Veteran conservative Seattle radio personality John Carlson could just as easily have kicked a hornet’s nest when he wrote in his column at the left-leaning “Crosscut” online news magazine that arming school officials “might not be a bad idea.”
According to several reader responses, it’s not a good idea, either. But those are reactions from people who most likely supported two anti-gun-rights citizen initiatives that have burdened law-abiding gun owners with paperwork that hasn’t demonstrably prevented a single crime (I-594 in 2014) and stripped young adults of Second Amendment rights while defining smallbore target and hunting rifles as “semiautomatic assault rifles” (I-1639 in 2018). They don’t really care for Carlson, the morning drive-time talkmeister at Seattle’s KVI-AM radio.
By no small coincidence, a report in AmmoLand Monday discussed the idea of arming teachers and school administrators. That piece quoted Colorado State Rep. Patrick Neville, the state Senate Minority Leader, who has a very unique perspective: He’s a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton. He was interviewed by NPR just days after the STEM school Highlands Ranch shooting two weeks ago. Here’s a telling segment of that interview, conducted by NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro:
GARCIA-NAVARRO: “You’re a Republican, a proponent of gun rights in Colorado. And in 2018, you introduced a bill to allow concealed handguns on school grounds. That bill didn’t pass. But do you feel students would’ve been safer with concealed firearms at STEM School?”
NEVILLE: “I do. You know, I think that probably wouldn’t have – the shooting probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place. One of the reasons I propose this bill year after year is the fact that it’s a major deterrent. If they know they’re going to go in there and face opposition and they don’t know where that opposition’s going to come from, they’ll probably think twice about doing it in the first place. So I think they probably would have been safer had it actually broken out. But I think it probably would have prevented it from even happening in the first place.”
In Washington State, a single school district—in the eastern Washington community of Toppenish—allows armed staff. According to Carlson’s Crosscut column, Toppenish Supt. John Cerna spent 18 months to develop and implement the policy, which probably doesn’t make Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction, happy at all. He is adamantly opposed to armed school staff and has vowed to not “authorize, permit or distribute any resources to support efforts to arm teachers.”
“State law,” he said, “is clear that our schools are gun-free zones for teachers and students.”
That policy has not worked so well. Ask survivors of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting in October 2014. Ask people who knew special education teacher Jennifer Paulson, who was gunned down by a stalker at Birney Elementary School in February 2010. Ask students who were at Tacoma’s Foss High School in January 2007 when a student named Samnang Kok was murdered in a school hallway.
A ground-breaking program called FASTER (for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) has, for about six years, been training hundreds of school employees. The project is sponsored by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, an off-shoot of the Buckeye Firearms Association, one of those genuine “gun safety” groups that actually teaches and practices safe and responsible firearms handling.
Carlson’s Crosscut article also noted that state Sen. Phil Fortunato “has repeatedly called for legislation allocating money to school districts to train school employees on the safe use of firearms in case of an armed attack at a school.”
As noted by the AmmoLand article, several days ago Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that will allow local school districts to have volunteer teachers take special training in order to have a firearm on campus. Liberals do not want guns on campus, but in Toppenish, and in the other schools where FASTER-trained school staff might be armed, there have not been any of the incidents that anti-gun hysterics have predicted. But ask any of these gun prohibitionists if they would be willing to identify their homes as “gun-free zones” and one will likely be met with silence.
Perhaps Carlson sums it up best: “I know plenty of right-leaning folks who have stickers on the doors or a window of their home advertising their membership in the NRA or announcing, “This house is insured by Smith and Wesson.” I also have many progressive friends who don’t own guns and would never own one. But no one has a sticker in the window announcing that they live in “a gun free zone.” Why would they want to publicly advertise their vulnerability to attack? They should think hard about that before advocating gun free zones in buildings filled with children.”
Are you in favor of arming teachers? Why or why not? Share your answer in the comment section.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is an award-winning career journalist with an expertise in firearms and the outdoors. He is the author of several books dealing with firearms politics. He has a degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington and is a lifelong Washington resident.
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