pageok
pageok
pageok
Make Schools Safe for Kids, not Criminals:

In a new podcast for the Independence Institute's iVoices.org, I offer a shorter version of an argument I made in detail in a cover story of The Weekly Standard: the only realistic gun control policy which would stop school shootings would be to completely prohibit firearms, and confiscate the entire existing supply of more than 200 million firearms. Lesser policies (e.g., one-gun-a-month, gun registration) would, whatever their other merits, be unlikely to have a significant effect on school shootings. There are no substitutes for firearms (in both offensive and defensive situations), because firearms are fairly easy to use, and can project force at a distance.

Constitutional problems aside, it seems completely implausible to believe the gun prohibition could be successful, given the ability of the black market to supply drugs (which have been illegal for almost a century) to a wide variety of consumers, including high-school students.

The second-best--and much more realistic approach--would be to allow licensed, trained teachers and administrators to possess concealed handguns on school property. I agree that having police officers on school grounds would be very helpful, but it seems that there are not sufficient police resources to cover all schools all the time.

In 2004, I detailed how Israel (which has a well-established Swiss-style [civic duty] gun culture) and Thailand (whose government is very anti-gun) have armed teachers in order to protect schools against terrorists.

Today, Wisconsin State Represenative Frank Lasee stated: "To make our schools safe for our students to learn, all options should be on the table." (USA Today). "Israel and Thailand have well-trained teachers carrying weapons and keeping their children safe from harm. It can work in Wisconsin." (The USA Today article said that Israel has armed security guards, but not armed teachers; however, the sources cited in my Israel/Thailand article, supra, state that Israel has both.)

The left-side column of my home page has more links to articles by Independence Institute authors arguing that the false promise of "gun-free school zones" has made schools into one of the very few places in the United States where would-be killers are guaranteed not to face the risk of armed victims who can fight back and save lives.

Generally speaking, I have heard very few serious arguments against an armed teachers policy (for the minority of teachers who would want to carry, and would undertake the serious training which many thousands of certified firearms instructors would gladly provide for free).

Some critics state that schools are, statistically, still relatively safe, mass murders notwithstanding. This is true, but it would still be beneficial to reduce the number of children and teachers who are murdered.

Other people worry that a student might steal a teacher's gun. Putting aside the fact that it's not that difficult for a determined person to get a gun somewhere else (e.g., stealing from someone's home), the risk could be addressed through policies requiring that the gun always be carried on the teacher's body, or through similar policies.

Some persons are fearful that an angry teacher might shoot a student. But if you think that the your children's teachers might kill your child, if they had a weapon, then you ought to get your child out of that school as soon as possible. There might be too many mediocre teachers in some schools, but I don't that American teachers are borderline killers.

Finally, there are arguments that are really nothing more than generalized objections of armed self-defense, as well as to armed police. E.g., "What if the teacher aimed at the killer, but missed and hit a student?" This is always a risk--but it's a far smaller risk than allowing a killer to aim at his victims methodically. Police officers sometimes miss too, but that's not a reason to disarm the police.

"But the police are highly trained." Fine. Set the teacher training standard high too. A teacher does not need every component of police training — such as how to react if a driver in a traffic stop tries to kill the police officer. If you want teachers trained to the relevant police levels of skill in Close Quarters Combat, go ahead. Personally, I think we would be better off with a larger number of teachers who had at least a moderate level of training, rather than a small number with expert training. But even a small quantity of teachers with the tools to protect their students would be a good first step.

There are plenty of teachers who would not want to carry a firearm; of that group, some would, however, be interested in training with and carrying defensive sprays, or in learning some basic techniques of unarmed combat--particularly, how to disarm someone when his attention is distracted. I wouldn't advise anyone to bring Mace to a gunfight, but I do think that any form of skilled, practiced resistance is better than passively allowing students to be lined up against a blackboard and murdered.

If you are interested in the topic, you may also be interested in my media column which will appear in the Saturday Rocky Mountain News, which explores the terrible problem of how media coverage of school shootings leads to more school shootings. One prong of the problem is sensational coverage which publicizes the perpetrator (e.g., newsmagazines putting perpetrators on the cover). But the larger problem is that even sober, responsible coverage seems to play a role in causing copycats. For the latter problem, I have no solution, but I hope that starting the discussion might lead to other people suggesting solutions.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Training to resist school shootings:
  2. Make Schools Safe for Kids, not Criminals:
Kate1999 (mail):
Maybe we should give guns to House pages.
10.6.2006 3:39am
M. Stack (mail):
Good point about the illegality of drugs. Just because you make something illegal, doesn't mean it will disberse.

So, outlawing guns will do nothing to stop school violence. The question shouldn't be how to stop it, but rather, how to neutralize it. Arming teachers is a way, and one that should be seriously considered.
10.6.2006 3:59am
Cornellian (mail):
Is violence in schools really so extensive? Arguably arming teachers in every school in America because of the occasional violence at individual schools would result in more shooting deaths rather than fewer. Besides the prospect of an armed teacher going berserk, there's also the very real possibility that someone inside the school will get a hold of the teacher's gun. Even if that's not especially likely, even a small percentage of occurrences could dwarf the gun violence in schools that we have now.


[DK: Your presience is impressive, since you raised several issues which I addressed in a revised post, several minutes after creating the first post. I hope my elaborated post responds to the questions you raised. I want to make sure that other comment-readers understand that you weren't oblivious to my posted analysis of the questions you raised; rather, you raised them before they had been addressed.]
10.6.2006 4:05am
Miriam A. Cherry (mail):
Would give a new meaning to the Socratic method.
10.6.2006 4:23am
Miriam A. Cherry (mail):
Sorry, but I just seriously ragged on this post over at Prawfsblawg... Call me crazy, but it just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want in a learning environment...
10.6.2006 5:01am
BTD_Venkat (mail) (www):
Definitely agree with Miriam. Regardless of your ideas on practicality of control . . . it sets a nasty baseline w/respect to violence and arms for kids.

Really nasty. I would pass on having my kids in such an environment.
10.6.2006 5:14am
BTD_Venkat (mail) (www):
Also, why should the guns be concealed? If people have them - why not have them fully displayed. It may sort of add to the educational environment. If you know what I'm sayin.
10.6.2006 5:20am
Kevin P. (mail):

but it just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want in a learning environment...

"seem" is not good enough. Let's quit "feeling" about this issue and start thinking about it.
10.6.2006 5:20am
BTD_Venkat (mail) (www):
Mind control over bullets is one option.

Good point Kevin P.
10.6.2006 5:25am
Kevin P. (mail):
Incidentally, the State of Utah's concealed weapons permits are valid "throughout the state" and the state pre-emption law prohibits any institution or agency of the state from making any rule that restricts the possession or carrying of firearms.

This means that any person (including a teacher) with a Utah concealed weapons permit may carry a concealed pistol in a school.

Despite a strong gun control campaign vigorously backed by the Salt Lake Tribune and other media organizations, this policy stands and has in fact been strengthened over the last few years.

And Utah's schools remain very safe.

Gun laws don't disarm criminals! Criminals routinely disregard morally obvious laws against rape, sexual assault and murder. Gun laws disarm law abiding people and leave them and the children they safeguard defenseless against criminals. Don't let your school have a bullseye painted on it.
10.6.2006 5:27am
BTD_Venkat (mail) (www):
It would be really cool to have teachers dress in Camouflage!
10.6.2006 5:47am
J. L.:

There might be too many mediocre teachers in some schools, but I don't that American teachers are borderline killers.


With all the teacher-student sex lately, it's really not THAT big of a strech to think that giving teachers guns could easily lead to bigger problems.


But if you think that the your children's teachers might kill your child, if they had a weapon, then you ought to get your child out of that school as soon as possible.


How can you know? You can't predict these things. You could say that about any of your kids, if you think another student might kill your child you should get your child out of the school. I highly doubt (sarcsam, I'm sure) that had ANY parent who has lost a child in these shootings known ahead of time, they certainly wouldn't have sent their child to school.

Lets start with the sex issue first. When the government can predict and prevent teachers from molesting and/or becoming involved in "consentual" physical relationships with students, I'll maybe trust them to know which ones might turn killers.

Or maybe we should just start handing out condoms so the teachers who do decide to have sex with their students can be "safe" about that too. After all, it's all about keeping the kids "safe" right?
10.6.2006 7:45am
PersonFromPorlock:
Cornellian:

Is violence in schools really so extensive? Arguably arming teachers in every school in America because of the occasional violence at individual schools would result in more shooting deaths rather than fewer.

Actually, violence is rare in most parts of America -- most police officers still retire without having needed their guns. But that's no reason to disarm police, because the possibility of violence is always there, and it's likewise no reason not to arm teachers.

A better objection might be that most teachers are gormless apparatchiks who, armed, would still only dither in the face of a threat to their students.
10.6.2006 8:04am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Arming teachers would be a drastic and highly divisive act, and I doubt the public would accept such a policy. A country with 300 million people is going to have violent incidents, even in schools, from time to time—we have to accept this basic fact of life. If we did arm a large number of teachers, then I suspect eventually at least one teacher would misuse his gun, and that incident would lead to a paroxysm of debate and rancor.

Israel is a special case. There we have a country surrounded by enemies, and its schools have been the targets of terrorists. Moreover the public there is more accepting of firearms because most citizens have done military service.

Constitutional problems aside, it seems completely implausible to believe the gun prohibition could be successful, given the ability of the black market to supply drugs (which have been illegal for almost a century) to a wide variety of consumers, including high-school students.

I think it's more than implausible-- it's impossible, at least in this country. You can always make a gun with a small machine shop. After all a gun is basically a tube with a projectile and a propellant. The Chinese used gunpowder-filled tubes as early as 1232 and first recorded use of a firearm was in 1364. It would require a Soviet-style dictatorship to control the availability of the basic components of a firearm.
10.6.2006 8:08am
comatus (mail):
Keep in mind that the districts that have the lowest school bus accident rate are the ones in which students drive the bus. Why not eliminate the union middleman here, and just allow students to defend themselves--a right guaranteed them in the Constitution. Worked for me 35 years ago, "before" there was "violence." It will work now.
10.6.2006 8:36am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
My high school (Hillside NJ) had a rifle range, and competitions with other schools, and kids on the school bus carrying their guns to or from home, and nobody thought anything of it, in the late 50s.

On the other hand, the media weren't getting ratings by scaring women then, either.

That's the cause of the problem, together with the opportunity presented for other nutballs to get their grievance on the front page by supplying them with whatever the horror-of-the-day is, themselves.

Look for about five cycles before it's played out and they move on to shark attacks again.

Terrorists need the media too, incidentally.
10.6.2006 8:51am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
"Call me crazy, but it just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want in a learning environment..."
I am not quite sure I understand this point of view. It is almost as if you are positing some sort of utopian public education system. But, esp. the high schools and, now, middle schools are not. Drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. are prevelant, and, in some cases, ubiquitous.

On the other hand, I have worked in situations where most of the men had concealed carry permits, and you never, ever, saw a gun visible in the office. You knew there were alawys guns around there, if you thought about it, but you never really did. And, I would suspect that teachers would be more in this vein - not the type to flash their guns around, but rather, just have them there, JIC.

Along that vein, I should note that there is a good chance that many of the students at Platte Canyon were reasonably familiar with firearms, and they would most likely not havve thought twice about armed teachers, as many of their parents are armed. Bailey and the 285 corrider may be turning into a bedroom community for Denver and environs, but traditionally, that far up 285 was quite rural, and still has that atmosphere. When my grandparents had a girls camp, they used to board their horses for the winter in Park county, usually around Bailey, but sometimes on into South Park (yes, the same one). Bailey was preferred, since they would often lose horses over the winter in South Park itself. Nevertheless, this is still an area where you see a lot of pickups with gun racks, esp. since many of those moving in share that ethos, and that is why they are willing to commute an hour to get to work.

Of course, the Amish school shooting was just the opposite - rural in an environment of no guns.
10.6.2006 9:28am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I mentioned in my last post that I had worked in an office where most of the men had concealed carry permits. That was, coincidently with Kevin's post above, in Utah. The firm had apparently paid for the required classes for the attorneys in the office. I never saw a gun in the office, but knew that there were invariably some around. You just never thought about it. You did suspect though that some, at least, were proficient, given how much talk there was around the office about hunting. No wonder Cabellas is pulling in almost as many people in the valley as is the Temple.

As another note on that Utah law, I seem to remember a story about the 2004 election where the Republicans there were hosting Cheney. For a short time, there was an apparent impass, since the Secret Service wouldn't allow guns near the VP, but there was nothing that anyone could apparently do legally about it, or, indeed wanted to. Apparently, they came to a compromise - bringing in gun lockers for the event, where everyone could lock up their handguns while the VP was present.
10.6.2006 9:37am
JSinger (mail):
A little advice from a centrist Republican:

There are a lot of people out there who are concerned about Second Amendment rights who don't think that the solution to everything is more guns. Whatever the practical merits of arming teachers, the NRA-ish response to every school shooting -- that it points out the need for more guns in schools -- is a political loser and only strengthens the idea that gun-rights activists are a bunch of lunatics.

And pointing to war zones in Israel and Thailand as the prototypes for your ideal society only reinforces that.
10.6.2006 9:43am
Choosing Sides 2 (mail):
And after a couple teachers kill students in a fit of rage, Kopel will have a new solution for us: arm the students.

There isn't a problem of violence that more guns can't solve.
10.6.2006 9:43am
geekWithA.45 (mail) (www):
>>but it just doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want >>in a learning environment...

Have you been to the movies lately?

In "shall issue" carry permit states, we estimate that the average movie theater, which holds about 200 people, has somewhere between two and ten lawfully armed citizens sitting in the dark there with you, peaceably munching their popcorn, shushing their kids.

Does this somehow ruin your "entertainment environment"?


Of course not! Not for rational people, anyway.
10.6.2006 9:49am
sk (mail):
"Some critics state that schools are, statistically, still relatively safe, mass murders notwithstanding. This is true, but it would still be beneficial to reduce the number of children and teachers who are murdered."

Why don't you think teachers are just as likley to be crazy killers as the rest of the population?

Let's say the likelihood of a person being a crazy guy killing students (the Amish school shooting, Columbine) is one in 100,000,000 (that would be three per year in the US). Do you believe that teachers have a lower likelihood of being a crazy guy who wants to kill students? Why?

I'm not denying that armed teachers may deter some crazies.
I'm also not claiming that armed teachers are more likely to be crazies.
I'm just wondering why armed teachers would necessarily be less likely to be crazies (and if so, there's no net reduction in incidents).

Sk
10.6.2006 10:24am
Kevin P. (mail):

Whatever the practical merits of arming teachers, the NRA-ish response to every school shooting -- that it points out the need for more guns in schools -- is a political loser and only strengthens the idea that gun-rights activists are a bunch of lunatics.


If there are in fact practical merits to arming teachers, should they not be a legitimate part of the debate around school safety and security?

The gun banners regularly cry for more and more restrictions on law abiding citizens that usually would have not had any effect on the most recent school shooting.

Why should ideas be silenced because some people will find them unpalatable? Challenge the idea if you think it is not practical.

As far as ideas being political losers, here are some things that I thought would never happen ten years ago:
The number of states allowing non-discretionary concealed carry would expand from a handful to 35
The assault weapons ban would expire and be replaced with - nothing!
10.6.2006 10:27am
anonVCfan:
I think back to high school, and for about half of the teachers there, the thought of those people packing heat is a little scary.
10.6.2006 10:31am
scarhill:
Sk, I don't get your point.

According to the census bureau there are 6.2 million teachers in the US. By your estimate, that would lead to a teacher-caused school shooting every 16 years. Realisticly, there's nothing to stop a teacher from bringing a gun to school now, so why do you think that allowing armed teachers would raise the risk? And if techers were armed, other armed teachers might be able to stop a teacher-shooter.

So how would armed teachers significantly raise the risk of teacher-caused shootings?
10.6.2006 10:53am
james (mail):
Teachers having sex with stundents is numericly a bigger problem than non-gang related gun violence.
10.6.2006 10:56am
Cornellian (mail):
Teachers having sex with stundents is numericly a bigger problem than non-gang related gun violence.

Not if you exclude the seemingly high percentage of cases that involve hot women in their 20's and guys 16 to 18.
10.6.2006 11:01am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
As you tacitly admit in your post schools are quite safe locations already. Additionally armed teachers are likely to be totally ineffective against individual gang related gun violence as, though it occasionally happens at school, is usually over quickly and doesn't happen in the classroom. At best it seems we could hope to prevent a handful of murders a year (10 or are their way more school rampages than I know about). Even this benefit is uncertain as many school shooters are obviously undeterable, e.g., students with some sort of grudge/resentment particular to the school and willing to die to get revenge, and many of the murders will happen before a teacher can fetch a gun. Attackers like the one in the Amish school shooting are even more rare and can easily choose a school (as he did) that for religious, cultural or small size is unlikely to have armed teachers. Additionally even if there was a small deterant effect some of the violence would likely just be shifted elsewhere (daycare centers, chuck-E-cheese) and the aim of the exercise is to make children safe not merely to make schools safe. Given these considerations I think we can throw out the deterrent effect as totally useless and concentrate on whether teachers will be able to save more lives by taking out a shooter than allowing the guns into schools will cost.

But if the mere fear of a teacher carrying a gun isn't going to be effective then it really does matter how many teachers are actually carrying. Now if the number of armed teachers is very low they are unlikely to be very effective. Except for the Amish shooting (which will never have armed teachers) almost all these shootings took place in high schools which almost universally have an assigned police officer and a handful of armed teachers are likely to be no more effective. This isn't a movie and I don't think it's reasonable to expect the armed teacher to sprint across the building and roll rambo style through the door and take out the bad guys. Even if they were it this could cost lives when the bad guy was only holding hostages and is freaked out into shooting.

Basically it seems the only way this policy could be effective at saving lives is if the rampage shooter happens to run across an armed teacher who is actively carrying. So we can effectively assume a large number of teachers are going to be carrying weapons on their persons (locking them up wouldn't work and we don't want them leaving them around unlocked). If only a few teachers carry the harm will be reduced but the number of lives saved will be proportionally reduced as well.

Now with a large number of armed teachers walking around you only need a very low probability of an accident or one of them snapping for them to cause even more lives to be lost than lives that are saved. Your argument that parents would pull their students out of the classroom immediately if they thought their teacher would kill them is totally superfluous. Parents would pull their kids out of the classroom if they thought the teacher might be a child molester but we know it does happen. Of course the vast vast majority of teachers aren't going to do any such thing but given the low numbers of lives they will save a tiny percentage of bad apples can make this policy cost more lives than it saves.

Your argument that a determined person can get a gun somewhere else also doesn't really address the concern. Many shootings happen in anger at the spur of the moment but wouldn't happen in cold blood. We have a distinction between murder 1 and 2 precisely because there are way more people who will kill in a rage than who will cold bloodidly acquire a gun and kill someone. Also there is the possibility of accidental shootings. All it takes is for a forgetful teacher to leave his gun unlocked in his desk and a daring student to go show his friends the teacher's gun.

Yes all these events are pretty unlikely but remember we are trying to prevent an incredibly unlikely event, someone going crazy and rampaging through a school. Given the incredibly low number of expected lives saved I don't think it is plausible that this policy will save lives.

Heck, just spending the money on teacher gun training programs is likely to cost more lives than the program can save. If we went and spent that money on flu shots, anti-smoking programs or more relevantly on training teachers to listen when kids complain of harassment (why the Erik kid shot the principle) we could probably save even more lives. Ultimately government programs are matters of priority and there is no plausible argument that spending money on school rampages is even close to the most effective way to save lives, or even children's lives.

Basically people are just overreacting because school shootings are so emotional and make people feel unsafe leaving their kids in school. However, (right or wrong) many people will feel very uncomfortable putting their kids in school with armed teachers.
10.6.2006 11:15am
BruceM (mail):
Let me be blunt. My right to possess a firearm is worth a deadly school shooting and a couple of dead kids now and then. We've obviously entered the age where we measure rights and liberties by how many dead children will result. So let's just beat around the bush. My right to not have firearms (and I only own one gun--I'm not a gun nut by any means) is worth 200,000 dead children per year. For comparative purposes only, my liberty interest in driving a car is worth ten million dead children per year.
10.6.2006 11:16am
_Jon (mail) (www):
There have been a couple of comments that insinuate such a freedom - to carry or not - would become a requirement. I didn't read that into the author's post. I support the idea that a teacher could - if so desired by that teacher - take training and carry a weapon at their place of work.

I believe this is yet another reason why schooling should be privatized - all of it. The government should establish the goals and methods of education and companies should be certified to provide the education. The government doesn't build cars - it specifies their safety requirements. Similarly with schools, in my opinion. Given that, if a company wanted to setup a school where there were no guns and there were enough parents to send their children there, we would have a success.

We need the freedom and competition in education that we have in so many other areas of America.
10.6.2006 11:16am
Aultimer:
So we don't have resources to have police (or private armed security) in schools, but we have sufficient resources to "highly train" the willing, and you'd prefer a larger number of moderately trained teachers to a smaller number of police-level trained teachers.

The cost-benefit just doesn't add up. The negative consequences of a larger number of moderately trained teachers (accidents, students disarming teachers, stolen weapons) can't be outweighted by the benefit of stopping some portion of the 2-3(?) incidents per year we have now.
10.6.2006 11:17am
k parker (mail):
how media coverage of school shootings leads to more school shootings.... causing copycats
Dave, I too am concerned about media influence, but don't you think "cause" is overstating it? As it stands, it's too close to those who would excuse the perpetrators...

Miriam,

Sorry right back at ya! What's so specially magical about "learning environments" that makes them different from "shopping environments" or "home environments"?

And to sk and all the rest who think (err, or maybe I should say feel) that allowing teachers to carry guns puts students at risk from berserk teachers: you really think a teacher bent on assaulting a student with deadly force will desist because of a no-firearms rule? How come the no-assault rule itself doesn't have this beneficial effect?
10.6.2006 11:18am
JSinger (mail):
Why should ideas be silenced because some people will find them unpalatable?

Who is silencing anyone's ideas?

If David Kopel realizes that most gun moderates respond to this stuff by thinking he's a psycho, and he feels that the advantages of bringing it up anyway outweigh the damage it does to gun rights as a whole -- then, so be it. I'm bringing up the point because I get the impression that he and a lot of others *don't* realize how badly their enthusiasm for classroom shootouts comes across.
10.6.2006 11:20am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
scarhill,

To distill the relevant portion of my longer argument teachers bringing guns to school will increase the risk of a shooting because the gun will be right there in their pocket.

Unless you really think that everyone who commits murder 2 would really have committed murder 1 there are situations where someone will pull out a gun and shoot someone because it is right there but wouldn't if they had to bring a gun from home.

Also if a teacher thinks of himself as carrying a gun to protect students from rampage killers there is a much greater change of him overreacting and taking out some student he sees with a gun. It is an unfortunate fact that students bringing guns to school isn't that uncommon (I remember a kid showing me one in my cathlic suburban jr high) and all it takes is for the teacher to see the gun in someone's pocket and overreact. This could be corrected by training but as I argue above paying for training is actually going to cost more lives than it will save.

Most likely though is student on student violence happening when some teacher forgetfully leaves their gun somewhere or the students steal it.
10.6.2006 11:24am
SeaLawyer:
Too be honest I don't think very many teachers would carry a gun if allowed (like less then 1%). Making it mandatory would be a huge mistake.
10.6.2006 11:26am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
To put it as well as I can, I'd rather spend political currency to do a good if unpopular act that will save us currency later, than a bad but popular act that will cost us more later. Every school shooting - near every mass murder, in fact - is met with cries for gun control mere days after. If it takes us looking like wackos to get folks to actually pay attention to the Second, while reducing the number of meaningful school shootings, I'd consider that a success.

I still fail to see why letting teachers be armed is that painful. You all do realize the potential for damage everything else in a classroom has? Just one safe in a chem lab is enough to kill a lotta people. Hell, just the yardstick in every room could still do a lot of damage - but you don't see many reports of teachers beating kids to death with a yardstick.

As to the cost-benefit relationals, I suggest you all remember a few things. First of all, with a well-concealed firearm and decent training, 'accidents' and disarms should be effectively zero. Secondly, individuals who choose to get concealed carry permits tend to be less likely to commit a violent crime than either police or the public as a whole, so... not quite sure what you're expecting to happen.
10.6.2006 11:39am
CatoRenasci (mail):
As long as the standard of training, and perhaps psychological screening, were reasonably high, I can see valid reason not to allow armed teachers. All other things being equal, I think concealed carry is better than open carry (imagine Mrs. Grundy with her Glock, or Mr. Mitty with his pair of pearl handled Colt Single Action Army revolvers in quick-draw holsters) which could be distracting, but the sure knowledge that there were plenty of armed faculty would surely deter those thinking of a student attack, and might well improve student behavior in schools where they are now unruly. An armed society is a polite society. The thuggish 6'3" student who now intimidates the 4'11" teacher towering over her might well back off knowing she can shoot a 3" group at 25 yards with her lady-like .32 automatic.
10.6.2006 11:47am
sk (mail):
There is apparently a reading comprehension problem here.

From my first post:
"I'm also not claiming that armed teachers are more likely to be crazies."

I'll state my question as bare as possible.

I assume that teachers are exactly as likely to be crazies who want to kill kids as the rest of the population.

Thus, allowing teachers to be armed would yield the exact statistical likelihood of resulting in crazies killing kids as not allowing teachers to be armed (not more, not less)-because those armed teachers are just as likely to be crazies as armed non-teachers.

Crazy non-teachers will still kill kids occasionally. Crazy teachers will also kill kids occassionally.

Thus, allowing teachers to be armed will have no net benefit to reducing school shootings.

Why is this accurate or not accurate?

Sk
10.6.2006 11:55am
Tom Bri (mail):
Just a quibble. DK states that Thailand has a strong anti-gun sentiment. I certainly did not get that impression on a half-dozen visits there. Editorials in the local papers were written as if by the NRA, same arguments. Gun shops are fairly common, I spotted some while riding the city buses. Shooting ranges are advertised in the papers. Gun ownership is permitted, and by Asian standards very liberally.


[DK: Thanks for the info. I corrected my post accordingly. I had mistakenly assumed that the Thai government's statements at the U.N. were an accurate reflection of Thai culture.]
10.6.2006 11:59am
Schizo:
I live next to Pearl, Mississippi where Luke Woodham went on the first widely-publicized school-shooting rampage.

He was going back to his car for more ammunition after killing two girls and wounding seven other students.

He was taken down by an assistant principal, a National Guardsman, who had a rifle in the back of his truck left over from a weekend of training. He made Woodham lie down with his coat over his head and the teacher's rifle aimed squarely at his neck until the police came. Saved lives, this man did.

MS has laws barring guns on school property. The DA gave some thought to prosecuting this principal. Then the DA realized his was an elected position and to do so was electoral suicide.

Why do I tell you this story? I think school administrators (who are statistically more likely to be male) should step out of their cushy offices, get firearms training/permits/appropriate weapons, and be able to take out a lone gunman or a pair of juveniles working together and spare the teachers yet another awesome responsibility. It solves a lot of the problems of widespead numbers of adults packing heat and gives teachers time to concentrate on getting their children the hell out of the building.
10.6.2006 12:07pm
DensityDuck (mail):
As others have said: Unless you require every teacher to have a permit and to carry--and fire teachers who are denied permits--then your scenario is depending on the shooter to present himself in front of one of the minority of armed teachers, in such a manner that the teacher can kill him before he kills the teacher.

Also, let's look at this hypothetical case. Two large black students are yelling at each other, and one pushes the other. That one turns and stomps towards the door. Just as he gets to it, he halts and reaches into his bag. What is your response? Do you throw down and kill him? It will be awfully embarassing when it turns out that he was turning on his iPod. But hey, nobody went on a shooting rampage, and that's the important thing, right?
10.6.2006 12:10pm
Dick King:
One minor note ... the Amish teacher would be unlikely to have been armed.

-dk
10.6.2006 12:10pm
countertop (mail):

In "shall issue" carry permit states, we estimate that the average movie theater, which holds about 200 people, has somewhere between two and ten lawfully armed citizens sitting in the dark there with you, peaceably munching their popcorn, shushing their kids.


Geek,

While I would hope that one day your calculation was correct, I just don't think there are that many CCW holders who activly carry all the time. I could be wrong, but then, there is no way to really know just who is carrying . . . which is the point afterall.
10.6.2006 12:15pm
JosephSlater (mail):
JSinger has the right political analysis.

I would only add that Bush's Secretary of Education has referred to the country's largest union of teachers as a "terrorist" organization. While union-backers such as myself consider that a low point in American poltical discourse, since this is generally a conservative blog site, I can only conclude that

POSTERS AND COMMENTERS HERE SUPPORT ARMING TERRORISTS!
10.6.2006 12:23pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
sk: It's inaccurate because your math only works if you assume that teacher "crazies" who are likely to kill kids will not do so if there's a rule against them carrying a gun in school, and will do so if they're allowed to carry legally. Actually, I'm pretty sure your math still doesn't work, but if you can defend that first point, it would get you a lot further.
10.6.2006 12:29pm
Random3 (mail):
SK - it is not accurate, because of A) the deterant effect of having non-crazy teachers be armed, and B) the ability of those armed teachers to prevent or mitigate a bloodbath if the psycho is not deterred. As has been repeatedly pointed out - a person determined to go on a killing spree can already bring a gun to school, with no possibility of coming up against equal force. But county crime statistics repeatedly show that counties with permissive (shall-issue) carry permit laws suffer lower rates of violent crime. That is a powerful fact that needs to be weighed in any debate on this subject.

The only arguments I have heard yet that speak in favor of not arming teachers are the increased possibility of accidental shootings, and the increased possibility of rage-induced shootings (i.e., teacher shoots classroom thug or bully). That is a debate we should be willing to have.
10.6.2006 12:30pm
bearing (mail) (www):
I support Dave Kopel's position, and want to point out:

(1) Often, the benefit of having a population of carriers of concealed weapons extends beyond the scenario of an armed assailant actually being confronted by a bystander or intended victim who fortuitously happens to be armed. This is good, because in many situations, perhaps most, no bystanders will be armed. The extra benefit of deterrence comes from the assailant's ignorance of WHO might be armed.

This is why we're all safer in our own homes in the U.S. than the poor folks in the U.K., even the people who don't keep a weapon in the house.

(2) The deterrence factor mostly disappears, however, in the case of suicidal assailants. I don't know the numbers, but a significant proportion of the school shooters (at least of children) seem to be suicidal.

(3) So this leaves just the chances that an armed bystander would be able to cut short an attack by killing or incapacitating such an assailant.

(4) Attacks are unlikely to be increased by the presence of concealed weapons in a school (especially if teachers carry them only on their bodies). The incidence of accidental discharges of weapons probably will increase, but by how much?

(5) It's not just students we're protecting, but school employees. Imagine a female teacher who's just taken out a restraining order against an abusive ex-boyfriend and has been carrying a weapon to protect herself. Ought she be made to not only surrender that weapon at work, but to have that fact *known* to everyone ("THIS SCHOOL IS A GUN-FREE ZONE")? Very few workplaces need to be "gun-free" for some safety reason (e.g., flammable environment, presence of pressurized tanks, etc.).
10.6.2006 12:32pm
BrianDunbar (mail) (www):
"But the police are highly trained."

The Police ARE highly trained but not always highly trained in something like CQB (close quarters battle) i.e. shooting someone across the room. Sometimes they barely know how to discharge their weapon.

I did have a friend who was a former Fort Worth, Texas police officer. His first night on patrol he drew his gun and the guy gave up. Which is a good thing - he found out two weeks later his issue weapon didn't work.

It never occured to him - nor his instructors - that running a function check on your service weapon is a good thing. He was a good police officer just not hip on weapons use.

Guys - this wasn't Sleepyville Texas but a major metro police department in the midst of the 80s crack epidemic. If THEY weren't hip on weapons use, who is?
10.6.2006 12:42pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Bearing, school shooters are largely in it for the publicity. Being killed after one shot usually isn't great publicity. If they just wanted to kill someone or some people, thermite is cheaper and much, much more effective than a firearm.
10.6.2006 12:43pm
submandave (mail) (www):
"Why don't you think teachers are just as likley to be crazy killers as the rest of the population?"

And if a teacher was a "crazy killer" why would he wait bring a weapon into school only after he was authorized? This is just another flavor of the "evil gun turns weak person into a blind killer" argument.

"So we don't have resources to have police (or private armed security) in schools, but we have sufficient resources to 'highly train' the willing"

Ask any professional firearms trainer, it is much easier to train someone in effective combat pistol techniques than in the intricacies of law enforcement, restraint, detention, etc. Once a shooting incident begins the faster you get a "good guy" who is trained and capable of responding with force on the scene the fewer total injuries you have.

The only personal experience I have with a school shooting happened at my Junior High in the late '70s. A red neck parent got irate with the Vice Principal that his son was being disciplined by a "nigger" and threatened to get his shotgun from the truck and "teach him a lesson." As he left to follow through on his promise Mr. Blount took his revolver from the desk and shot him once in the leg. While the argument can be made that Mr. Blount used excessive force it cannot be denied that Mr. Blount also prevented this man from bringing a weapon into the school, leading to possibly greater gunplay and unintended injuries to other students and staff. On the otherhand, if Mr. Blount did not have a weapon available there is no doubt the man could have retrieved his shotgun and returned to the school long before any police response was available.
10.6.2006 12:44pm
therut:
Countertop-----------See the thing is you do not know. That is how CCW works. I know when I go with my family there are 2 people there armed. I know but you do not. I think there are more people who carry firearms WITHOUT a permit than those who have a permit. Many citizens do not realize they even have to have a permit. There is no widespread knowledge of all the gun laws. Alot of people even if they knew would ignore them because most are new laws and they have carried their whole lives without anyone knowing from the .gov.
10.6.2006 12:47pm
Captain Holly (mail):
Kevin P. and Bruce Hayden are quite correct in their descriptions of Utah. Which brings up the question: If Utahns are so heavily armed, and teachers are allowed to carry in schools there already (and have been legally permitted to do so since 1995), why haven't there been any school massacres in Utah yet?

There are some 75,000 Utah CCW permittees, about 60,000 of which are Utah residents, or about 3% of all adults. I've heard many anecdotes about teachers and staff of Utah public schools who discreetly arm themselves before going to work. I myself sometimes carried a concealed weapon when I worked at the University of Utah (legally according to Utah State law but against University policy at the time). I never told anyone there about it at the time.

I'd be willing to bet there are already hundreds of teachers, counselors, and principals who carry in public schools throughout the state every day. While it may not be valid to assert that this is the reason there have been no shootings, it certainly does suggest that allowing teachers to carry guns will not automatically result in dead students mistakenly shot by overzealous teachers.
10.6.2006 1:08pm
Bill Marcy (mail):
Why do shootings happen in schools? Why not in police stations, or gun stores? Why is the NRA building never shot up? It would seem pretty obvious to me, that is where you have a large concentration of unarmed victims, waiting for the slaughter. If I am looking to kill a bunch of people, I want no resistance. Killing school children also adds an emotinal edge to my "Blaze of Glory" that shooting up, say, a grocery store would lack.

In the end, a person bent on mass murder goes to where the low hanging fruit are, schools. And they will continue going there, killing our children as long as people 'feel' about the issue, as opposed to thinking about the issue.
10.6.2006 1:13pm
dejapooh (mail):
Just think what this would do for basic classroom discipline. As a classroom teacher with extensive experience in South Central Los Angeles (including 2 years in watts), I can tell you that putting the extra burden on teachers to Police their campuses will add to the already high levels of stress many teachers live with. This will have several results. You will have accidental shootings. You will have Mad Teachers. You also need to remember that when you add to the responsibilities and stress levels of teachers, you are going to increase the number of people who become Ex-Teachers. I doubt there is another profession out there where nearly 50% of those who spend 12 to 24 months being trained after their degree, leave the within the first 5 years.
10.6.2006 1:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"But the police are highly trained."

A certain Krav Maga instructor at the Los Angeles Center regularly trains police and military personnel. He says the LA police he encounters are frequently poor marksman. Perhaps they don't practice enough because of a limited budget for ammunition. I really don't know. But it's obviously a mistake to think that the police are necessarily proficient with their firearms.
10.6.2006 2:18pm
whit:
In my state, schools are a gun free zone (lol). What that means is that it is illegal for civilians to carry on campuses. I know several who (having permits) lock their guns in their cars before going in. This is stupid. The law abiding are disarmed, but any criminal intent on committing a crime against children/teachers in a school with a gun is practically guaranteed an environment where nobody will shoot back.

That's absurd.

As a law enforcement officer, I am exempt from the law. I can carry on campus. However, I would strongly support elmination of the gun free school zone laws. All it does is protect the criminals intent on harming somebody.

Yea, it's true that school shooting are very rare. It is true that kids are more likely to die driving to/from high school, than in school.

The absurdity of the gun free school zones is best exemplified by the sign under the "guns prohibited" sign at a local high school...

it says

"criminal activity prohibited"

oh... well... i am sure that since criminal activity is PROHIBITED, that sign will solve the problem.

Whomever designed that sign has a broken irony detecter.
10.6.2006 2:33pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Alright a lot of this discussion is just getting silly.

First of all the reasons shootings happen in schools and not elsewhere isn't because schools are so undefended. Most shootings seem to happen in highschools most of which have a stationed police officer who is armed, unlike say the local walgreens or the preschool. The reason shootings happen in schools is because that is where the provocation and stress happens. Except for the Amish incident almost all school shooters are students who have some chip on their shoulder relating to the school. As semi-suicidal attackers they are the worst possible canidate for deterence. I agree deterence is an important issue about gun ownership generally but not in this context. Also if the deterence theory being presented is true and school shooters choose their target because it is undefended then arming teachers would just make them go shoot kids somewhere else and not really save lives.

Similarly the argument that teachers are equally likely to go on a rampage hence this won't save lives is similarlly flawed. Teachers just don't have the same stresses as the adolescent students who are the usual shooters. As for external attackers the argument that teachers are just as likely to snap and hence can't save lives is just wrong (I think on net they won't but not for this reason). The external attackers aren't choosen at random but decide to come to the school with a gun and if teachers were going to snap they could do the same regardless of any no gun rule.

However, the most ridiculous argument I have been hearing is that banning guns in schools couldn't save lives because anyone who wanted to do bad could just ignore the rule. Obviously such a rule won't deter a suicidal rampage. However, not all murders are premeditated. Also asking perfectly law-abiding teachers to leave their guns at home will prevent accidents or students from stealing/playing with it.

As someone above pointed out there is a serious danger of overzealous enforcement by armed teachers. Yes, in some states teachers can carry but there is every difference in the world between happening to carry and be at school and being armed by law to stop school shootings. Mixing law enforcement and teaching responsibilities is a very bad idea. When talking angrily to a police officer everyone knows to avoid reaching into their pocket to pull out their gun shaped cigarette lighter but the same isn't true about teachers.

Also the idea that this would be good to protect teachers from intimidating students is quite troubling. It suggests teachers might be drawing guns on students when the student is just yelling angrily (if you wait till they start hitting you it is too late) and that has a serious possibility of escalating a situation or accidently shooting someone.

Finally banning guns at school isn't some attack on personal gun ownership of the second ammendment. The government takes away your guns when you enter a courtroom or when you go into the whitehouse because they know these are particularly dangerous places for citizens to be carrying arms. Similarly a school is filled with troubled teens who might steal a gun on a lark justifying keeping guns out. Both of these are perfectly compatible with a general right to carry law.

However, despite my general opposition I would be willing to support a law letting the principal or some other (one or two) school officers keep a gun in a quick unlock safe in their office for those schools without armed officers. This avoids all the dangers of having teachers carrying in the classroom and overzealous response but makes sure there is some armed response on campus.
10.6.2006 3:13pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
What I originally wanted to say was this:

I find this tendency to respond to incidents like this by demanding that something must be done to be very troubling. Some level of violence is unavoidable and this notion that the government needs to do something about it, often with massive training programs leeds to more harm and all sorts of waste.

The first question we should ask is whether this is a problem that deserves the government's attention and in this case the answer is clearly no, the numbers just aren't large enough.
10.6.2006 3:17pm
whit:
" Most shootings seem to happen in highschools most of which have a stationed police officer who is armed,"

do u have a cite for this? that MOST high schools have a stationed armed police officer?
10.6.2006 3:20pm
john w. (mail):
It seems to me that Dave K. is making his proposal unnecessarily complicated. Why invent a new type of CHL just for teachers? If your State is already a "shall-issue" State, then all the Legislature needs to do is just to delete the work "schools" from the list of prohibited places. In other words: Let all States follow Utah's example.

That ought to be more palatable politically also, because it just involves making a modification to an existing law rather than setting up something totally new.
10.6.2006 3:21pm
whit:
"Finally banning guns at school isn't some attack on personal gun ownership of the second ammendment. The government takes away your guns when you enter a courtroom or when you go into the whitehouse because they know these are particularly dangerous places for citizens to be carrying arms. Similarly a school is filled with troubled teens who might steal a gun on a lark justifying keeping guns out. Both of these are perfectly compatible with a general right to carry law. "

the situations are not analogous at all. both courtrooms and the whitehouse are controlled environment where EVERYBODY is checked for guns before entering

that is NOT true for high schools. so, in the latter case the only people that happen to be armed are cops (on or off duty) or CRIMINALS.

not law abiding citizens

completely bogus analogy for reason mentioned
10.6.2006 3:22pm
azlibertarian (mail) (www):
There are a couple of red herrings floating about here.
...the "crazy teacher" herring...

In most states, teachers already go through background checks and have their fingerprints on file.
...the "highly trained" herring...

Nobody is suggesting that teachers maintain currency on how to do legal searches, how to arrest someone, do a PIT maneuver or any of the other thousand things a police officer does. The only currency required of an armed teacher would be proficiency with their weapon. The model here is the airline pilots who are armed.
...the "poor teaching environment" herring...
Again, I go back to the airline pilot example. Do passengers think they're getting a lesser pilot because he might be armed?
10.6.2006 3:42pm
SeaLawyer:
While I am a strong 2nd amendment guy, I just don't think arming teachers would do any good for a great many reasons. 99.9% of teachers are not going to carry firearms. A teacher in a school setting can easily have the weapon taken from them in a matter of seconds, even if it is on their body. That's just to name a few reasons.

What can make a real difference is putting police officers in the schools. You can also put the school on police patrol routes have them get out and walk the halls a certain # of times throughout the day.
10.6.2006 3:52pm
SeaLawyer:

The only currency required of an armed teacher would be proficiency with their weapon.


Exactly what type of proficiency? Being able to hit a paper target? Safe handling of the weapon?
10.6.2006 3:54pm
JosephSlater (mail):
For the second time in a week or so, I'll say that I think LogicNazi has it exactly right. Maybe if we can't get Orin to go back to his solo blog, we can encourage LogicNazi to start one.

Anyway, while I don't have a survey handy, I do have some experience with public school teachers, and I would bet a chunk of change that the overwhelming majority of them do NOT want to carry guns at school. If my supposition on this point is true, does that matter?
10.6.2006 3:58pm
whit:
the issue is not "arming teachers".

it is getting rid of the stupid "gun free school zone" laws that PREVENT them from being armed - ditto school administrators, etc.

i have seen no reason to prohibit defensive carry ON campus vs. off campus.

so, it should not be a matter of arming teachers, but of merely removing a (dumb) law that disarms them

and disarms law abiding private citizens as well
10.6.2006 3:59pm
whit:
"Anyway, while I don't have a survey handy, I do have some experience with public school teachers, and I would bet a chunk of change that the overwhelming majority of them do NOT want to carry guns at school. If my supposition on this point is true, does that matter?"

yes. whether or not some (or most) WANT to be armed is irrelevant. the point is removing the laws that DISARM the ones who would carry. these laws disarm law abiding citizens. i don't think we should require tecahers to be armed. i am saying we should not prohibit them (or any lawfully carrying private citizen) on campus.

i see no rationale for doing so, and lots of good reasons why disarming otherwise law abiding firearms carriers on campus is a bad idea
10.6.2006 4:02pm
gaussling:
The suggestion by Mr. Kopel that we arm teachers and administrators only serves to prove that he does not know many teachers and his grasp of statistics is lacking. By nature, teachers as a group would be unenthusiastic about packing a sidearm in their classroom. The image of an elementary school teacher on playground duty with an Uzi casually slung over her shoulder should bring no comfort. It should be alarming. Given the rampant bad behaviour by American students in general, the notion of having a firearm in the classroom that a kid could steal would be more worrisome. In fact, approximately zero faculty have ever had to deal with armed intruders in their classroom. The rate of armed conflicts per operating school hour is, to a reasonable approximation, zero. The recent events in Baily and Lancaster county are spurious events that in no way suggest a trend of mass killings. We'll save many more lives if we get people to wear their seat belts, not smoke, or have colonoscopy. Gun enthsusiasts always trot out their well manicured and specious arguments about how much safer we'd all be if we all packed a piece. Home-grown school terrorism is fed by the idea that conflict can and should be resolved with a violent act. That is the cancer. We even have an entire movie industry that is geared toward the accurate portrayal of conflict resolution by gun violence. Guns allow you to cleanly and conveniently commit violence from a distance. That is just physics. Arming teachers could cause school terrorists to do their work from across the street. Or perhaps they would mimic the Unibomber and use mail-bombs instead. Arming teachers does not prevent the sickness of the school terrorist- they'll find another way to cause harm. I would invite Mr. Kopel to sharpen his pencil and come up with a better idea.
10.6.2006 4:02pm
markm (mail):
sk: As for the possibility of a teacher just snapping and killing a student on the spot, a gun isn't the only way to do that. How often does a teacher beat some kid bloody with bare hands or other handy objects (furniture, briefcases, heavy books)? I've never heard of it.

Armed teachers and other school staff, carrying concealed, are a more effective defense than police officers because a school shooter wouldn't know where they were. Shooters can find out where police officers are likely to be and plan ahead to take them by surprise, but with a concealed weapon a teacher would be likely to have the advantage of surprise.

Nor is the average cop really trained for gun fighting. Most departments only require (or pay for) qualifying with the weapon once a year, with 50 to 100 shots fired, and that's far below what most people need to be proficient. Aside from the few who get SWAT-style training, if they're good at shooting, they practiced on their own. Nor is the Chief going to assign his more gun-proficient men to school patrol, he needs them on the street.

There need to be some sensible rules, of course. First off, any staff member who brings a gun into the school should have a concealed carry license, which requires a little training and a thorough background check. The rate of misuse of guns by license-holders is very low, demonstrating that the licensing process works fairly well at screening out irresponsible and incompetent gun users. Finally, the guns must always stay on the person of the license holder - not in purses, not in desks, but always under the clothes. That makes it pretty hard for kids to grab them.
10.6.2006 4:28pm
Clark ghitis (mail) (www):
A school in Burleson, TX is trying the flight 93 approach &instructing the kids &teachers to throw everything you got at an attacker in the hopes of overwhelming him.
"All 600 teachers in the Burleson ISD have been trained for Critical Incident Response and the district just received a $95,000 federal grant to train all of the students as well." http://cbs11tv.com/topstories/local_story_278215806.html
10.6.2006 5:13pm
Dan Hamilton:
Cops in schools don't help at all. They didn't at Columbine. They are trained to wait for SWAT. Which the police did at Columbine. Waited outside while students died. So much for police helping at school shootings.

Sure MOST teachers a LIBs who would panic at the site of a pistol. That is why they are concealed.

We are not talking about any gaurantees here. Allowing Concealed Carry by Liecened people just means that there is more of a chance that the )(*)@(*^@_*@^%A)^$@HOLE Shooter is stopped before he can shoot a lot of people.

A chance is better then we have now. The _))!(@^#% Shooter kills as many as he wants. Nobody to stop him. Like sheep to the slaughter. Wouldn't it be nice to have some sheep dogs around.

Isn't that CHANCE worth pissing off the LIBs? Sorry, pissing of the LIBs is just an added bonus.

Isn't that CHANCE worth pissing off the Teachers Unions? Sorry, I forgot Teachers Union = LIBs.

Isn't that CHANCE worth it?
10.6.2006 5:43pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Wow, I write a parody of the tensions between the proposals floated here by conservatives and the general conservative irrational hatred of teachers unions, and Dan Hamilton exceeds it in what I take to be an attempt at a serious post.
10.6.2006 5:59pm
Kevin P. (mail):

The suggestion by Mr. Kopel that we arm teachers and administrators only serves to prove that he does not know many teachers and his grasp of statistics is lacking. By nature, teachers as a group would be unenthusiastic about packing a sidearm in their classroom. The image of an elementary school teacher on playground duty with an Uzi casually slung over her shoulder should bring no comfort.

LOL. Nothing like the obligatory Uzi over the shoulder to liven up the discussion about CONCEALED weapons.
10.6.2006 6:00pm
Kevin P. (mail):
JSinger:

If David Kopel realizes that most gun moderates respond to this stuff by thinking he's a psycho...

David Kopel and others in this comment thread have made reasoned arguments about why it would be beneficial to allow teachers to be armed in schools.

You respond by ignoring the argument and dismissing David Kopel as a psycho.

That says more about you than about the topic.
10.6.2006 6:03pm
Sk (mail):
"I live next to Pearl, Mississippi where Luke Woodham went on the first widely-publicized school-shooting rampage.

He was going back to his car for more ammunition after killing two girls and wounding seven other students.

He was taken down by an assistant principal, a National Guardsman, who had a rifle in the back of his truck left over from a weekend of training."

When did this incident happen?

Today, if a National Guardsman carries a military weapon in a POV, he would probably be arrested (most certainly reprimanded). Its absolutely forbidden (if I drive two miles from a drill hall to a firing range to fire the military weapon, I'm not allowed to carry that weapon in my private vehicle-the weapon will be transported via military vehicles). And it is not allowed to bring personal weapons to National Guard training. Don't know the rules pre-political correctness, though.

Sk
10.6.2006 6:10pm
bearing (mail) (www):
By nature, teachers as a group would be unenthusiastic about packing a sidearm in their classroom.

Nice stereotyping, dude. And you forgot about the other adults in the school: the coaches, the administrators, the janitors, the counselors. A janitor and a principal helped take down that kid in Wisconsin before he killed anyone else.

Even if most school staff won't carry --- and I doubt the number is as high as the "99.9%" *cough* "cited" above ---All that deterrence requires is for a potential assailant to realize that someone in the school very well *might* be armed, and he doesn't know who.
10.6.2006 6:15pm
SeaLawyer:

Armed teachers and other school staff, carrying concealed, are a more effective defense than police officers because a school shooter wouldn't know where they were. Shooters can find out where police officers are likely to be and plan ahead to take them by surprise, but with a concealed weapon a teacher would be likely to have the advantage of surprise.



Sorry that is just wrong. First of every single student will know in a short amount of time what teachers carry concealed weapons and where they carry them. Also a lot of people think that Police Officers are not trained enough to handle the threat. If that is true then what makes you think a teacher will have the correct training and maintain their skills?

I am completely in favor of conceal and carry laws, but having armed teachers will not stop or prevent school shootings.
10.6.2006 6:22pm
SeaLawyer:

Generally speaking, I have heard very few serious arguments against an armed teachers policy (for the minority of teachers who would want to carry, and would undertake the serious training which many thousands of certified firearms instructors would gladly provide for free).


There are very few certified firearm instructors that can teach you more then how to shoot at the range.
10.6.2006 6:28pm
SeaLawyer:

All that deterrence requires is for a potential assailant to realize that someone in the school very well *might* be armed, and he doesn't know who.


In these cases there is no deterrence. We are not talking about rational people here.
10.6.2006 6:31pm
SeaLawyer:

yes. whether or not some (or most) WANT to be armed is irrelevant. the point is removing the laws that DISARM the ones who would carry. these laws disarm law abiding citizens. i don't think we should require tecahers to be armed. i am saying we should not prohibit them (or any lawfully carrying private citizen) on campus


I am not opposed to teachers carrying. I am just saying they are not going to be able to stop, or deter these things from happening.
10.6.2006 6:57pm
Kevin P. (mail):
sealawyer:

First of every single student will know in a short amount of time what teachers carry concealed weapons and where they carry them

How?
10.6.2006 7:08pm
BrianDunbar (mail) (www):
The image of an elementary school teacher on playground duty with an Uzi casually slung over her shoulder should bring no comfort.

Curious - it would bring me a great deal of comfort. But I don't see carrying a weapon as much different than carrying a tool. More - casually carrying an Uzi would indicate a degree of competance that I like to see at school.

Doesn't mean they are a good teacher, but it does indicate they're good at at least one thing - handling a weapon and hitting a target - that many people are not.

But I'm a former Marine - I'm funny that way.
10.6.2006 7:08pm
whit:
"Cops in schools don't help at all. They didn't at Columbine. They are trained to wait for SWAT. Which the police did at Columbine. Waited outside while students died. So much for police helping at school shootings"

In the postmodern age of policing, this is (was) sadly - true. Whereas in the past, REAL cops woulda said "a couple of kids shooting up the school? Let's go get them!", too many of today's cops have been overtrained on civil liability, waiting for backup, officer safety, etc. and not on the primary job of cops - which is to protect people that need help.

That was (imo) the saddest, most pathetic day in law enforcement in memory. However, since that incident, many agencies (including my own) now train ASAP style training which basically says what all cops should have known at columbine - you are a cop, not a social worker. Sometimes that means wading into a risky situation and taking the bad guy down. Can't wait for SWAT. SWAT is for (generally) contained situations, not for when kids are being gunned down - in that case - you GO in.

Columbine was a disgusting example of institutionalized police cowardice.
10.6.2006 7:16pm
whit:
"I am completely in favor of conceal and carry laws, but having armed teachers will not stop or prevent school shootings"

nobody and nothing will stop or prevent all school shootings. allowing teachers (and civilians) to be armed on campus would definitely REDUCE school shootings and/or be more likely to stop them after one or two kids was shot vs. a shooter being able to walk through a crowd of 100% unarmed students and KNOWING that none of them are armed, and just plinking off kids one by one

That is the difference.
10.6.2006 7:20pm
gab (mail):
I prefer Kopel's first method of stopping school shootings, i.e.


completely prohibit firearms, and confiscate the entire existing supply of more than 200 million firearms.
10.6.2006 8:00pm
comatus (mail):
"The only currency required of an armed teacher would be proficiency with their weapon."--Probably funnier than you meant it to be, since most of them are successfully resisting the idea that they need to be proficient in the subject they teach.

Mark M., I saw students beaten bloody in the third grade, tenth grade and eleventh grade, all in a lily-white semi-rural district that won numerous awards. The very best public school teachers are, no doubt, motivated by the highest ideals. But teaching and police work draw some sick f**ks, also. In fact, these professions are tailor-made for them. A thug with a Master's and a permission slip from the State is still a thug.

"We" aren't going to arm anyone, and they aren't "our" schools. There is something wrong with taking everyone of the same age group from a whole town and locking them up together, at each other's mercy and that of whoever passed a committee interview. It's cuckoo's-nest concept, a target-rich environment for murderers and molesters, and the denizens have fewer rights than felons.
10.6.2006 8:03pm
SeaLawyer:
KevinP,
Simple observation skills. Once one student knows they all do.
10.6.2006 8:14pm
SeaLawyer:

nobody and nothing will stop or prevent all school shootings.


I agree on that.


allowing teachers (and civilians) to be armed on campus would definitely REDUCE school shootings and/or be more likely to stop them after one or two kids was shot vs. a shooter being able to walk through a crowd of 100% unarmed students and KNOWING that none of them are armed, and just plinking off kids one by one


The remote possibility of someone on a school campus being able to stop a student from shooting up the school is not going deter anyone. For true deterrence you need to show visible and real capabilities. That is anti-terrorism 101.
Armed teachers could and maybe should be a part of the total plan, but by itself is not a solution. I mean a student or outsider can barricade themselves in a classroom with 20 plus students in 2 minutes and frumpy 60 year old Mrs. Smith is not going to stop them.
10.6.2006 8:37pm
Kevin P. (mail):
SeaLawyer,

How does the first student come to know? Have you actually carried a concealed pistol yourself?
10.6.2006 8:58pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The remote possibility of someone on a school campus being able to stop a student from shooting up the school is not going deter anyone. For true deterrence you need to show visible and real capabilities. That is anti-terrorism 101.
Maybe you should have gone on to the 200-level class, and learned a little more strategy. Visible defenses deter the lowest-caliber perpetrator, but for any thinking perpetrator, making the defenses visible simply allow him to plan ahead. But if he doesn't know what the defenses are, then he can't plan how to defeat or evade them.
10.7.2006 12:06am
whit:
"The remote possibility of someone on a school campus being able to stop a student from shooting up the school is not going deter anyone."

Let's define some terms. I am speaking of specific, not general deterrence. Iow, once the guy has started shooting, or threatening it, somebody with a gun can stop him. Without a gun, they usually can't, and don't

School shootings, in general, are remote - iow, exceedingly rare. Even WITH the firearms ban on campus, there HAVE been instances of students with guns stopped by others with guns - both cops and civilians.

I am not claiming that this is a solution. I am simply claiming that our current "solution" - which is criminalizing everybody except law enforcement agents from even HAVING a gun on campus exacerbates the problem.

Because it creates a zone where criminals can keep plinking away without being interrupted by anybody who can shoot back.

Guns on campus are not the problem. It was not too long ago that tons of kids in rural areas drove their pickup trucks to schools with rifles inside. High schools had rifle teams.

School shootings are thankfully exceedingly rare. They are big media, but they are not a big risk to students. However, INCREASING the risk by forcing all law abiding firearms permit holders to disarm is an anti-solution.
10.7.2006 6:51pm
J.R. Wenger (mail):
Y'all remember the middle-eastern man from Florida who shot up all the tourists at the top of Empire State Building a few years ago? What was true then is true about ALL mass shootings: The first victim died because the shooter was armed; the rest died because ONLY the shooter was armed.

By keeping schools as gun-free zones, you guarantee that there is absolutely NO CHANCE that anyone on-site can intervene in a mass shooting. (Like the lottery, you can't win if you don't play.)

My home state of Illinois is a victim disarmament zone border to border. A few years ago some critters robbed a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine (a suburb of Chicago), culminating in the murder of the customers and staff in the walk-in cooler. A similar robbery at a restaurant in Georgia, ending in the customers being herded into the walk-in cooler like in the Brown's Chicken, was foiled by a CCW permit holder, who wounded at least one of the critters. None of the customers or staff was harmed.

I think that the argument over arming teachers boils down to no chance vs. some chance. I prefer some chance, thank you.
10.8.2006 12:49am
Raj (mail) (www):
I think JSinger raised a valid point, in that, the timing for the discussion of arming the teachers, may not be now, but AFTER a cool-off period. I don't think he was calling Dave Kopel a psycho but merely observing a fact that the anti-gun perspectives are likely to turn into hysterics arising from the unwarranted, projected, glamorization of guns ("teachers walking around with uzis" "teachers shooting kids" etc). I don't think most arming-teachers-is-lunacy types - not all, obviously - are considering more practical approaches -CCW of a voluntary nature with small caliber, concealed defensive weapons and this too , ONLY with proper TRAINING.

Its a worthwhile observation;maybe this needs to be discussed when the focus of the headlines turn to something else, and this can be sensibly deliberated upon, instead of engaging in insults/hysteria and the resulting personal sense of slights hardening existing prejudices into even more intractable opinions, on both sides.

A genuinely concerned family man/woman would hardly be amused by another adult terming him/her a "lunatic" etc ;) As one grows into adulthood, one should realize the UTTER futility of such an approach to influence people's opinions. (Shouldn't one? ;))
10.8.2006 9:00pm
countertop (mail):
SK

re: the National Guard, each unit is controlled by the state and the rules vary from state to state. I don't know where you live, but I expect - for example - the rules on weapons possession would be vastly different in the People Republic of New Jersey (from which I gladly escaped a number of years ago) than in Mississippi.

FWIW - the shooting happened in 1997. Dave Kopel has a great write up on it here.
10.9.2006 11:04am
GMC70:
Kevin P; Sealawyer

Having been a public school teacher (12 years, in a previous, pre-law school life), make no mistake about it; fairly quickly, students will know which teachers are packing. One student will see the grip of a gun protrude out from under a jacket, or out of a purse, etc., and as was noted, once one student knows, they all will know.

That said, I agree that giving our teachers a fighting chance is a better policy than standing aside and meekly being slaughtered. It won't stop all shootings. And the policy carries additional risks (i.e. weapons security will have to be emphasized even more than usual); to prevent that carry weapon from becoming an offensive weapons itself. But it's worth a try; I have yet to see a realistic alternative offered.

And I'm new here; first post. Hope to become a more regular poster.
10.9.2006 11:30am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
The description of Israeli school policy is not accurate, at least as far as 1998-2001, when my children attended one.

All schools in Israel have armed guards.

All field trips had a parent (who would be a reservist) as an armed escort.

I saw no evidence of armed teachers. Every teacher at the local elementary school was a woman (the only two men employed there were one gym teacher and the janitor) and even supposing that there were a gun in a purse or desk, they certainly were not carrying a weapon. (Indeed, the young teachers tended not to be wearing much at all!)
10.9.2006 5:33pm
Daivd Andersen (mail):
It would certainly be nice if everyone had the economic choice to send their children to whatever school they believe deals with this issue - and many others - best. What is particularly offensive is that we live in a nation where so much education policy is mandated and most of us don't have genuine freedom to chose without non-trivial economic burden.

This shouldn't even be a debate. Schools should be free to choose how they defend against armed intruders and parents should be free to choose the schools.
10.9.2006 9:22pm