Monday, September 17, 2007

Armed School Teachers

This is not a proud situation for America--but with the number of massacres, sometimes by mentally ill students, sometimes by mentally ill outsiders, and with the horrifying example of the Beslan Massacre by an al-Qaeda farm club, I think it is entirely appropriate that teachers have the option of being able to defend themselves and their students. What surprises me about this news story is the number of principals in Michigan who agree. From the September 12, 2007 Grand Rapids Press:
GRAND RAPIDS -- Should teachers and principals be allowed to carry guns on the job?
Response to that question surprised James Ballard, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, when he sent an e-mail survey to the state's high school and middle school principals.
One-third of those who responded leaned toward armed schools.
"It did surprise me it was that high," Ballard said Tuesday. "Some feel strongly they should be able to carry a concealed weapon.
"There are some, just as in any population, that feel carrying a weapon produces more safety."
Ballard conducted the unscientific survey of his nearly 2,000 association members Monday after learning about legislation pending in the state House.
State Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville, introduced the legislation this month, saying guns could avert repeats of massacres such as at Columbine High School in Colorado and Virginia Tech. He was supported by 15 Republican representatives.
The bill would let teachers, administrators or other school employees carry concealed weapons on school grounds if they have a state permit and permission from their school.
The school could require special weapons training.
I won't argue with the special weapons training requirement. If a teacher is going to be armed as part of protecting the students, that's a bit higher standard of care than if she is armed to protect herself. The school is opening itself up to some risk by so doing, and if they want to make sure that the teacher is higher trained than the Michigan concealed carry statute requires, I can't argue the point too strongly.
Agema said he considers the bill "disaster-preparedness." Instead of teachers carrying concealed guns, he envisions a few, hand-picked and trained teachers with access to guns in locked safes.
The legislation was quickly criticized by local school administrators, including Grand Rapids Superintendent Bernard Taylor and school security chiefs, who said armed teachers and principals would make schools more dangerous.
Michigan Education Association Director Doug Pratt said he was "appalled that a bill like this would even come up."
The MEA, which represents 160,000 public school employees, has "always stood for weapons-free schools to keep our students safe," he said.
Of course! Why, if we have weapons-free schools, no student or outsider will come on campus and start killing people! We have laws, policies, and procedures for that!

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