Carrying Guns in School
Recent tragic events in American schools, where the children and teachers were shot for unknown reasons are forcing the authorities to take active measures to prevent such crimes in the future. Some require a ban on weapons, others want the opposite - to arm guards and school teachers and organize courses for teachers on the use of weapons. U.S. teachers and kindergarten teachers have taken into account the sad experience of the events in the town of Newtown, where a 20-year-old American shot 26 people (Candiotti, Botelho & Watkins, 2013). Hundreds of those are signing up for a gun course. Teachers, shocked by the tragic events, want to be able to protect their students in the event of Newtown script even at the cost of their own career and therefore should have an opportunity to carry a weapon in the class or to be protected by armed guards.
Undoubtedly, this question, in general, does not have a clear answer. There is nothing absolutely right and unacceptable.
Should Teachers Carry a Weapon or Not?
Any weapon should be treated as a weapon, not a shovel or a poker, even if it is a well-made toy. Even if a parent buys a Chinese toy pistol for a child, he/she should explain to the kid that this toy ‘shoots’, and the ball can get into the eyes of others. Therefore, bringing up the right attitude to arms in a child is of high necessity that one will not be tempted to start a ‘conversation with a weapon’ with pampering. The main thing is not to overreact in education - there are parents, especially the hysterical moms, who at the sight of a gun in the hands of children fall into a state of exophthalmos trying to take it away. One can never do this.
Especially to a boy, especially with regard to children's arms ... one just has to teach children at once to refer to it more seriously than to a doll or other toys. Otherwise, the results may be sad. The first thing is the correct perception of a weapon from the very start. The weapon is an instrument of protection only. Again, one can injure or kill using a knife or a shovel.
Second, the teachers, carrying out their direct professional duties, are also responsible for children during training and, in principle, at all times while a child is in school or its area. In light of really terrible events, the authorities should provide strong support to teachers and provide them with the ability to perform the above duties professionally. Without a doubt, every teacher must decide whether to bear arms or not, but courses on the use of weapons should be a prerequisite for competent and not indifferent teachers.
For example, Tennessee Senator, Frank Niceley promised to submit a bill to teachers to become those who may carry weapons. The absence of such bill Niceley calls irresponsible – “Teachers are already protecting a child’s mind – so why not their body as well? (Roberts, 2013). His colleague from South Carolina, Philip Lowe, was faster. He has already filed a bill for consideration (Beam, 2012).
Lowe explained that children and teachers are quite vulnerable to hackers who deliberately choose places where no one carries weapons. Lawmakers in Connecticut are also preparing to take the law under which teachers will be able to carry a gun to school with a permit (Preston, 2013). In Utah, supporters of arms offer their own free classes to educate teachers to handle a weapon. In Ohio, a test program of combat training for teachers is already running. Moreover, the governor of Arizona wants every teacher to carry a gun. It becomes clear that this is not just a wish.
"Defenders of the guns" make it clear that, in the critical first few minutes, teachers will work faster than the police, and will be able to protect the children. "We do not think that teachers should attend the classes looking for an armed intruder - said Clark Aposhian, chief gun lobbyist of Utah. – “They should lock in their classrooms. However, the gun - is an extra chance if the shooter will breakthrough" (Grossman & Toppo, 2012). Former Republican Hutchinson does not see anything wrong that teachers may carry weapons in the event of a possible meeting with the followers of Adam Lanza: “For them, we are like ducks. You will not have a chance in such hell. You will die without any "if "and "but". Hutchinson says that not everyone has to come to school with a gun. However, he is most upset with those parents who think that teachers are brave cowboys (Robillard, 2013).
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However, not everyone believes this approach is correct. Lowe`s project, for example, does not provide the training of teachers at the expense of the state that representatives of the schools of South Carolina consider as a delayed threat. "This is a disaster waiting to happen - says the manager Vernon Prosser, School of York. - Teachers are often in close proximity to the students. I just do not understand how it will help schools. Do you want to help the children, what about consultants on mental health?” (Cetrone, 2012).
Overlapping the responsibilities of a teacher and a security officer will be a difficult and thankless task for teachers who do not know how to deal with criminals, "Our teachers are highly qualified educators. But they are not qualified in being a police officer," - adds Lynn Moody, Rock Hill school Superintendent. In addition, schools will face a huge responsibility: "What if a gun will shoot at the wrong time? That is why police officers and sheriff have to come to school" (Cetrone, 2012). The federal funds and state funds, through which the authorities protect the campuses, no longer are given. Most of the school authorities complain now that they have to fund the protection of schools due to limited local budgets. If the legislators believe that the armed security on campus will provide security, they should provide the means for it.
The Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon has sent a letter to school principals, in which he expressed his disagreement with such measures, "I have serious concerns about the recently proposed bill, which offers not only to equip teachers but to do so by reducing the power of local school districts. For school, safety should be done as much as possible, but this law will put our children in jeopardy and limit the ability of school districts to ensure safety" (Jeltsen, 2012).
Free Gun Zones Give a False Sense of Safety
Statistics of careless handling of weapons shows that there is no reason to think that the citizens who have received permission to carry concealed weapons are more irresponsible than the police. Mass shootings have occurred in places where guns are prohibited, and a killer knows that everything will be unarmed; these are shopping centers and schools. Therefore, schools and shopping centers are areas of helpless victims. Law-abiding citizens, in this case, turn into ducks, which are easy to kill. In each case, except for the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, mass shootings have occurred in places where the carrying of weapons was prohibited (Fund, 2012).
Again, the weakness of the U.S. law is that there is still a huge amount of "weapons-free zones" where law-abiding citizens are prohibited to bear arms by law. Exactly there similar tragedies occur. It is significant that a killed teacher - Michael Landsberry – is a combat veteran, a member of the U.S. National Guard - in fact, his body stopped the mass shooting, throwing himself on the killer and shaking him so that the vast majority of mass shootings stopped (Ehrenfreund, 2013). This is the key question we rarely pay attention to. In the case of Michael Landsberry could have a legal ability to carry weapons in school, considering his track record, he certainly would have taken advantage of this right and the tragedy could have been avoided.
Neither the police can be on the crime scene within seconds. So the only way to minimize these tragedies is to better equip law-abiding citizens. At the same time, criminals are almost never using a legal weapon - in this case, it was illegal, the boy brought a gun out of the house, being a minor, and especially brought it to school, where it is prohibited to carry a gun.
However, it should be understood that we learn about these tragedies only by virtue of a larger development of the mass media in our country. The tragedy of mass murder, including in secondary schools, is systematically taking place not only in the U.S. but also, for example, in Asia, where those crazy criminals use lighters, petrol, knives, and axes, providing no fewer victims. However, a statistical measure of mortality as a result of violent attacks in the world is several times higher than in the U.S., in general, and among youth in particular, so we should have no illusions here. If the rest do not speak about their problems as opposed to us, it does not mean they have none.
However, now the campaign is gaining momentum for a ban on "weapons-free zones," and the teachers, who are involved in educational programs on responsible ownership and use of weapons in such situations, support this ban. Americans make conclusions of their tragedies in the right direction, so the murder rate has steadily declined there year after year.
Take Chicago as an example, the statistics on Chicago is next. In 2011 there were only 433 murders in Chicago and 361 people were killed in shootings. 351 were shot with a pistol. One was killed with a rifle, 5 with a shotgun and 4 were undefined (Christensen, 2013). We will suppose they were also killed with a rifle. Thus, 351gun cases against 10 cases of military weapons, and that is what the authorities want to ban. The fact remains that, for example, in Chicago, military weapons are not used for an attack. The percentage is too small to take it all into account. We know that Chicago has the most stringent restrictions on gun ownership in the country. In Chicago, shortly before the tragedy in Newton, school-age children were also shot. Why this news was not worthy to be presented by the mass media and for the tears of the President? The answer is because Chicago has adopted the most stringent gun laws.
In 2012, 62 Children Aged 6 to 18 Were Killed in Chicago
In 2012, 62 children aged 6 to 18 were killed in Chicago, 446 were wounded. Of course, the most injured were teenagers aged 16 to 18 years; these are a group of risks. The peak of the mass murders in Chicago was in 1929. Cases of mass killings fell from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century (Funds, 2012). A chance of being killed in a mass shooting is equal to a chance of being killed by a lightning strike. In 2012, the murder rate in New York reached a historic low for the last 50 years. Crime rates drop sharply. Meanwhile, thanks to the media, 68% of respondents believe that the crime rate is increasing (Saad, 2011). We are all set to see through all fear of any change: morality falls; it used to be better before, etc. It is being said at all times. What does the crime rate depend on? On investment in the police.
Let us return to the world statistics, where opponents of arms, as already mentioned, accused the United States of the liberal arms legislation, resulting, in their opinion, to the mass executions. Then why is China, where people cannot own guns at all, mass shootings happen, and in the Baltic States and Moldova, where one can purchase everything including guns and can carry them - no? Also, why there are no mass executions in the Czech Republic (where to bear arms is rather liberal enough according to European standards and legislation), Bulgaria (where most recently a man does not require a license/permit for concealed and open carrying of weapons)? And why did an almost completely disarmed (especially at that time) kooky cop in South Korea shoot at people in five villages, killing 57 people (+ himself) within 8 Hours?
Though mass shootings are rare in China still there is the regularly organized mass destruction of people with knives or motor vehicles. There are thugs with knives who attacked a police station and bystanders. Do we need it? In Japan, too, there are such cases. That is not enough? There are also more dangerous ways and mass extermination. For example, explosions (which claimed more than one and a half times more lives than Breivik`s shooting), and - the most dangerous way - burnings (47 dead, 198 dead (almost 3 times more than Breivik shot).
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As one can see, the ban on arms almost does not stop crazies - they find other ways to kill people. Those go to kill to such places where they cannot have a military response. As one can see, a weapon-free zone is a threat to society, and armed civilians are its salvation.
Therefore, there many people who want to eliminate weapon-free zones in order to prevent mass shootings (do not forget that almost all schools in the United States declared to be weapon-free zones since 1990) (Patten, 2012).
South Dakota: a Local Law Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns in School
However, there are exceptions. Since July 1, in the state of South Dakota, a local law allowing teachers to carry guns in schools came into force. Despite the very small population - just over 833 thousand people, 703 public schools are located in the state, which gave South Dakota the title of State with the largest number of schools in regard to the number of residents. In this case, the teachers' salary is the lowest in the country. School teachers, as well as security guards hired by agencies and volunteers, have the right to arms themselves in case of attack.
However, one must go through a certain procedure. Local police should develop a program of arming teachers, and school board members should vote for their participation in this program. The residents of the district may require teachers to carry weapons. However, the law stipulates that teachers have the right to reject this possibility if one sticks to peaceful views. Applicants are required to undergo training similar to that received by employees of law enforcement bodies.
Meanwhile, state officials claim that they have not heard yet from anyone from school principals to express a desire to empower their employees. Although earlier Attorney General, Marty Dzhekli, whose subordinates have developed rules for the new law, explained that several members of the school board asked him about the new program, but have not been notified whether they have passed a vote for participation in the program. Chief lobbyist of the new law Congressman Scott Craig said that schools need time to decide whether they need to participate in the program or not. "Some people intend to wait a year and see how it will go - said Craig. – This is security. We protect the most valuable thing we have - our children."
However, the associations representing school boards, principals and teachers are against guns in school, explaining that weapon in schools increases the risk. "We continue to believe that the schools are a very safe place," - said Rob Monsonm executive director of the Association of South Dakota School Administrators. He added that he did not hear that at least someone was planning to take advantage of the new law. According to him, schools are looking for other ways to protect students. Wayne Pogany, Executive Director of the Association of School Boards of the State, said that before the adoption of the law there was no detailed discussion. "If a firearm in the classroom is the best version of what we can come up with, then I will support it last" - quoted Pogany in The New York Times (Eligon, 2013).
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The School Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut
The law was adopted in early March on the background of a heated debate after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where in December a 20- year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and 6 school employees. After the tragedy in Newtown, the National Rifle Association proposed a plan to implement more enhanced protection, and two dozen states began to discuss the possibility of arming teachers. However, these measures are not implemented. Some states already have the ability to arm teachers. Hawaii and New Hampshire gave out the right to carry a gun under the jacket and they can let the teacher carry a weapon - there is no explicit prohibition. A guide school in Texas has the right to allow teachers to bring guns to work. In Utah, teachers can go armed, but should not show a weapon.
There was no emergency involving armed teachers, say proponents of the idea. However, there have been two incidents in schools at the beginning of the year: a school principal in Texas allowed employees to arm themselves, and the school maintenance worker shot himself, and in the state of New York a police officer who was sent to a school for protection, accidentally shot in the hallway during class. South Dakota is the only state in which the law expressly permits teachers to use firearms at work. Experts say that in the Midwest, such a rule will not cause much concern as it might be in other states. In South Dakota children are early accustomed to the sight of rifles, shotguns, and pistols - the Buckeyes like to hunt and keep quite a variety of weapons in their houses. In anticipation of Obama's presentation of new measures to restrict the sale of weapons in the U.S., there have been two new cases of shootings in college.
In shooting clubs, it is a normal practice to take eight-year-old children for education. 14 year-olds may be already involved in the shooting of plates, as well as in competitions in target shooting, using semi-automatic rifles. "Our children are involved in the hunt when they are not even teenagers. We know the guns, we respect the gun" - said Kevin Jensen vice-president of the school board in South Dakota, who supported the law (Eligon, 2013). The law supporters stress out rather long distances between population centers in the state as a further argument for the new law. Some schools are located 30-45 minutes away from the nearest emergency services.
At the same time, the issue of improving the control of the state for arms trafficking is discussing in the United States. However, in April the Senate rejected both proposals of President Barack Obama - a ban on the sale of assault rifles to the population and multiply weapons, as well as more thorough background checks of arms` buyers. "Overall, it is a pretty shameful day for Washington," - said President of the United States after the vote. According to him, the poll found that 90 % of Americans support stricter inspections of arms buyers. Obama noted that 90 % of Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the idea, but 90 % of Republicans opposed it. The amendments were made by lobbyists for the National Rifle Association, who said that this violated the constitutional right to bear arms.
At the same time, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would prefer to give gun owners the best possible opportunities. A few days after the shooting in Connecticut, he said that the concealed carrying of weapons should be allowed in any public place. Still, the compromise solutions were also named. For example, Frank Niceley, the Republican senator from the state of Tennessee, prompts at least one armed officer on patrol duty at a time in school.
That what is happening gives us hope that an antigun psychosis does not take a national scale, and a common-sense yet will protect Americans from sacrificing their own Constitution. Contrary to lies and propaganda pouring out of the TV, not all Americans are running to the police to surrender their weapons and to demand disarmament. There are those who look at things without bias, and we hope that they will take measures to prevent the recurrence of "shooting fish in a barrel", as Betty Olson, a Republican member of the South Dakota House of Representatives, stated.
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