Personally, I don’t like the idea of teachers needing to be armed. I agree with you that teachers should be allowed to devote all of their energies to teaching.
But I know for a fact that none of the gun control methods that have been proposed would have prevented the killings at Sandy Hook. Even Mark Glaze, former executive director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety admitted that.
In fairness, the NRA’s “good guys with guns” doesn’t work, either. Yes, they can end a school shooting, but they are almost invariably too late to prevent it.
One thing in particular that you said caught my attention: “Guns in schools sends the message to students that adults can’t solve the problem of gun violence in America.”
That’s a good message to send. Adults can’t solve the problem of gun violence in America, in part because we focus on the guns instead of the violence.
Firearms account for only 5.8% of violence-related deaths and injuries. The dreaded “assault weapons” account for only a small percentage of homicides. About as many murderers use their bare hands as use all types of rifles combined and far more use knives and other weapons.
The one thing that we can do as adults is to stop scaring our children. Schools are still among the very safest places they can be. In the 2017–2018 school year, 27 high school students at five different high schools were killed by gunfire during the regular school day. Yes, that is 27 too many but we have become an hysterical society where “free-range kids” is a thing and we crack down on kids biting their Pop-Tarts into a gun shape. That’s manic bordering on psychotic. I can’t help but think that’s doing more damage to our children than guns in schools.
I also believe that promoting the current raft of warmed-over snake oil will compound the damage. We promote this legislation based on promises it will never fulfill. We’re not only lying to our children, we’re lying to ourselves. There’s nothing we haven’t tried before and nothing we haven’t seen fail.
People talk about a “gun culture.” Let me tell you about a real gun culture.
In most states when I was growing up, it was perfectly legal to walk into a gun store, select a firearm, pay for it and leave. No paperwork in most states, no waiting periods, no permits. In most states, it was perfectly legal to carry a handgun as long as it wasn’t concealed (still is). Military surplus semi-automatic rifles were sold at five-and-dime stores like F.W. Woolworth’s for as little as $25.00. Gun ownership was common. Many children received their first rifle at about 12 years of age. Many people hunted. Many fathers had guns that they brought back from World War II and Korea. It was easy to buy a gun through the mail and ads were found in the backs of many popular magazines.
Public school shootings? Yes, we had some. In fact from the time I was born until the time I graduated high school, there were 23 incidents at K-12 public schools, not including accidental discharges. A total of 20 people died and 11 others were wounded. This includes one incident in which a school principal killed two of his teachers and then killed himself, resulting the highest death toll in that decade. Did the nation go bananas? No, it didn’t. Not even in New York City, which had the largest number of school shooting incidents of any city.
So America was awash with guns, including lots and lots of real military firearms. We didn’t have the Gun Control Act of 1968; we were still running off of the Federal Firearms Act of 1938. The original Colt AR-15 had gone on sale in 1964 but didn’t sell all that well; it wasn’t really legal for hunting in most states because it was considered underpowered. We had had semi-automatic rifles since 1903 and magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles since 1911. High-capacity magazines? Sure. We even had them in pistols as early as 1935. Those cheap army-surplus M1 carbines could take up to a 30-round magazine. Some of them even had flash hiders, folding stocks, pistol grips and bayonet lugs.
But we didn’t have public-school shootings like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland or Santa Fe. The only school-related mass shootings were at the University of Texas in 1966 and at Rose-Mar College of Beauty in 1968. I will admit that Charles Whitman was scary; he was an expert marksman and one of his kills was at a distance of 500 yards. I guess that today we’d have to blame his Remington bolt-action rifle but back then we just blamed him.
So forget the ballistic backpacks (they don’t stop a rifle bullet anyway). Forget the obsession. Tell kids that the risk of being caught in a school shooting is far less than the risks they face when they ride their bikes, swim in a private pool or ride in a motor vehicle. In fact, they’re safer in school than just about anywhere else. Assure them that parents and schools are doing everything they can to ensure they have a safe environment for learning.
Do talk to your children about guns. Avoidance is fine: even the NRA says its best to save that discussion until a child is older (about eight). Under that age, it’s always Stop! Don’t Touch! Run Away! Tell an Adult! Promote programs like Project ChildSafe, even though it’s operated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade and lobbying group. More attention to proper securing of firearms will lead to fewer accidental deaths and fewer cases of young people having access to guns. The truth is that the NRA and NSSF do more to promote gun safety than Everytown for Gun Safety, the Giffords Law Center, the Brady Campaign and the rest combined. You just have to get past Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent.
There is nothing in the rules that says you have to like guns. Unless you live in Kennesaw, Georgia, there are no laws that say you have to have one. But you owe it to yourself and your children to learn something about them. There are more than 80 million gun owners in America and the chances are your kids will meet one someday. They aren’t evil people bent on inflicting horrible things on innocents. Even the AR-15 owners and the ones that shoot Bambi in the fall.
You had a horrible experience. You’re frustrated that nobody is making it better; that there isn’t some law that can make it go away and never happen again. You need to understand that there is no law that will make that happen.
We’ve had laws against murder since humanity developed laws. We have laws against bringing guns onto school campuses. We have laws against discharging firearms inside of towns and cities. Why on earth would you any of the cockamamie “solutions” on the table would deter a killer? Heck, the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 doesn’t do anything about the millions of military-style rifles that are already out there. And the people that wrote it know less about guns than my cat. Your own Senator Blumenthal introduced a bill calling for expanded background checks just days after a man who had passed at least a dozen of them shot more than 600 people in Las Vegas. Perhaps it’s just me but I find that somewhat less than impressive.
Remember one thing: it takes a real lowlife to use the deaths of children to promote an agenda that wouldn’t have saved them. We can do better.