NEWTOWN, Conn. – Teachers union leaders have been using phrases like “astounding and disturbing” to describe suggestions that some educators be allowed to carry weapons to protect schools against random attacks.
One congressman even said his state’s governor was being “outrageous and insensitive” by endorsing the idea of armed educators.
But a growing number of public officials – most of them Republicans – believe the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was further proof that our nation’s students are sitting ducks, particularly in buildings surrounding by signs saying “weapon free school zone.”
They believe school boards might be wise to allow a few volunteer staff members from every school to carry concealed weapons during academic hours.
They point to the tragic events at Sandy Hook, where the unarmed building principal and an unarmed guidance counselor tried to lunge at the gunman as he made his way through the school.
Both women were killed during their brave attempts to stop the killer. If either of them had been trained to use firearms and had been carrying a weapon, things might have ended differently.
As the superintendent of one Texas school district put it, “when you make schools gun-free zones, it’s like inviting people to come in and take advantage.”
The public seems to agree that having a few teachers with guns is not a bad idea.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent said having at least one staff member at every school carry a gun would be “very effective” or “effective.” A total of 63 percent said banning the sale of assault or semi-automatic guns would be “very effective or effective.”
Eighty-seven percent of respondents favored having more police presence in schools. Eighty-four percent would increase government spending on mental health screening and treatment. Seventy-eight percent would favor decreasing the depiction of gun violence in television, movies and video games.
Fifty-seven percent believe it would help if the news media refused to identify mass killers.
If you can’t keep the bad guys out …
The Connecticut incident has fueled a lot of debate about the potential effectiveness of a federal ban on assault weapons.
Some say a similar ban, signed by President Clinton in the mid-90s and allowed to die 10 years later, had no significant impact on violent crime. Some say the weapons would still be readily available through the black market.
And even if high-powered weapons disappeared, there would still be more than enough handguns, bombs, hunting rifles, knives and other weapons to kill plenty of innocent people.
And there certainly would be no shortage of troubled people who think about, and sometimes carry out, mass murders.
“At some point people have to recognize that despite the obvious desire to make places safe by banning guns, it unintentionally has the opposite effect,” said John R. Lott, an author and leading experts on various types of weapons, in an interview with Newsmax.
“When you ban guns, rather than making it safer for the victims, you unintentionally make it safer for the criminals, because they have less to worry about. If you had a violent criminal stalking you or your family, and was really seriously threatening you, would you feel safer putting a sign up in front of your home stating, ‘This home is a gun-free zone?’”
When asked if armed teachers could have stopped or minimized the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary, Lott said the outcome could have only been better, certainly not worse.
“We see the way these killers search out places where people can’t defend themselves,” Lott said. “So I think there’s at least a very good chance that if it is known teachers and others there would have permit-concealed handguns, it would have dissuaded the attack from occurring to begin with. Secondly, even if he did attack, it would be by far the safest course of action.
“The amount of time that elapses between when the attack starts and when someone can get to the scene with a gun is very important in determining what the carnage is going to be. The faster you can get somebody there, the more you can limit it. If you could get the police there in eight minutes, which would be record time, that would be eons for people who are there helplessly having to face the killer by themselves with no protection.”
Jess Gilman, a former police officer who served as the school resource officer for the Costa Mesa, California Police Department, said under current conditions there are few ways to keep armed killers out of schools, and few options to protect staff and students once they’re inside.
Gilman said he would like to see schools consider the best ways to provide an immediate response to armed intruders, whether than means hiring armed security officers or training teachers to carry and use weapons if necessary.
“If we can’t keep the bad guys out, we have to have a system in place that can engage them as soon as possible to stop the threat,” Gilman told DailyPilot.com.
Weapons in the right hands would make schools safer
Over the past few weeks, a growing number of elected officials and others in the political world have announced their support for having some sort of armed defense in public schools.
The list includes Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who said “If a person (like the Sandy Hook principal) was armed and trained, could they have stopped the carnage in the classroom? Perhaps.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said teachers with concealed weapon permits should be allowed “access to their weapons in their school,” according to National Public Radio.
Former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett said an armed school staff member “would have to be someone who’s trained, responsible. But, my God, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to.”
State Rep. Mike Kelley and State Rep. Eric Burlison, both Republicans, introduced legislation last week in the Missouri General Assembly that would allow teachers to carry concealed weapons at school.
“You can’t create a safe environment by banning guns from an area,” Burlison told the Springfield News-Leader. “All you’re doing is creating an area that is the focal point for criminals with guns to concentrate.”
State Rep. Dennis Baxley of Florida said, “in our zealousness to protect people from harm we’ve created all these gun-free zones and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target. A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”
Teachers union leaders around the nation completely disagree.
“Some are actually proposing bringing more guns in, turning our educators into objects of fear and increasing the danger in our schools. Guns have no place in our schools, period,” said a joint statement from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association.
It’s time for these well-meaning souls to join the rest of us in the world of harsh reality.
They seem to be betting on the ability of government to ban enough weapons to make all of society, including schools, safe from harm. That will never happen in America. There will always be people with guns, and there will always be disturbed souls who are willing to kill just about anyone.
Given those realities, we are doing our children a great disservice by forcing them to attend school on a daily basis in unprotected buildings. The sooner our society accepts that hard fact, the safer the kids will be.