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Security Does Not Mean Arming School People

Governor Bob McDonnell (R) of Virginia thinks that a good way to protect children in schools is to provide guns for school people.  In his monthly radio address, the Governor said, “If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop aggressors trying to come into the school, so I think that’s a reasonable discussion that ought to be had.” 

For those of you unfamiliar with Governor McDonnell, he’s the reasonable guy who thought that women considering ending a pregnancy should be forced to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound.  When the bill that he had supported came to his desk, however, given the severe backlash, he decided not to sign it.  Now McDonnell joins Rick Perry of Texas and Republican legislators in Oklahoma, Nevada, and South Dakota in thinking that arming teachers and principals is one heck of an idea. Gun free

The Governor’s announcement was followed by a bevy of scathing comments online. “Using that same
logic, we can prevent drunk driving with more booze,” said one.   “And prevent cancer by second hand smoke if you light up when someone else does.  Call it self-defense,” said another.  There was also, “That worked out well in Fort Hood.” And “Yeah, that’s what every administrator wants, to run a school and be trained in combat.”  There was also, “So you think that’s a reasonable discussion that ought to be had?  No it is not, you addle-brained nincompoop!”  Well, you can say anything online, but you get the gist of the general response to this idea.

McDonnell’s spokesperson Paul Logan said that the governor was going to create a task force to review safety in Virginia’s schools.  “The key, “ said the governor, “is don’t over-react.”

Call me crazy, but it’s just possible that arming the adults at school could fall under the category “Over-reacting,” especially when you consider that here in Virginia it’s possible to walk into a school and right down to the classrooms without checking with anyone.  Doors are unlocked; children and teachers do not practice what to do in case of emergency other than fire.  So I’m thinking that there may be a number of procedures that could be put in place here before arming the adults in schools.   School safety experts concur that the safety procedures in place and practiced at Sandy Hook probably helped save lives.

And here’s something else you just might want to consider, Governors:  Just like in the general population, not every teacher or administrator should have access to guns.  Having a teaching certificate or an administrative credential doesn’t necessarily mean you also have great judgment, are slow to anger, or never feel stressed or betrayed or discouraged.  And it’s foolish to think that all guns in schools would always be locked up so that no student would ever be able to access them.

Luckily, besides the reasonable Gov. McDonnell, Virginia also has Sen. Mark Warner, who said, “I’ve had a NRA rating of an “A” but, you know, enough is enough.  I think most of us realize that there are ways to get to rational gun control.  There are ways to grapple with the obvious challenges of mental illness.”  Keep talking, Senator.

When I was an elementary principal one of the first things I did was have the custodian remove the huge NRA sticker from my office window put there by my predecessor.  True, just about everyone in the community was a hunter, and some teachers routinely took a personal day on the first day of deer season.  I never had a problem with hunting, and I enjoyed the good venison stew they shared with me.  All fine.  But leave the guns outside of school.

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