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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Smith: Why I don’t want my teachers to have guns

Protestors+raise+their+signs+and+march+through+downtown+Iowa+City+at+the+March+for+Our+Lives+event+on+Saturday%2C+March+24%2C+2018.
Sid Peterson
Protestors raise their signs and march through downtown Iowa City at the March for Our Lives event on Saturday, March 24, 2018.

My freshman and sophomore year of high school, I was that weird kid in class. I wore all black, walked around with headphones at all times, carried a huge backpack full of books everywhere, and didn’t have many friends.

Most teachers didn’t like me. I was a troublemaker, cynical, sarcastic, young, and stupid. And it also didn’t help that I was late every day to every class. This often caused teachers to not understand me.

Because of this I found myself in the principal’s office quite a bit. The principal knew my mom pretty well, and unlike most, he did understand me. So these detentions were more like firm scoldings.

My sophomore year, I was dealing with depression and was lashing out. Lashing out against my family, my friends, my school; and the best place to do that was in writer’s club.

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One day I wrote a poem.

The poem was an angry poem, and to some, it might have seemed violent. The day I wrote poem, the writer’s club went to lunch.

We talked about how we all hated school, as most high-schoolers do, and we prayed for something to prevent us from going to school the next day. As a weird, angsty teenager, my sense of humor was dark.

“I’m just gonna blow up the school tomorrow,” I said.

My equally angsty teenager friend replied with, “But I’ll be in school tomorrow.”

“Dang, what hall will you be in?” I asked.

“East hall,” she said.

“OK then,” I said. “I’ll just blow up West hall then.”

We laughed among ourselves and dropped the subject. But one girl, a girl I didn’t really know outside of writer’s club did not drop the subject. “I have a class in West hall,” she said.

Looking back, I probably could’ve picked up on the signs that she was nervous. But I did not. Instead, in my dark humor, I made a really stupid joke.

RELATED: Iowa City principals speak about arming teachers

“Well, you better look out,” I said with a wink.

The next day as I walked into school, late as usual, with my huge backpack, dressed in black, the head of security tried to stop me. He normally bugged me about being late, and I couldn’t hear him because my headphones were in, so I just kept walking.

But unlike all the other times I ignored him, this time he stepped in front of me and gestured for me to take my headphones out. “You can’t come in here,” he said.

He took me to the principal’s office, but unlike the other times, it was not just a firm scolding. I was told someone made a report that I had made a school-shooting threat. I was suspended for a week, and I had to go to mandatory counseling.

I have come to terms with the the fact that I made a dumb joke, and the preventive measures taken to ensure safety were definitely necessary. But with all the talk about arming teachers, I can’t help but think, what if? All the staff was told to watch out for me and that I might have brought a weapon onto campus.

What if I had been stopped by a teacher instead of security at the front door? What if they asked me to stop but didn’t realize I couldn’t hear them because I had headphones in? What if they thought my oversized backpack had a weapon inside it? What if they genuinely feared for their life? What if they were armed?

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About the Contributor
Sid Peterson, Photojournalist
Sid Peterson is a photographer at The Daily Iowan. She is a sophomore at the UI studying journalism and international studies.