Arm Bears

I struggled with a title for this article. The Kids are Alright. Or perhaps Singularly Stupid.

In the end I decided to tell you about arming bears. As I start my text I’m sitting waiting for a plane. The reason for my journey is simple—for the second time in six months I’m heading to a funeral.

The man who died—although now it’s called passing, and one of these days it’ll be called a metabolic standstill issue—had a sense of humor drier than a James Bond Martini. So, I thought I’d pay tribute to his usual description of the second amendment of the US constitution as ‘the right of the people to arm bears.’

The loss of a very close friend is a serious blow, but imagine the loss of a teenage child, or a child of any age, for that matter. Some of my readers will unfortunately not need to imagine, because through illness, accident, or malicious action they will be in that situation. My heart grieves for anyone who has lost a daughter or son.

It is my firm belief that only the children can change the world, adults become too settled in their ways, too stubborn and conservative in their outlook. I am therefore delighted to hear such eloquent, intelligent, and driven high school students strike out at the heart of the tragedy of school shootings in the United States.

Guns.

I’ve heard all the disingenuous NRA-style arguments about guns—people kill people, bullets kill people, and the bullshit ‘solutions’, including the very latest flavor in complete idiocy: arming teachers. It’s only a matter of time before that results in a classroom killing. It can happen in several ways: a teacher may become emotionally unstable and start shooting; someone might mistake an ordinary situation for an extraordinary one; they may miss their intended target and hit an innocent child instead; their firearm may be misplaced or stolen, with the exact opposite effect of deterrence.

Young men and women do not become schoolteachers because of an excess of testosterone—those guys join the special forces. Teachers are motivated by a love of learning, patience with kids, and fulfillment through intellectual achievement. They try to ensure slower kids are not left behind, they exercise compassion and diplomacy, and they combat the culture of elitism and bullying.

Teachers are not sharpshooters, or even shooters—they’re just sharp. If for no other reason, what chance would a teacher with a handgun stand against a bump-stocked AR15 enthusiastically sprayed by a lunatic?

So, if we exclude a gun ban, or at the very least a ban on automatic weapons, which is the only solution that works—consider how many school shootings have taken place in Canada, in Western Europe? One in Dunblane, Scotland, twenty-two years ago, and a couple of others in Germany and Finland—what are we do?

My late friend would undoubtedly suggest we arm bears. Allow me to pay him tribute, as I return from laying him to rest, by expanding on that concept.

The bear’s dilemma: to arm or not to arm?

Bears are extremely intelligent animals, but also incredibly frightening. Not only are they very large but they are also immensely strong, and excellent runners and climbers. If you need to work outdoors on Spitsbergen, an Arctic island above Norway, you will be assigned a sharpshooter with a rifle, since a polar bear will shortly wish to place you on his or her menu—a practice which has impinged on the animal’s reputation.

Weaponizing the bear would thus be a splendid public relations opportunity, aimed at recuperating an image that has been somewhat tarnished by folk lore. For the bear enjoys a splendid reputation with children—only grown-ups are averse to its charms.

From the ever-popular teddy bear, a firm favorite of all Western children, and often their only cuddly solace when the bedroom light is turned off and the door closed for the night, to the quintessentially British Paddington bear, rescued from atop a suitcase at the eponymous London railway station, kids love bears. It is only when children reach late teenage that they disengage from their furry friends—and since hardly any of us have ever seen a bear in the wild, let alone one strike in anger, it will take little to restore bearlove.

From the cast of Goldilocks to Yogi and Boo-Boo—fun, smart, and mischievous bears—youngsters carry a mental image of a friendly and fair creature—an animal of great discernment and awesome power.

Bears are one of the very few mammals capable of walking upright, and as such are eminently suited to being armed—it surely can’t be long before we see them toting automatic weapons; they are such superbly strong creatures that they could in fact be issued with RPGs as their standard sidearm.

A bear armed with an RPG would undoubtedly discourage NRA members from hunting it. At present, when faced with a gun, bears, like teachers, are left to face their attacker with bare arms, since they lack the wherewithal for a suitable riposte. Not so your armed bear, who might well deliver an RPG shell or five to the offending hunter, thus stopping him in his tracks—and very possibly obliterating both shooter and tracks altogether.

This, of course, would stimulate migration of bears into the conterminous United States, furthering a conservative cause dear to the hearts of republicans­—acknowledged fans of the great outdoors—by contrast to immigration of other two-legged creatures, which is nowadays barely possible.

Furthermore, the bear boasts a splendid all-weather coat, and will therefore represent major uniform savings—the new school stalwart may be deployed bare-naked. Allied to this, the grizzly, brown, and polar varieties can be employed in different seasons, and be perfectly camouflaged in the spring, fall, or winter. One can thus rely on the element of surprise as a perfect deterrent, as a bear in perfect harmony with the outside environment falls upon a marauding shooter.

A small musical interlude to stimulate your thoughts.

There is of course the question of food. It may present slight difficulties, given the bear’s penchant for human flesh. The secret here, to again quote my dear departed friend, is to keep the bear happy, but not too happy. A diet of honey, and other delicacies, is very popular with bears, as I learnt decades ago at the University of Hanna-Barbera (previously Koala Community College), and it is a matter of record that the polar bear is inordinately fond of salmon.

Leading by example, the bear’s fare would encourage high school kids to move toward an improved diet, rich in natural organic foods such as honey, and seafood filled with omega-three fatty acids. A simultaneous advantage of thus weaning students off fast food and sodas will be a slimmer, fitter student body, making it both less comestible in the bear’s eyes, and better equipped to run from the bear, should the need arise.

Given the bear’s legendary ferocity, it appears highly unlikely that any would-be murderer would even contemplate a school attack when faced with armed (or even unarmed) bears.

However, in the event that such a foolish action should occur, I suspect that, in apprehending murderous AR-fifteeners, the school bear would likely select its traditional form of attack, foregoing its weapon and baring its arms to the evil-doer, in order to greet him with a fraternal, if terminal, bear hug. Unlike a soft-hearted, wimpy teacher, who might attempt to only wing the teen terrorist, the bear would proceed to devour the pimply pubescent psychopath—it will save the judicial and penal systems of the United States millions of dollars, which should of course be directed to arming more bears.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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