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The Battle Over Guns

Two recent disheartening articles in the NYTimes demonstrate just how tough it is going to be to get any meaningful legislation passed relative to gun control… despite the fact that fewer than 45% of the households in this country own guns of any sort.

On Saturday the Times ran an article reported on the South Dakota’s legislators’ response to gun violence in schools: they passed a law allowing all teachers to carry weapons and allowing districts to

…choose to allow a school employee, a hired security officer or a volunteer to serve as a “sentinel” who can carry a firearm in the school. The school district must receive the permission of its local law enforcement agency before carrying out the program. The law requires the sentinels to undergo training similar to what law enforcement officers receive.

While every parent, teacher, administrator, and School Board organization in the State opposed the bill, it passed handily.

Joe Nocera’s column today, Politics By Intimidation, describes the perilous course State politicians take when they introduce legislation limiting the use of firearms. He cited the experience of Oregon legislator Ginny Burdick’s experience in introducing several gun control bills including one that (gasp!) “…would make it illegal for people with concealed carry licenses to take their guns into an Oregon school.” The response?

Many gun extremists… fought back. In mid-January, two men began walking around a Portland neighborhood with assault weapons strapped to their backs. Even as schools in the area were locking down, the men insisted that they were “educating the public” about their Second Amendment rights. A month later, at a pro-gun rally at the State Capitol, a number of gun owners openly wielded their weapons — even bringing them into the building.

I am OK with people owning guns for hunting and, if they believe it is necessary, for “self-protection”. But I don’t like the notion of my grandson attending a school where teachers are allowed to carry concealed guns, where he walks past an armed sentinel to get to his classroom, where lock-downs are as common as fire drills, and where surveillance cameras are strategically placed in the hallways. How are we going to teach our children about liberty and freedom when they are being educated in an atmosphere of totalitarianism?

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