Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guns in School

An overlay map showing the extent of gun-free school zones (see 18 USC 922(q)) shows how the law places anyone carrying or transporting a gun at high risk of continually committing a federal felony. Yet, this prohibition does nothing to stop crime of any kind, especially in school zones. What the law does do is provide a safe work environment for criminals bent on harming school teachers and their students. This law has left millions of school employees and children defenseless.

Fortunately, Utah law allows persons who are trained in the safe handling of firearms and in the laws related to the use of deadly force and who pass a background check to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm. In Utah, this permit allows the carry of a concealed firearm within these gun-free school zones -- including the classroom. To me, common sense says the best and most cost-effective control on violent crime, whether at home, the workplace, school, or church, is the presence of law-abiding, trained citizens as provided by the Utah concealed firearm permit process. The cops invariably arrive just in time to do nothing more that conduct an investigation and hold a press conference.

Banning guns on the campuses of public schools and colleges will not keep guns off the campus. Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law -- even gun laws! If a disgruntled student or teacher chooses to shoot up the campus he or she does not care whether guns (or any other weapon) are banned or whether he or she has a concealed firearms permit.

Crimes and upset students are a behavior problem -- not a gun problem. Statistically, more crimes are averted or stopped by the mere presence of a gun than are committed by a gun -- even on college campuses. Statistically, per capita violent crime is highest in those cities and states that have banned guns. Guns are generally banned in all school zones nationwide, yet school shootings still happen. Why? Bad guys don't obey laws -- even gun laws! (Even in Great Britain and Australia, where handguns are completely banned, the criminals still manage to get them.) Imagine the difference if the bad guys knew that there was even a 1% chance of encountering a teacher or other adult trained in the use of a gun and carried it. Utah law allows for that added level of security.

Recent high profile murders in schools in Canada and the US prove that “gun-free school” laws are a delusional scheme to make hoplophobes feel good but do not deter criminal attackers. Instead they seem to lure psychopathic killers seeking to harm others, while minimizing the risk that they may encounter an armed victim. The Columbine shootings happened despite numerous state and federal laws being violated by the killers. In response, Colorado added more gun ban laws. The federal government then enacted “gun-free school” laws. Experience shows that they did no good. We should no longer tolerate any attempts to disarm law abiding citizens with silly schemes that criminals will never obey. Tragically, there will be school shootings again, but they will happen with, or without any gun laws anyone can think of. Disarming victims is not the solution!

I discourage engaging into a hostile environment or situation. However, the ability of a school employee to carry a firearm may mitigate such situations and will, at the very least, afford individual protection for the carriers themselves. If those carriers have control or responsibility over a classroom full of children, that same protection will tend to encompass those children as well. The weapon must be under the carrier's control at all times. It must be maintained quietly and discreetly.

I recommend that if an employee (armed or not) is in her classroom or other securable location and becomes aware of a violent situation that she immediately close and lock her classroom door after gathering all adjacent students into the classroom. This will be her and the students' shelter. If that employee has access to a firearm she should only engage the intruder if her classroom shelter is breeched.

In the wake of the nation's recent rash of school weapon incidents, I offer my Utah concealed firearm instruction at a discount to all school employees in Utah's Iron county as well as to college students over age 21 in Iron county.

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