Two Terrible Ideas Whose Time Has Come… Eliminating Gun Free Schools and Arming Teachers
Earlier this week Think Progress blogger Kira Lerner published a post describing an idea that both President Trump and the GOP led Congress support: the elimination of gun-free zones around schools and the notion of allowing teachers to carry weapons— presumably to “make schools more safe”. Here’s the concept:
On January 3, the first day of Congress’ current session, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the “Safe Students Act,” an NRA-backed bill to repeal the 1990 ban on guns in schools.
“Gun-free school zones are ineffective,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement. “They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments. Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”
Massie, the chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, was joined by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) as cosponsors on the Safe Students Act.
The same day that Massie announced his proposal, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced a separate bill that would establish what the NRA likes to call “national reciprocity,” allowing concealed-pistol permits to function across state lines. That legislation also includes a provision that would give state and local officials the authority to set rules for guns in schools.
As of the beginning of February, Hudson’s bill already has 148 cosponsors, including two Democrats. Both bills have been referred to a House Judiciary subcommittee.
The legislators are clearly more beholden to the gun lobby than they are to facts. As Lerner reports:
Gun safety groups point to research that showsgunmen rarely target gun-free school zones. A recent study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Stanford University, and the University of Massachusetts Boston found that 84 percent of the 111 high-fatality rampage shootings from 1966 to 2015 occurred in places where guns are allowed. Just 18 occurred in gun-free zones.
One of the sad realities of the recent weeks is that Orwellian language like “The Safe Schools Act” is acceptable to legislators but facts are not. New the end of her post Lerner draws on the experience of a Sandy Hook CT teacher, who thinks it its preposterous to arm teachers:
The main argument Republicans use for allowing guns in schools can best be summarized by LaPierre’s remarks in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said one week after a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the Connecticut elementary school.
But Abbey Clements, who taught second grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School at the time of the attack, said she is confident that a gun would not have made her students more safe.
“I think there’s this understanding that if you just had guns in these stressful situations, that you would A) Know where the gun is and where the gunman is, and B) How many there are,” she told ThinkProgress. “There’s no way on earth.”
When the gunman entered her school on the morning of December 14, 2012, Clements pulled all of her 19 students into the coat area of her classroom and huddled with them, singing Christmas songs to drown out the noise until police arrived. Clements said she heard hundreds of gunshots blaring from the hallway and had no idea that there was only one perpetrator. “I just assumed it was a gang,” she said.
“There have been people who over the years have asked me, ‘[What if] you had just had a gun, if teachers could have guns?’ Story after story you hear of mass shootings, even law enforcement don’t know where and how many gunmen there are.”
“You just don’t have time to think,” she said.
Despite the flurry of horrific Executive Orders and stealth legislation being proposed by the GOP, we DO have time to think about this issue… and we should do so before action. If we DO think, we’ll keep the Gun Free Zone laws in place.