Thweatt

Guns are the Solution: Fight Gunfire with Gunfire

“We don’t have money for a security guard, but this is a better solution. A shooter could take out a guard or officer with a visible, holstered weapon, but our teachers have master’s degrees, are older and have had extensive training. And their guns are hidden. We can protect our children.” – Superintendent David Thweatt

The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting has brought gun control to the forefront of American political debates in recent weeks. Op-eds have been written, televised debates have been broadcast, and even a petition to have Piers Morgan deported for “waging war on the Second Amendment” has been signed (by more than 91,000 people) in the wake of the shooting. A good portion of the debate has, with good reason, focused on the idea of teachers carrying firearms in schools.

U.S. school districts have spent millions of dollars fortifying their buildings, doling out money for metal detectors, security cameras, and security officers. However, security officers can be taken down by an assailant, as they stand out, and cameras merely help catch criminals, not prevent crimes. In Texas there is a district that has not spent a dime on security, yet it is the most secure school district in America. Since 2007, when the “Guardian Plan” took effect, teachers in Harrold, Texas have been able to carry concealed firearms on school grounds in order to protect students. Superintendent David Thweatt made an excellent point when he highlighted the fact that teachers are the first line of defense against a potential threat. When a shooter is in the building, calling the police won’t help. Thweatt understands that defense needs to be provided “not four, five minutes or six minutes” from the time the shooter enters the building, but at that exact moment. Furthermore, the “five minutes” Thweatt estimates is generous, since the police are not even required to show up. DeShaney v. Winnebago County, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, and Warren v. District of Columbia are all cases where courts have held that the police do not have a duty to protect citizens. The only way to truly be safe in America is to be armed.

But arming people isn’t going to do much good if the people wielding the weapons are not trained on how to store and use them safely. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered teachers concealed weapons carry training for free this year and instead of a dozen showing up like last year, more than 200 teachers showed up this year. Since Utah allows people to carry licensed concealed weapons on school property, teachers will be able to defend their students if they wish without any special district rules. In Washington, Liz Pike, a state congressional representative, recently proposed a law that would allow teachers to carry on school grounds. Pike’s plan requires psychological testing and firearm training to ensure that the teachers are qualified. Arizona’s attorney general is also proposing a change to state law, which would allow one teacher in each school to carry a gun. This would allow the educator with the most training to carry. Trained teachers are the only efficient way to protect our schools.

However, many people in Indiana, which has in place a loophole that allow teachers to carry if they are designated as security officers, find it “crazy” to allow armed teachers in the classroom. School safety consultant Chuck Hibbert, a former Indiana state trooper, explained his concerns as such: students may be able to overpower teachers and take away their guns, stray bullets may hit innocent students, and teachers may not store the guns properly. The stray bullets argument is flimsy for three reasons. The first is that the teachers are trained. The second is that the shooter would shoot them anyways, and with intent to kill, too. And the third is that the police have the same problem; just ask the Empire State shooting victims, all of whom were struck by stray police bullets. The “not stored properly” argument is also solved by training. The “someone may overpower the teacher” arguments are a little more complex, but consider this. If a teacher isn’t strong enough to stop a fight or a shooting or whatever without a gun, then he has automatically lost that battle if he is unarmed. However, if he is armed, at least he has a chance of downing the assailant and putting an end to the mess. So, if I have to choose between a zero percent chance of success against an assailant versus a chance of winning or getting disarmed, I will chose the second, because at least I have some chance of succeeding.

Every state needs to adopt a policy that allows teachers to carry concealed weapons on school property. It is the only cost effective way to ensure the safety of our nation’s children. Sure, accidents and shootings may occur, but most arguments used by opponents of these measures are exaggerated. If you are hesitant about supporting policies such as these, just look at the outcome of the Aurora theater shooting compared to that of the recent San Antonio theater shooting. In the first case, nobody was allowed to carry a gun into the movies, and 70 people were shot; in the second case, patrons were allowed to carry guns, and only one innocent bystander was shot. Guns are the surest way to defend our students.

Adam Ondo | University of Rochester | @JoplinMaverick

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12 Responses

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  1. Bobby
    Jan 15, 2013 - 03:00 AM

    My apologies, I began something I did not finish. Allow me to complete that. Sorry for the unconvenient, consecutive posts.
    The teenagers began shooting at 11:19 a.m. and the first police correspondence didn’t come until 11:23. Even then, the officer was distracted (I believe by wounded students attempting to escape) and at that point, ten were already killed, two injured. The next police response came at 11:26 (with none of them entering the building and attempting any type of investigative search for the perpetrators). Then, came the seven-minute long savagery in the library. Seven minutes. What could have armed teachers (multiple ones) been able to do with guns in hand in seven minutes? Probably much damage, unless the two teenagers were very proficient at eluding (in this case, they wouldn’t have been too complicated to hit since suicide was intentional).
    So, in conclusion, congratulations Utah, let’s see some more of that.

    Reply
  2. Bobby
    Jan 15, 2013 - 02:53 AM

    I agree with this article. I’m actually writing a persuasive paper in my English College Writing class and am doing it on this subject. Certainly, in circumstances such as mass murders and spree killings in schools and public places, the police cannot be responsible enough for innumerable, innocent casualties.
    Let’s take Columbine, for example, as I am exemplifying in my piece. The teens began shooting at 11:19 a.m. Columbine High School DID have a security guard, but he was off campus, at lunch. When he was called in, as ignorant as the facts pose, he was not wearing his prescription eyeglasses. Now, let’s apply this armed teacher/professor scenario to that calamity. If one, or several of those teachers had available firearms, they could have systematically taken both of them out, especially since there were several times they went separate directions. One could have hid in the library, behind a desk until they crept near, and sniped one or both, consecutively. Sure, accidents could occur, but the probability of a criminal death to a citizen death would be much larger. If anything, Congress should just give it an opportunity. The Assault Weapons ban wasn’t permanent and expired after ten years. Maybe something similar can be accomplished with a Concealed to Carry Defense Policy? Doesn’t necessarily have to be named that, just a bit of creativity.

    Reply
  3. Linda Standish
    Jan 10, 2013 - 12:49 AM

    “Courts have held that the police do not have a duty to protect citizens.”

    Mr. Ondo, that statement of yours is not true at all, and hinging your contention for allowing guns in schools using a false premise is nothing less than dishonest.

    What the courts have decided is that police (the government, actually) has no liability to victims of criminal acts after a crime has occurred unless what is known legally as a “special relationship” was established at the time.

    American law states that “a ‘special relationship’ only exists when the government takes custody and holds a person against their will, such as when a state incarcerates a prisoner, involuntarily commits someone to an institution, or places a child in foster care.”

    The police obviously have the duty to protect everyone within their power and jurisdiction.

    Not only is this erroneous assertion that “the police do not have a duty to protect citizens” doing a disservice to every police officer in America, it invalidates your argument from the get-go.

    Reply
    • Matthew
      Jan 10, 2013 - 10:18 PM

      “Mr. Ondo, that statement of yours is not true at all,”

      You are going to disregard the specific cases Adam mentioned without (obviously) having done a Google search to see what they are about, then the above is hands down one of the dumbest, asinine things I have ever seen from commenters on this website, right up there with “a man should try to reason with his child’s rapist.”

      This earns a double facepalm, because the stupid is so strong, one isn’t enough.

      Reply
  4. Isabel S.
    Jan 08, 2013 - 06:08 PM

    Instead of requiring teachers to get psychologically tested to ensure they’re qualified to carry a firearm, why not just require it for any person who wants to buy a gun?

    Reply
  5. Trilby
    Jan 08, 2013 - 05:29 PM

    Workplaces with guns are 5 times more likely to have gun-related deaths at them….so this would be a great way to see more death in our schools. Also, President Reagan was shot even though he had the best trained and armed guard in the world that is constantly prepared for shooters. I’d prefer to have Japan’s gun laws- which resulted in them only have TWO gun-related homicides in 2007 compared to our +10,000.

    Reply
    • Adam
      Jan 08, 2013 - 06:01 PM

      First off, I would like to see the study that said workplaces with armed people are 5x more likely to have gun deaths at them, because you can’t just generalize like you did, because I’m 99.999% sure the study is tailored to a specific field or geographic area. Also, instead of looking at different countries (which doesn’t work, as culture, economy, etc… are different, as well as laws), look at different states (which are a little less different, though by no means perfect to compare). http://www.angrybearblog.com/2012/12/guns-and-gun-deaths-state-by-state.html

      But most of the statistics don’t mean much, because it doesn’t matter if gun deaths are high if assailants are involved, because you want the number of dead assailants, robbers, muggers, etc… to go up. Also, if the homicide rate is really high, that just means people are going on knife sprees (like in China), in which case a gun would be very useful to have if you are an innocent bystander. Furthermore, since Colorado allowed students to carry guns at public colleges, there has been one extra (accidental) shooting (I believe it was a cleaning incident, and it wasn’t fatal). So allowing guns in the workplace (especially when the law is tailored to schools with trained teachers) is most likely going to bring about more good than bad (also, Harrold, TX has had no gun accidents/shootings).

      Reply
      • Trilby
        Jan 12, 2013 - 08:21 PM

        Sure, here’s the study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449263/

        You’re right, I was giving a snapshot of the study, not including all of it’s limitations or nuances. It’d be difficult to always include disclaimers fully encompassing the details of any study you want to cite. But I’m open to other evidence- do you know of any studies that show workplaces with guns reduce gun violence?

        Your link seems to show that more guns results in more gun deaths. But you seem to think that is meaningless since what matters is the number of assailants remains the same? I find that to be baffling. Certainly assailants are undesirable, but isn’t it preferable to have less access to deadly weaponry? I’d much rather live in state where assailants typically had to attack with a knife, rather than where they had access to firearms.

        Also, what does Harolld Texas have to do with anything?

      • Adam Ondo
        Jan 13, 2013 - 04:26 AM

        The study seems to be fine, but having teachers carry guns is not quite the same as allowing employees to carry guns in the work place. It would be more similar to allowing managers/supervisors to carry them. Also, Colorado, Utah, and Texas allow guns on college campuses and people aren’t getting hurt at a higher rate than when guns were banned and muggers/assailants have been fended off (I call that a success).

        Also, Harrold TX is the first case I discuss in this article.

      • Trilby
        Jan 13, 2013 - 06:15 PM

        Sorry I missed the Texas connection. I don’t think having properly trained professionals carrying weapons is a bad idea- that’s why I think the cliche “if you out law guns, only outlaws will have guns” is silly, because police would have guns and that’s not normally a bad thing.

        You seem to think violent criminal/psychopaths will go after places where there are no guards/weapons, and we therefore need to secure those locations with trained, gun-carrying individuals. Well by that logic, if we secure schools with trained professionals, then we need to do the same for churches, and for exercise groups in the park, Chuck-e-cheese, small pre-schools, etc. Not only is that a huge financial burden, but many teachers (and others) might not be willing to accept the liability, responsibility, or morality of keeping a gun in their classrooms and joining a large paramilitary force- even if you somehow paid for it. And given our large prison population and poor background screening ability, it’d be hard to ensure we were arming sane, law-abiding people to do it.

        I think it’s much easier to limit access to weapons than to have armed security everywhere there are groups of people. Look at Japan and how successful their gun control laws have been. Or Australia. They don’t need to worry about having heavily armed security at schools because they don’t make it easy for criminals and psychopaths to get deadly arsenals of weapons.

        I’m not averse to trying things like more armed security (assuming they are professionals properly trained) if it’s shown to reduce crime and not make things worse, but why are gun advocates and conservatives so averse to other sensible regulations like universal background checks or waiting periods?

  6. Kenell Touryan
    Jan 08, 2013 - 04:17 PM

    Sure, arm the country to the teeth and you will eventually get what Lebanon went through in its fratricidal war. Citizens in Lebanon were allowed to cary weapons of all sorts…it was legal. When the fratricidal war started in 1975, it lasted for 15 years killing 10% of the population in Lebanon (150,000 people). Neighbor rose against neighbor and the government was unable to stop the carnage!

    Reply
    • Christopher Rushlau
      Jan 08, 2013 - 04:58 PM

      The reason they have civil wars in Lebanon is that they have a constitution which gives the roughly thirty percent of the public which is denominated Christian the same voting power, to elect half the Parliament, as the seventy percent who are denominated Muslim. Wikipedia will tell you that even this system is undermined by the fact that they have not done a census since the 1930′s because the issue is so “controversial”. I endorse, from my armchair in Maine, the estimate that puts Shiites alone at more than half the population, so that Hezbullah is the legitimate government. In the most recent election, the Hezbullah-aligned coalition, “March 8,” got fifty five percent of the vote and forty five percent of Parliamentary seats, while “March 14″ to the reverse. And there is no serious discussion even today of changing the system, which is heartily endorsed by the EU and US.
      So this is a good way to make the point that it is not normal for people to shoot up a bunch of strangers: something is going on in the background that we need to figure out.

      Reply

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