News & Politics

A California Teacher Almost Shot a Student, Proving We Don't Need Armed Educators

Tuesday's accident demonstrates that giving teachers guns is a terrible idea.

Seaside High School teacher Dennis Alexander
Photo Credit: KSBW / MSN Screenshot

Seaside High School in Monterey County, California, placed teacher Dennis Alexander on administrative leave after he accidentally discharged his gun in his classroom Tuesday.

Though Alexander—a reserve police officer—primarily teaches math, it was during his Administration of Justice class that he pointed his gun at the ceiling to “make sure his gun wasn’t loaded,” according to KSBW 8.

The only reported injury, Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told Monterey County Weekly, was of a 17-year-old student hit in the neck by “debris or fragmentation” that fell from the ceiling. The student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW he had to rush his bloodied son to the hospital after he came home from school with bullet fragments in his neck. “He's shaken up, but he's going to be OK,” Gonzales reported. “I'm just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”

After the incident occurred, at approximately 1:20pm, school remained in session. Not until Tuesday evening did Seaside High School’s administration send a letter to parents, telling them, “Upon learning of the incident, our Human Resources department, school site administration and the Seaside Police Department immediately began investigating the incident, including interviewing students in the class.”

Brian Ferrante, chief of the Sand City Police Department, which also placed Alexander on administrative leave, told KSBW that he had “concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom.” It is illegal, regardless of whether a teacher has a concealed carry permit, to bring a gun into a school in the state of California.

“We will be looking into that,” Ferrante added.

The incident has garnered national attention as the latest counterargument to President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers to prevent school shootings. In a White House “listening session” with gun violence survivors last month following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump suggested loosening concealed carry laws to allow ostensibly adept teachers to bring their guns to school.

In a string of tweets at the time, Trump held up as exemplars the “20% of teachers” who, like Alexander, have “military or special training experience” and “would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.”

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Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer and nonfiction MFA candidate at Columbia University.