In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, a steady stream of Republican lawmakers is rallying to arm teachers, volunteers and, in some cases, students to defend against would-be attackers. As I’ve written about before, the concept of arming teachers and others in schools as a primary strategy to prevent gun violence is driven by the fantasy that inexperienced civilians can be trained to deliver a kill shot.
It’s a dreadful idea frought with pitfalls: Is an armed teacher expected to leave students unattended to hunt down a shooter? Who’s liable if an armed teacher or volunteer strikes an innocent child? Can armed teachers focus on teaching with one ear constantly tuned to the hallway for danger?
Despite these legitimate concerns, Republicans in a string of states push forward with legislation allowing teachers, principals and school administrators to carry guns in schools, and students to carry firearms on college campuses.
Let’s peruse the week that was:
In Mississippi, the House Education Committee approved a measure that would sanction two teachers or employees in each public school to carry concealed weapons. The bill’s author admitted teaming up with the NRA to craft the legislation. Channeling too many Chuck Norris movies, Rep. John Moore (R) told reporters the bill allows Mississippi school districts “to set up…a secret force within that school that’s armed.” Think Delta Force, with duty-free lunch and daily planning period. Next stop for the bill is debate and vote by the full House.
In North Carolina, Republican overachievers have been in session less than a week, but they’ve managed to unveil seven gun-related proposals, including a bill sponsored by Sen. Stan Bingham (R) that allows lightly-trained volunteers to carry guns on school property. Other proposals pending in the House include letting gun owners keep firearms in their locked cars and allowing concealed carry inside restaurants. Note to self: Pack Kevlar vest with espadrilles and capris for the Outer Banks this summer. Footnote to self: Maybe time to give Ocean City, Maryland a second look.
In Oklahoma, a bill allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns passed a House legislative committee. If violence breaks out, State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) predicts school staff will be able to meet it “with like force” after completing training similar to what’s available at police academies. So, following this train of thought, if teachers are trained to perform equal to police officers, can Kindergarten Cop be far behind?
In Texas, college campuses are currently “gun-free” zones. That doesn’t sit well with Sen. Brian Birdwell (R) who, like the Founding Fathers, believes in a “2nd amendment right to go on to the campus of higher learning” packing heat. Birdwell’s bill permits students and faculty who have a concealed handgun license to carry their guns to academic buildings and dormitories. Concealed firearms would still be banned in hospitals, bars and churches on-campus, because, well, even Texas has standards.
And in Kansas, oh sweet Kansas. Really. This is not The Onion. This is yet another Republican who’d rather fixate on out-of-this-world gadgets to curb school violence than talk about gun control.