SC Legislature’s Reaction to School Shooting? Concealed Carry for School Employees
This fall a 14 year-old homeschooled student in SC shot his father with a handgun and then drove two miles to a nearby elementary school in Townville where he shot several several students on the playground, one of whom, Jacob Hall, subsequently died. An unarmed 30-year old volunteer firefighter interceded and turned the shooter over to police who arrested him. The shooter never entered the school.
In response to this incident, the Blaze reports that the SC legislature is introducing several bills that bear the victim’s name, many of which would allow school districts to permit their teachers to carry concealed weapons on school property.The Blaze article highlighted one of the bills introduced by Rep. Joshua Putman that would:
…create a special public school concealed weapons permit. Educators and employees would have to attend a live shooter training from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Putnam’s legislation allows for school district officials to restrict what ammunition can be loaded in the firearms teachers have on school grounds. It would also allow for the firearms to be secured and kept in approved holsters.
The school board chair in the county district where the Townville shooting took place was not happy about this legislation, preferring law that would mandate and fund officers in every school in the state:
Tom Dobbins, chairman of Anderson School District 4 school board, said Monday that he hoped legislators would find the money to hire more law enforcement officials instead of arm teachers as a “knee-jerk reaction.”
He argued that arming teachers is just a “cheap way out” that could “end up with more fatalities,” according to the (local newspaper) Independent Mail.
Neither of these proposals would prevent an incident like the one described in the accounts of the shooting I read on line. An armed teacher might have shot an injured the 14-year old brandishing a handgun, but would not have been on the playground to prevent him from shooting students. An armed guard at the front door would not have prevented the shooting either. Chain-link fences with razor wire would not have prevented the incident either. And as I read through the articles reporting on the September 2016 incident I could find no explanation of why the young man with a gun was being home schooled, why he shot his father, how he got the handgun, and why he chose to shoot children on a playground at this rural elementary school. Maybe an examination of the shooter’s motives would yield a better way to prevent future shootings. Maybe homeschoolers need to be monitored more closely to ensure their mental health is sound. Maybe safety locks need to be put on handguns in homes so that a 14 year old cannot use them even if they gain access to them. Maybe these solutions would be expensive, but they might actually prevent a future incident and save the lives of more children than giving more guns to more adults in school.