School Shootings: It's Time to Arm Our Teachers (or, more properly, allow teachers to carry) There have been three school shootings in the past week. One in Bailey, Colorado, one in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, and one in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Amish country).(1) And, in what seems to have become the normal response, there is a growing sentiment that there should be tougher gun control laws. Suggestions for such infringements on the Second Amendment are already creeping into the Pennsylvania legislature. Specifically, "[o]ne proposal expected to spark heated debate would limit handgun purchases to one a month for each individual."(2) In light of the national rash of shootings, it is only a matter of time before this sort of debate wells up again in the United States Congress.
What I want to know is why calls for gun control are the almost automatic response to any horrible crime that involves guns. Gun control laws are not going to make our schools safer. Guns are not allowed at schools. In fact, guns are not allowed to such a degree that the very idea of guns is almost prohibited.
For example, in Lee County, Florida, a student received a three-day suspension for carrying "a cap pistol onto his bus."(3) And this was in spite of the fact that the bus driver "could tell the cap gun wasn't real."(4) In a similar incident, in Kansas City, Missouri, a child was suspended for possessing "2-inch plastic squirt gun," which the people in charge of the school district over there decided, "is a simulated weapon and a class IV, which is the most serious school offense. . . an automatic 10-day suspension."(5)
But it is not just harmless toy weapons that fall under the zero-tolerance shroud, it is also imagined ones; expressions of the concept of a weapon. In New Jersey, a public school banned the popular (and traditional) game of 'cops and robbers' "out of a fear that even imaginary weapons pose a threat."(6) The school is so afraid of imaginary weapons that they threaten students with expulsion if they are caught playing the game.(7) The New Jersey school's zero-tolerance policy obviously extends not only to weapons, but to "anything that can be perceived as a weapon" (for example, a finger used to simulate a gun in a playground game).(7)
As you can see, guns are banned in schools and even the idea of guns is persecuted as if it were some sort of religious heresy and the school board were a theocracy. Yet school shootings happen. Obviously, school shootings are not deterred by rules. And therein lies the crux of the problem.
The kind of person who would aggressively harm another is not the kind of person who follows rules. Law-abiding people, by definition, do follow rules. When we make rule banning guns in all forms, even in the abstract, in school zones, all of the law-abiding people will attempt to conform to the rule. And since the gun bans apply to everyone except law enforcement officers, that means none of the teachers or administrative staff who have conceal/carry permits may bring their guns onto school property. The result of a zero-tolerance anti-gun rule is an environment in which a predatory rule-breaker with intent to harm will be the only person with a gun, should that predator decide to go on a shooting rampage. This is exactly the conclusion regarding gun-free school zones that was reached by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:
All they have done [by mandating gun-free schools] is create target-rich, no-risk environments for monsters who have no fear of encountering an armed teacher or administrator, or a legally-armed private citizen who might happen to be in the building.(9)
I think arming teachers and administrators is a good solution to the problem. Why do these types of shootings happen in schools instead of in residential neighborhoods? A plausible reason is because schools don't shoot back. In a neighborhood, there is no way to know who might be armed since there are no rules prohibiting the presence of guns (unless the neighborhood is in a high gun-control state like New York or California). Criminals don't like it when their intended victims can shoot back, so it stands to reason that they would prefer to attack a school campus where they know guns are prohibited. If we create an environment where the possibility exists for someone in the school to shoot back at a school-shooter, potential school-shooters might consider a school to be too risky a target.
Create fear in potential predators by allowing, and even encouraging citizens to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. That seems like a sound plan. So why, every time there is s school shooting, do we have gun control advocates like the Brady Campaign(10), coming out of the woodwork demanding more laws restricting gun ownership? The only way they can believe that gun control laws will make us safer is if they believe that gun control laws deter criminals from acquiring guns. And that is simply not the case.
Gun control laws might make it harder for criminals to find guns, but they do not keep criminals from getting them. Cocaine and heroin are completely illegal -- no one in the country can legally sell the stuff in ordinary commerce; and yet people get it. But still, groups like the Brady Campaign continue to push for laws to make it illegal for everyone but government law enforcement officers to have guns. Off hand, the only states I can think of where only the government and criminals have guns are police states. And I think that is what we will get if gun control laws become too pervasive.
In my studies of history, I have noticed that once a government knows that its People can't shoot back at it, it tends to stop listening to them. Don't let that happen to us, and especially don't let the gun control fanatics use the deaths of children to so that to us. The interests of dead children will not be served by taking away their parents' ability to defend themselves.
Perhaps the strangest thing of all of this is that the right of the People to keep and bear arms is codified in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Laws restricting it should be unconstitutional, yet we have them.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government"
(1) Susan Jones. "Gun Control Group Urges Americans to 'Ask More Questions,'" Cybercast News Service, 2006 October 03, paras. 2-4, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/viewstory.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200610/CUL20061003a.html.
(2) Associated Press. "P.A. Gun Control Debate Heat Up After Shooting," CBS 3, Philadelphia, para. 5, http://cbs3.com/topstories/local_story_276120934.html.
(3) Dave Breitenstein. "2 bring BB, cap guns on school bus" The News Press, 2006 September 30, para. 4, http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060930/NEWS0104/609300498/1075
(4) Ibid. para. 8.
(5) "First-Grader Suspended Over Plastic Squirt Gun," KansasCityChannel.com News, KMBC-TV, 2006 September 19, paras. 3 & 5, http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/9887289/detail.html.
(6) Matt Pyeatt. "Cops and Robbers? Not On This Playground" Cybercast News Service, 2002 March 20, para. 1, http://www.cnsnews.com/Culture/Archive/200203/CUL20020320b.html.
(8) Ibid. para. 5.
(9) Jones. para. 10.
(10) Ibid. para. 1.
(11)Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334
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