Former prosecutor and Upper Dublin (Pennsylvania) School Board policy chair Sarah Johnson Rothman believes that the best way to protect children in schools is to, well, not protect them. Apparently, the Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill to permit school districts to arm their employees. She asks “[w]hat could go wrong with allowing our teachers to pack heat in their kindergarten classrooms?”
I’m guessing she thinks that’s a rhetorical question, but it actually is the key to this debate: What could go wrong with allowing teachers, librarians, janitors, and administrators to exercise their natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of their choice?
Ms. Rothman comes up with some specific objections…sort of:
… We need [teachers] to be lifelong learners that are highly adaptable to … new standards and curricula … But, they should not be hired muscle with a firearm at their side. We need them practicing their craft not honing their sharpshooting skills at the gun range.
I agree, teachers should not be “hired muscle,” they should be teachers, but Ms. Rothman seems to think that no one working for her school system might already have a permit to carry. But according to this study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, as of 2012 8.67% of Pennsylvanians had their permit to carry. And according to OpenPAgov.org there are 501 school districts, charter schools and other public schools in the state with 146,655 employees on the payroll for 2015-2016.
Assume that 50% of those people work somewhere outside of an actual school (superintendents, secretaries, press flacks, miscellaneous administrative staff and so forth); this leaves an average of about 146 employees per school who work where the kids are. That means on average each school will have about a dozen people who are already “honing their sharpshooting skills at the gun range” in their spare time. They just need the state to get out of the way so they can protect their students the same way they protect their children.
Ms. Rothman then displays a virulent case of hoplophobia:
If guns are allowed in our schools, where would the guns be? Holstered in plain sight, tucked into a teacher’s pants, in a desk drawer, in a handbag, in the locked container in the classroom, in a cabinet in the front office? Imagine Mrs. Schmidt explaining an algebraic equation with a loaded 9mm Glock holstered to her ankle, or Mr. Sample leading a physics experiment while a SIG Sauer is tucked into his waist.
Not b eing neither a blithering idiot or a panty-soiling hoplophobe I am completely opposed to off-body carry in this sort of situation because A) so what if some kids see a holstered handgun and B) a gun locked in the office does you absolutely no good when Nutjob Bob kicks in the classroom door and opens fire. A point which Ms. Rothman proceeds to make in her next paragraph:
And if an armed intruder or a disillusioned child came to the school with a gun, what would happen? Would the “teacher security force” all run to the office arsenal to grab guns while the school is on lockdown?
She then denigrates those teachers she previously lauded:
Yet it is inconceivable that even with the training the legislation mandates, reading specialist Mrs. Windheim could adeptly and accurately shoot the intruder while being shot at with young scared, screaming children in the mix. It is just as likely that she would miss and accidentally harm one of her students.
I agree that it’s highly unlikely that Mrs. W. could “adeptly and accurately” shoot an intruder. Most cops would be hard pressed to do so. It’s extremely difficult to shoot accurately when someone is shooting at you, which is the whole point of having Mrs. W. armed in the first place.
Yes, it’s possible that Mrs. W. would miss the intruder completely and “accidentally harm one of her students,” but the fact that someone is shooting at him is almost certain to drive the intruder from her classroom. Ms. Rothman would apparently prefer that our armed lunatic be able to carefully and methodically (or perhaps adeptly and accurately) aim, fire, and repeat until he runs out of live children to shoot before moving on to the next classroom and doing it again.
Rothman finishes her piece displaying her ignorance with a soupçon of hypocrisy:
Guns should not be met with more guns, and certainly not in our schools. Guns do not make us safer. Those who claim otherwise are not just peddling a myth, but a lie.
I’m sorry Sarah, but it’s you who are peddling the lie here; as I have pointed out before, Defensive Gun Uses save more than twice as many lives as Criminal Gun Uses take. Also as Dr. Gary Kleck has pointed out (and several other researchers have verified) using a gun in self-defense is the safest and most effective course of action available to would-be victims of crime.
As for her hypocrisy, her Rothman says that “[g]uns should not be met with more guns” and yet earlier in her piece she states:
If the concern is the response time of law enforcement to rural areas, this problem should be directly addressed by providing trained professional security personnel for these specific schools.
So I guess guns should be met with more guns, even (especially) in our schools.