Should My Teachers Have Carried Guns? Part Deux

1983-1986: North Arvada Junior High School

My memories of junior high (I guess they’re “middle” schools again) haze out a little bit due to the greatly increased number of teachers. I’m a little shocked at how little I remember of seventh grade, which makes me wonder if I was locked up in an insane asylum under someone else’s name for that year. Here’s the standouts-for better or for worse:

Band: Mr. Lebsack

Mr. Lebsack was my band teacher for all three years and my wrestling coach during my sole flirtation with organized sports. I believe “Leb” went hunting on the weekends, so at least he knew which was the business end of a rifle.

Carry a gun? Probably not, although the fact that he at least handled a weapon at some point could be a game-changer.

Eighth-grade history: Mr. Hays

Mr. Hays was 4-F during Vietnam (I believe he was too tall). Famous on-campus for spending a summer drumming for Three Dog Night while their original drummer recuperated from a broken arm.

Carry a gun? No, but definitely groovy.

Ninth-grade science: Mr. Briggs

Mr. Briggs earns the distinction of being probably the only teacher I had in my entire K-12 schooling who I would actually trust with a gun around students. He was a Vietnam vet who also had been a cop doing search-and-rescue missions. A burly character who drove a motorcycle to school, he seemed fairly even-tempered. I remember him standing and shaking his head the morning of the 1986 bombing raid in Libya, announcing “If we’d done it right, those cities wouldn’t be standing now.”

Carry a gun? As likely a candidate as any, but I don’t see him volunteering for (or wanting) the job.


1986-1989: Arvada High School

Sophomore history: Mr. Poisson

Despite the French name, Mr. Poisson was of Irish descent and alluded to a cousin who ran guns for the IRA. An avuncular, personable man.

Carry a gun? No, but he could probably get one for you.

Sophomore history: Mr. Patera

A gnarled fist of a man, Mr. Patera screamed everything and referred to himself in third person. He adored my family, and actually once gave me a pass on an unexcused absence (normally the kiss of death in his class). Had a “Semper Fi” bumper-sticker on a cabinet door in his room, but if he was ever in the Marines, he kept it to himself. I think he may have been a Communist (made a quiet reference once to delivering a “socialist” newspaper as a side job). Expressed remorse at running over a squirrel on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago.

Carry a gun? Maybe.

German I, II and III: Frau Helga Duncan

Formal and ladylike to a fault, Frau Duncan wouldn’t be a natural candidate for “school deputy.” Plus, her roots in WWII-era Berlin might make homeland-obsessed Tea Partiers a tad uncomfortable.

Carry a gun? No.

Junior and Senior (AP) English: Mr. Tyrrell

I loved “Big Ed’s” classes, but Mr. Tyrrell was no cop. I think his overall philosophies were conservative: I’d probably describe him as an Eisenhower Republican. He’d spent time as the golf coach, so probably had good timing and eye-hand coordination. However, Mr. Tyrrell was a big fan of existentialist literature (Camus, Faulkner)-I don’t know that I’d deputize someone who believes that life is essentially meaningless.

Carry a gun? No.

Band teacher: Mr. Heyman


Sociology teacher: Ms. Lundy

Theatrical, gabby, cartoonish and liberal, I enjoyed her classes, but nobody (I’m sure including Ms. Lundy herself) realistically saw her as a rent-a-cop.

Carry a gun? No, but the fact that she operated on a level uncomfortably close to that of the students might have made her a valuable intelligence source.

Psychology teacher: Mr. Minden

Brilliant teacher, but once told us the perfect way to “take over” the Denver metro area would be to hijack a tank, take it up into the foothills and camouflage it, firing random shots to keep people at bay. Taught me a new word: somatotyping, the arcane practice of prediction someone’s intelligence and/or profession by how their body was shaped. He then informed me I had the body type of an “axe murderer” (I used to work out a lot more).

Carry a gun? No, but the Hollywood possibilities are endless.


1989-1994: University of Denver

None of my college professors had any business being around guns; however, Mr. Arnesen, my double-bass instructor, did go bowhunting from time to time.

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