March 01, 2018
In the aftermath of last month's deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the national debate about preventing gun violence and advancing legislative reform has resurfaced with an intensity not seen in the United States in several years.
Student protests across the country, urging responsible solutions to improve school security, have generally identified ease of access to deadly weapons as the primary cause of mass shootings that have devastated American communities time and again.
The alternative suggestion to arm and train teachers — an idea critics say fails to address scenarios like the shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando — has taken a particularly contentious tone over the past week.
Supported by President Donald Trump, a proposal from Florida legislators came under fire Wednesday after a social studies teacher in Georgia allegedly barricaded himself inside his classroom, fired his handgun and prompted a schoolwide lockdown.
Opponents of the policy argue forcefully that arming teachers not only runs counter to the Second Amendment's anti-authoritarian moral, but places students at much higher risk of accidents, conflict escalation and racially-motivated violence and intimidation, as has been documented in incidents involving armed school resource officers.
Among those against the proposal is Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end Chris Long, an outspoken athlete who has embraced a number of charitable causes over the course of his career, including educational opportunity in low-income communities and sustainable water projects in East Africa.
Long took to Twitter on Wednesday to share his thoughts about the gun debate and the proposal to arm teachers, responding to several fans who questioned his thinking along the way. His position appears to be that it would be wiser, in the absence of more extensive gun reform, to better arm police than to put guns in the hands of teachers.
67M in FLA to train+arm teachers? Put similar energy+resources into helping them do their actual jobs: educating. Could increase police presence @ schools (serve+PROTECT). What officers? Eliminating the war on drugs=surplus. Existing guns in hands of pros w/o selling more 4 NRA.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Confusing fantasy, but also confusing to me that ppl who love+trust police wouldn’t want em to be the most heavily armed. Or some ppl believe in the freedom to own an AR but not the freedom to smoke a joint. Confusing times. I’m sure I’m a delusional hippy. I own multiple 🔫 BTW.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Side note: I’m aware the AR is similar in some ways to other less controversial guns, but I just see it used for this function so often. You’ll have to tell me why this coincidence occurs. I’m not trying to attack anyone. I think everyone is concerned about this trend. I hope.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Also, firm believer in the 2nd amendment, but context is important. https://t.co/x7Dim92Vjt— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
I do not own an AR. I’m only vaguely familiar with your reference and I’m wondering how it’s relevant here. https://t.co/VmFTsyPK3k— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
To be crystal clear, this is a conversation in response to wanting to arm teachers. Why teachers? Why not police? Seems to me that it’s bc police already have guns. You’d get to sell guns to teachers. More guns in America rather than reform. https://t.co/zzZKeJxrRq— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
This is also not a racial issue.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Actually trying to sequentially argue semantics with people who want to arm teachers, all of whom trust the police, yet feel like it’s a job better suited for teachers. Why is that? https://t.co/r934N0QCzK— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Sorry if I didn’t articulate that well enough. Police in schools is not my first thought as I watch this stuff unfold. It’s reform, but to someone who says arm folks in schools, I’m wondering why it’d be teachers not police. If you say we don’t have enough, I’d say you’re wrong.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
And this is the main point, which is not racial. Anyone disagree with this not being racial? https://t.co/gOp5GecDna— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
That certainly isn’t the intent. The intent is an exercise in trying to understand these folks argument for teachers buying a massive amount of guns and spending millions nationally to train them. It’s an exercise in confirming there is no argument. https://t.co/nMM2pMe3BX— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Every convo has racial implications but the strategy of arming teachers is not racial at its core. It’s a deflection mechanism from gun control, aiming to sell more guns to a country that has more per capita than any developed nation. all I got tonight, Twitter is exhausting.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
Even if 1/10th were armed. Thank you. It's hard for twitter to stay on task. https://t.co/AqtUacw6MV— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 1, 2018
As Long joked in one of his tweets, he may just be "a delusional hippie." At least he's self-aware. Those who question his use of celebrity and a broad reach on Twitter to exert influence should keep in mind that he clearly feels a sense of responsibility as a public figure.
As we've learned here in Philly, Long is not a "shut up and dribble" kind of professional athlete. There are plenty of athletes who will stay away from politics. Those who do invite intelligent debate should be given credit for stimulating discussions that motivate others to research and learn about their world.