The Debate over Guns in Schools

Here is the debate in the Deseret News: Guns Don't Belong in School verus Armed first responders are needed in schools.

Here is a summary of the debate from the anti piece:
In Utah, some schoolteachers who have concealed weapons permits carry handguns to school. Some teachers say they carry concealed weapons because they want to be able to defend themselves and others should an intruder threaten school staff or students. A proposal before the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council would permit teachers with the appropriate gun training to become "special function officers," which would be akin to a school district security officer, a hospital security officer or a port of entry agent. The POST council has taken no action on the proposal.
The Utah Chiefs of Police Association opposes the proposal

I also received this note original ascribed to Charles Hardy: "Just to clarify, as best I understand it, a couple of rural districts would like to allow teachers or other school employees to take a 'POST lite' course so they could pull double duty as school resource officers rather than just carrying as private citizens as permitted by CCW permits. No effect on CCW, though those with CCW permits might be logical first choices to enlist to the program. I just love the logic of the antis: a college-educated teacher is too stupid or untrustworthy for this, but a guy who never went to college is smart and trustworthy enough? I really do view it as more insulting to teachers than to gun owners."

When people debate about the risks of having guns on school property why don't they try to answer the following?
1) Can they name one problem that has arisen since guns were again allowed in Utah schools? What about Oregon? What about all the states that allowed concealed handguns in school parking lots (thus within the 1,000 foot rule)?
2) Can they name one problem that arose in all the right-to-carry states that allowed guns in schools nationwide prior to the end of 1995? This is before there was any 1,000 foot rule. Please list just one instance where there was a problem?

Thanks to N. W. Clayton for sending me these links.



Anonymous Mike said...

I am a high school English teacher with nearly 20 years prior police service. I have been quietly supporting the idea of armed school staff for man years now. I have just a few points on this issue.

School resource officers are nice, but they are few and far between, and not if, but when, an armed attack occurs, even if an officer is assigned to the affected school, how many children will we be willing to sacrifice before that officer can find and neutralize the shooter ( assuming of course that the officer is actually present in the building at the time, or has not been the first target of the shooter)?

Not only do the police have no duty to protect individuals, they simply can't do it (and they do love to catch bad guys in the act). In an armed attack, if we assume the most rapid possible response by the police--let's say 7 minutes to arrive in the school parking lot and another 3-5 minutes to find and engage the shooter (schools are like mazes to those who don't work in them), how many innocent lives will be lost?

School staff would carry weapons only for that worst case scenario where being on the spot and familiar with the terrain can prevent or minimize innocent deaths. There is simply no other means remotely as effective.

When I encounter knee jerk opposition, I posit this scenario, which usually leaves those opposing slack jawed and silent, or red faced and sputtering: A crazed gunman has just entered your child's school. By chance, their classroom is second in line to the shooter's intended path. After the first few rounds are fired, confusion will reign. It will take at least three minutes for school staff to understand what is happening and to call for help. Another minute will pass before the first radio call goes out to officers. The nearest officer is four minutes away, the next, six minutes. When the first officer arrives, it takes another 3 minutes for school personnel to direct him to the general area of the school from where the shooting is coming and another 2 minutes for him to follow the sound of gunfire to the shooter who is still firing at children and teachers. From the first gunshots until the first officer has the first opportunity to engage the shooter, 13 minutes have elapsed. The shooter finished shooting children in the first three classrooms he entered two minutes ago. Are you satisfied with this scenario, or would you prefer that trained, armed, trustworthy adults be present and able to immediately engage and stop the shooter, potentially before the first shot has been fired?

You'll notice that the time frames I've proposed are very rapid. Most likely, in most communities, a shooter would have considerably more time before any kind of reponse could be mounted.

I fear that we'll need three or more Beslan-like school attacks before this simple safety measure becomes politically possible.

12/20/2006 9:57 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, Mike. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write and for your powerful arguments. As you say, the potential benefits are obvious. Admittedly these events are rare, but so are school fires and no one would argue against fire protection. The costs of setting up the type of program that you discuss are also very low.

12/21/2006 7:06 AM  
Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

Anytime anyone (a so-called expert) injects "training" for teachers into this debate it will serve to stifle the intended outcome.

Most teachers are already receiving education related training on a regular basis - they don't need more training, especially gun training. The probablility of a school attack is too low for school teachers to be required to receive firearm training (as if they were police.) But if any volunteer for it that is acceptable.

What is needed is simply an armed society because an armed society becomes a cost effective deterrent to persons contemplating crime. If school teachers, and all other citizens were simply allowed their constitutional right to carry firearms then the probability of a school shooting becomes almost non-existent. Teachers should be allowed to carry their guns to school and all other citizens should be allowed the same right.

We don't need anymore (politically correct) "training" - we need our rights respected.

12/27/2006 4:20 PM  

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