer assigned to the school was on the scene in two minutes. Four more officers were there two minutes after that. Freeman was taken to the hospital and he survived his wound.
Then came Wednesday’s shooting. A math instructor might well note the numbers: Two teachers of the year in seven months have discharged a firearm in a Georgia high school.
Up in Washington, our president was surprising everybody by suddenly saying he was in favor of several gun control measures the NRA opposes. He spoke of requiring background checks at gun shows. And raising the minimum age for purchasing a rifle from 18 to 21. And worrying about due process after the police take guns away from those who should not have them. And maybe even banning assault weapons.
But he was still saying that we can make kids safe by arming the teachers.
“So are we still going to give teachers guns? I'm on the bus evacuating Dalton high school,” tweeted the student with the handle Lilly Rio.