Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - DEN­NIS WY­ATT Edi­tor

When bring­ing a gun to school meant you’d get a warn­ing

Close to 20 years ago when the Man­teca Uni­fied School Dis­trict board was de­bat­ing whether to al­low school re­source of­fi­cers on cam­pus, trustee Eve­lyn Moore was hes­i­tant. It wasn’t that she was against the idea. It’s just that the re­tired teacher wasn’t keen about the idea of al­low­ing guns on a school cam­pus even if they are car­ried by a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer.

Now we are hav­ing a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about whether we should al­low teach­ers to be armed with guns.

The con­cepts of hav­ing armed po­lice of­fi­cers on cam­pus or arm­ing teach­ers with guns prob­a­bly would have seemed ab­surd to Bob Elkus who was prin­ci­pal at Lin­coln High in Lin­coln Placer County when I was a fresh­man and sopho­more in 1971 and 1972.

It’s not that he didn’t have to deal with guns on cam­pus. Twice my fresh­man year se­nior class stu­dents got called into his of­fice for bring­ing a gun on cam­pus. In each case they were shot­guns they had left on the gun racks of their pick­ups af­ter get­ting up be­fore the crack of dawn to go dove or duck hunt­ing be­fore head­ing to school.

The po­lice were not called. In each case the stu­dent was given a warn­ing not to do it again.

Many would ar­gue — or rem­i­nis­cent — that they were sim­pler times 47 years ago or even two decades ago when the Man­teca Uni­fied board was weighing whether to de­ploy school re­source of­fi­cers.

I dis­agree. They were just dif­fer­ent times. The big thing back in 1972 was be­ing able to have a wrist­watch. For those who learned how to use an Ap­ple about the same time they were able to bit into an ap­ple, wrist­watches were prim­i­tive ver­sions of smart watches that only told time and you had to wind un­less your par­ents in­dulged you and bought one that op­er­ated on bat­ter­ies. And, yes, they had mov­ing hands al­though the fancy ones you could keep track of the date with a sep­a­rate dial.

The year 1972 saw Hamil­ton Watch Com­pany roll out the world’s first dig­i­tal watch dubbed the Pul­sar Time Com­puter. It had a $2,100 price tag — more than the cost of a new 1972 Ford Pinto and twice the price of an iPhone X. All it did was tell time, al­beit dig­i­tally, but that was it.

Wrist­watches were the bane of Kathy Lund, the Lin­coln High li­brar­ian.

By the time 1972 rolled around and more of Lin­coln’s blue col­lar fam­i­lies could af­ford to be ex­trav­a­gant and buy their kids watches when they were still in school in­stead of as a gift for grad­u­at­ing high school, Mrs. Lund was be­side her­self.

The rea­son: Watch bands were scratch­ing ta­bles in the li­brary.

Mrs. Lund im­posed a rule re­quir­ing ev­ery stu­dent en­ter­ing the li­brary to take off their watch and put it in their pocket.

She was such a stick­ler for treat­ing a li­brary as a holy tem­ple of knowl­edge where one went to ab­sorb and not talk that if she was forced to be armed with a gun she’d de­mand to be is­sued a si­lencer.

As for sag­ging pants on guys that started spread­ing to high schools in the early 1990s prompt­ing more “open minded” adults to dis­miss crit­i­cism of tak­ing the mys­tery out of whether a teen boy wore briefs or box­ers as just be­ing a pass­ing trend, they’re still pass­ing.

Mon­day as I was wait­ing at the light be­hind were the cross­walk on Pow­ers at Yosemite, two boys walk­ing —ac­tu­ally more like wad­dling — on their way home from Man­teca High with their pants south of their rump held in place by a cinched belt and a un­nat­u­ral stride. Then I no­ticed — and re­al­ized — that teen girls seem to have a much bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the con­cept of what pants are sup­posed to cover up. Not only do you not see them ex­pos­ing their un­der­pants but if you ask most will tell you they think droop­ing pants look stupid on guys. Of course, most teen boys will tell you girls think the look is cool.

Sag­ging pants weren’t a prob­lem at Lin­coln High. Boys’ hair touch­ing the col­lar was. If you got sent the of­fice for be­ing shaggy, a coun­selor would whip out a ruler and if stand­ing straight with head level your hair wasn’t an inch off the col­lar you got sent home. This is at the same time if you brought a loaded gun to school you got pulled out of class, got a warn­ing, and were sent back to class and got the gun back at the end of the school day.

You might think that was a messed up time but I’d hon­estly pre­fer hav­ing the gun de­bate be­ing cen­tered on safe use and the proper place to carry them and have to suf­fer what I thought was the in­dig­na­tion of an over­bear­ing dress code put in place to main­tain a sense of or­der than wor­ry­ing about whether stu­dents will be sit­ting ducks in a school turned into a shoot­ing gallery.

School trus­tees in Lin­coln did worry about gun safety. In the mid-1950s when a new high school gym was built two-inch steel plates were placed in the wall sep­a­rat­ing the north­ern bas­ket from the boys’ locker room. That was to al­low the po­ten­tial use of the gym as an in­door ri­fle range given teach­ing kids how to shoot and take gun safety cour­ses was all the rage at the time.

Now the big push is mak­ing schools de­fen­si­ble against a gun at­tack.

It begs the ques­tion: Are we los­ing it as a so­ci­ety?

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