Thursday, 20 December 2012

Teachers carrying concealed weapons make for safer schools?

Dear Readers,

Today, I bring you and interesting article, verbatim by Angela K. Brown of the Associated Press in the Toronto Star which will doubtless become part of a debate about how to make schools safer for our children. If the authorities can't or won't do it, does the rationale have to be; we'll just have to do it ourselves? My response is below and there is room for your comment below that.

Angela K. Brown/AP The Harrold Independent School District has a policy allowing teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons, a controversial rule that's now being considered in at least five other states in the wake of last week's deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

In the tiny Texas town of Harrold, children and their parents don’t give much thought to safety at the community’s lone school — mostly because some of the teachers are carrying concealed weapons.
The nearest sheriff’s office is 30 minutes away, and people tend to know — and trust — one another. So the school board voted to let teachers bring guns to school. “We don’t have money for a security guard, but this is a better solution,” Superintendent David Thweatt said. “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.”

In the awful aftermath of last week's Connecticut elementary school shooting, lawmakers in a growing number of states — including Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota and Oregon — have said they will consider laws allowing teachers and school administrators to carry firearms at school. Texas law bans guns in schools unless the school has given written authorization. Arizona and six other states have similar laws with exceptions for people who have licenses to carry concealed weapons. Harrold’s school board voted unanimously in 2007 to allow employees to carry weapons. After obtaining a state concealed-weapons permit, each employee who wants to carry a weapon must be approved by the board based on his or her personality and reaction to a crisis, Thweatt said.

Employees also must undergo training in crisis intervention and hostage situations. And they must use bullets that minimize the risk of ricochet, similar to those carried by air marshals on planes. CaRae Reinisch, who lives in the nearby community of Elliott, said she took her children out of a larger school and enrolled them in Harrold two years ago, partly because she felt they would be safer in a building with armed teachers. “I think it’s a great idea for trained teachers to carry weapons,” Reinish said. “But I hate that it has come to this.”
The superintendent won’t disclose how many of the school’s 50 employees carry weapons, saying that revealing that number might jeopardize school security.

The school has 103 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Most of them rarely think about who is carrying a gun. “This is the first time in a long time that I’ve thought about it,” said Matt Templeton, the principal’s 17-year-old son. “And that’s because of what happened” in Connecticut. Opponents insist that having more people armed at a school, especially teachers or administrators who aren’t trained to deal with crime on a daily basis, could lead to more injuries and deaths. They point to an August shooting outside the Empire State Building, where police killed a laid-off clothing designer after he fatally shot his former colleague. Nine bystanders were wounded by police gunfire, ricochets and fragments.

“You are going to put teachers, people teaching 6-year-olds in a school, and expect them to respond to an active-shooter situation?” said Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who called the idea of arming teachers “madness.” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, said focusing on arming teachers distracts from the “real things” that could help prevent a school shooting “and at worse it furthers a dangerous conversation that only talks about guns as protection without a discussion about the serious risks they present.”

As the debate continues, Harrold’s school plans to leave its policy unchanged. “Nothing is 100 per cent at all. ... But hope makes for a terrible plan, hoping that (a tragedy) won’t happen,” Thweatt said. “My question is: What have you done about it? How have you planned?”

                                                                     Tots at school!

my response......

Well, it would appear that an unusual but not to be unexpected reaction is underway when a Utah sixth-grader caught with a gun at school told administrators he brought the weapon to defend himself in case of an attack similar to the mass shooting last week at an elementary school in Connecticut. The media report said two classmates at West Kearns Elementary School reported the gun to a teacher toward the end of the school day yesterday. School District spokesman Ben Horsley says the teacher “immediately apprehended the student,” and police responded shortly after. Horsley tells KSL-TV that an unloaded gun and ammunition were found in the 11-year-old's backpack. Authorities have not released the child's name.

                                                    Children learning to read and write!

A Virginia man was arrested Wednesday after he ventured into an Elementary School carrying a 2-by-4 board with the words "high powered rifle" imprinted and was charged with disorderly conduct and booked into jail after his arrest. Although his exact motives remain unknown, sheriff's office investigators believe he was trying to communicate a message about school security.......or lack think??? School officials encountered this fellow after he walked through an unlocked front door and entered the school's central office. This fellow had no actual weapons with him, offered no resistance during his arrest and had no contact with any students. The Principal took him into her office and closed the door until law enforcement officers arrived and classes followed their normal schedule throughout the day.

The powerful U.S. gun rights lobby went on the offensive on Friday arguing that schools should have armed guards, on a day that Americans remembered the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre with a moment of silence. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, noting that banks and airports are patrolled by armed guards, while schools typically are not. His remarks - in which he charged that the news media and violent video games shared blame for the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history - were twice interrupted by protesters who unfurled signs and shouted "stop the killing."

                                                                Learning arithmetic?

Speaking in Washington, LaPierre urged lawmakers to station armed police officers in all schools by the time students return from the Christmas break in January. LaPierre said that his group has remained "respectively silent" since last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. "out of respect for the families" of the victims. “Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment," LaPierre said. "While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectively silent."

Despite attempts by a few to use the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut to forward their anti-gun agenda, Americans feel that there are other avenues they would rather explore to protect to innocent children, according to a new Gallup Poll. In order of preference, the poll shows that 53% of Americans would favor an increased police presence at schools, 50% wanted to increase government spending on mental health screening and treatment, 47% thought that gun violence on TV, in movies and in video games should be decreased, and 42% thought the sale of assault and semi-automatic guns should be banned, according to William Bigelow in Breitbart.

                                                                  a typical school day!

Almost as many people (34%) thought that at least one school official in every school should carry a gun as those who favored banning the sale of assault and semi-automatic guns, while 27% felt that the news media should not print or read the names of the shooter. The news blackout of the shooter drew the highest percentage of those who thought it would be ineffective, at 40%, but the gun ban was a close second in the ineffectiveness rating at 36%. What also becomes clear from the poll is the public’s perception that all of the solutions offered would be fruitless, as 53% was the highest positive rating of any of the remedies.

Granted, while the two examples noted above may seem a little extreme, they do point out that folks, big and small have real concerns that need to be addressed...pronto! Growing up through the Toronto school system, not only was security lax in the main building, it was not uncommon to see portables in the yard to accommodate all of the boomers! Now, some schools in Toronto have metal detectors to screen folks moving in and out of the building. Sadly, it is a new world out there so the question becomes...what form of security will taxpayers demand of each school board to make students...and parents in the United States and Canada, too feel secure sending their children off to class? What say you, taxpayers?


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