This week, there has been a lot of talk about gun control, armed security at schools, the ability for teachers and students to carry concealed weapons in order to protect America’s students, and plenty of passionate arguments from both sides. We’re certainly no strangers to the debate. Just a week before the shooting at UCC, I published an article highlighting one Utah teacher’s motivation to carry after Sandy Hook and her determination to do whatever it takes to keep herself and her students safe.
It’s a sensitive subject, to say the least, but it’s one we must tackle head on if we expect to transform the landscape of self defense. That involves looking at the hard facts of the problem we’re trying to fix.
Given the choice of committing a heinous crime on defenseless victims or armed individuals not willing to become victims, which do you think criminals would choose?
60% of convicted felons admitted they avoided committing crimes when they knew their potential victim was armed. 40% of convicted felons admitted they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed. So criminals are not only undeterred by gun-free zones, they actively seek them out and knowingly capitalize on them to ensure their attack go unchallenged.
Consider this: When James Holmes planned out his attack on movie goers attending the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Returns, he visited neighboring theaters, took photographs of the layout, bought his ticket nearly two weeks in advance and out of the seven theaters within a 20 minute drive of his apartment, he chose the only theater posting signs banning concealed guns.
It’s no mystery where mass shootings in America take place or why criminals choose to carry out their evil deeds in them, schools are much different than any other venue in this discussion. One thing that begs to be pointed out is that Barack and Michelle’s own daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, have armed secret service guards with them for their protection. At all times. Yes, of course I understand that they are in the public eye and therefore a more significant target for some, but bear with me. How much do we pay taxes for that armed security detail for these two children? As a concealed carry permit holding parent, all I’m asking for is the opportunity to be armed in schools as a layer of protection – FREE OF CHARGE. If the state law allows for concealed carry, then schools should comply.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill allowing off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry in schools. Currently under Wis. Stat. § 948.605(2)(b)1m and 18 USC 922(q)(2)(B)(v), “citizens can carry on school grounds in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in the school zone and the individual or their employer.” But getting permission, much less a response from a school district is seldom possible. In fact, while Oregon law does allow permitted concealed handguns on school property, just like here in Wisconsin, public educators undermined the law by putting bans in faculty and student handbooks, thus rendering gun owner’s rights useless.
Eric Dietz, Ph.D., former director of Homeland Security for the state of Indiana and a 22-year Army veteran, now a professor at Purdue University, researched mass shootings from the 1950s on. He discovered that only two of them occurred where guns are legal to be carried. Think about that: every mass shooting in the United States since the 1950’s except two have occurred in gun-free zones.
So what can be done?
A comprehensive plan from Congressman Thomas Massey (R–KY) was introduced through H.R. 86, the Safe Students Act, which would effectively repeal the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. Massey’s H.R. 86 would undo the GFSZA, which currently makes it “unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” The Supreme Court found the GFSZA unconstitutional in 1995, which prompted Congress to amend the bill in 1996, however the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of the amended Act as of yet.
“Gun-free school zones are ineffective.” says Rep. Massey, “They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target rich, no-risk environments. Gun-free zones prevent law abiding citizens from protecting themselves and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”
Massey also said, “A bigger federal government can’t solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun-free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence, but they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves.”
I’m honestly shocked it’s taking this long to repeal the GFSZA. As gun owners, we know the reality of gun violence being committed in gun-free zones. To me, this chart says it all:
Schools aren’t the exception, they are the rule. I know for myself, when I drop my kids off in the morning, or attend school functions with them, it feels odd to not be able to carry in the presence of so many innocent, defenseless children. The FBI’s response to an active shooter situation is strong citizen awareness and strict adherence to the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol, which is also endorsed by all other federal agencies. What about allowing armed teachers and staff to be able to “Defend and Protect”?
In regards to what Obama may be planning to do via executive order or otherwise, perhaps it may come from actual research on the subject. In 2013, the White House ordered the CDC to “conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.” According to the White House report, “Research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.”
The report expresses “uncertainty” about gun control measures, stating that “whether gun restrictions reduce firearm-related violence is an unresolved issue,” and that there is no evidence “that passage of right-to-carry laws decrease or increase violence crime.”
“It depends on who’s doing the research,” said John Frazer, director of research and information at the National Rifle Association (NRA), “I would be very concerned that a lot of the follow-up research that might come from this agenda would be more of what we’ve seen from the anti-gun public health establishment in the past.”
Although the CDC’s conclusion – that certain (smart guns or biometric locked) guns are an effective tool often used as a crime deterrent and that most firearm incidents are not fatal – those findings could affect the future of gun violence research, and no surprise, the organizations supporting the CDC study all have close ties to Obama himself.
Which brings us back to we the people.
Parents have always fiercely protected their children but unlike our ancestors, we find ourselves needing to protect them from a different type of schoolyard bully, a different type of threat in the hallways. As parents, we must stand up and tell our Representatives that we need our schools to be policed by law-abiding citizens; parents, teachers and school officials willing to conceal carry for our children’s protection.
Whether it’s on the elementary school playground or on a college campus, our students’ lives deserve to be protected. By any means necessary.