Friday, August 29, 2008

Carrying Guns in School

Not students, but teachers:

HARROLD, Tex. — Students in this tiny town of grain silos and ranch-style houses spent much of the first couple of days in school this week trying to guess which of their teachers were carrying pistols under their clothes.

“We made fun of them,” said Eric Howard, a 16-year-old high school junior. “Everybody knows everybody here. We will find out.”

The school board in this impoverished rural hamlet in North Texas has drawn national attention with its decision to let some teachers carry concealed weapons, a track no other school in the country has followed. The idea is to ward off a massacre along the lines of what happened at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“Our people just don’t want their children to be fish in a bowl,” said David Thweatt, the schools superintendent and driving force behind the policy. “Country people are take-care-of-yourself people. They are not under the illusion that the police are there to protect them.”

But a pistol-packing Social Studies teacher will?

In the center of the storm is Mr. Thweatt, a man who describes himself as “a contingency planner,” who believes Americans should be less afraid of protecting themselves and who thinks signs at schools saying “gun-free zone” make them targets for armed attacks. “That’s like saying sic ’em to a dog,” he said.

“I’m not exactly paranoid,” Mr. Thweatt said. “I like to consider myself prepared.”
I think I may have to create a new label simply entitled "Texas" for all these gems coming out of the Lone Star State recently.

You see this kind of reaction whenever a school shooting takes place (be it a decade ago or the Virginia Tech shooting in '07). Gun advocates seem to think that if teachers or principals (or students, in the case of Va. Tech) were packing heat, these school shooters would be "taken out" before exacting any carnage. A bit of old Wild West vengeance, to say the least.

But mere speculation is hardly evidence enough to exact a simplistic and dangerous policy such as this. The entire point of restricting gun access in and around schools is to protect students and teachers. Arming them merely turns the safe haven of school into an extension of the larger and more dangerous world around them.

Not to mention, I hardly think it would produce a "safe learning environment" if students are wondering which teachers are packing and which aren't. It also increases the chance of a disgruntled student using a teacher's gun against them (or vice versa, a teacher gets angry at an unruly student and suddenly...).


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