Law Students You Will Meet: The Gunner (for Rising 1Ls)
Posted on August 2nd, 2012
Stupid questions exist. Exhibit 1: the Gunner.
He read all the casebooks before class started and is up on every Supreme Court case being heard this term. I wouldn’t be surprised if members of the Court didn’t have stalking orders out against the guy.
Every class has at least one Gunner. My class called ours “the Riddler” behind his back because he could not let a class period go by without raising his damned hand and asking inane hypothetical questions.
You know you’ve got a guy like this on your hand when half the class audibly groans the second his hand shoots into the air.
To make up an example, if you’re in a Property class discussing future interests and the professor used the example, “Blackacre to A for life, then to B for life, then to C if C stops smoking before 2020.” The question the professor would be getting to is what happens to the property if C doesn’t stop smoking, or if RAP is involved, or something along those lines.
The Gunner would raise his hand and ask, “But what if A and B are also smokers? Did the testator smoke? What C predeceased B because he had lung cancer, so technically he did quit smoking before 2020?”
If you know anything about future interests, you can see that these are really stupid questions. There is no point in asking them. If you don’t know anything about future interests, they still look like stupid questions.
The guy just has to hear his own voice.
In my class with the Riddler, the professor would toss his stupid questions right back at him, the same way I do with my five-year-old. The only “right” answer to a Gunner question is, “Well, what do you think?” If he can’t or won’t answer, then shrug and say, “Get back to me when you figure it out.”
Law professors: your other students will love you if you do this!
Tips on handling the Gunner:
• Don’t study anywhere near this guy. Find a carrel or table a long, long way from him. That nasally voice and propensity for asking stupid questions will suck up your study time. Do not join a study group with him.
• Don’t argue with him. He knows everything already.
• Instant message clients are a great way to blow off steam while he’s wasting your class time.
• Do not think about how much money his derailing of classroom discussion is costing you. At some point you, or one of your friends, will do a break down of how much each minute of class costs. I know you will. Try to forget the sum.
• Alternatively, tally all that up and present him with a bill from the entire class after each class. He wastes ten minutes x 50 people x whatever the per minute cost is = a HUGE sum. If it doesn’t shut him up, take it to the dean and demand your money back. It won’t work, but it would be entertaining. What’s the dean going to do, kick you all out? Damn. I wish I’d thought of that ten years ago.