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Should Teachers Be Armed? Experts Pick Sides

December 22, 2016, at WalletHub


Letting teachers and staff carry concealed handguns is nothing new in the United States. And there has been good reason for allowing it — police virtually always arrive after an attack has occurred. Police are very important to fighting crime, but stopping terrorism is a uniquely difficult challenge. For police and security guards, wearing a uniform is often akin to wearing a neon sign saying, “Shoot me first.”

Would you feel safer by posting a sign announcing that your home is a gun-free zone? Criminals don’t obey these signs. In fact, to criminals, gun-free zones look like easy targets. So it doesn’t make any sense to display these signs in public places.

There seems to be a particular fear of concealed handguns being on school property, but this fear is misplaced. Prior to the early 1990s, states that allowed concealed carry didn’t have any special restrictions concerning carrying on K-12 property. And there weren’t any problems.

Twenty-four states allow teachers and staff to carry, though the rules vary across states. Alabama, Utah, New Hampshire, and parts of Oregon leave it up to the teachers and staff to carry. In other states, it requires the approval of the superintendent or the school board, For example, for Ohio, at least 40 school districts allow teachers to carry.

A common fear has been that someone will take the gun away from a teacher

and use it improperly. But this has never happened. And excluding a few cases of accidental discharges when school grounds have been used for off-hours firearms training, there has only been one accidental discharge involving a permit holder on K-12 property. This happened in Utah and resulted in only a very minor injury.

From what I’ve seen in Utah, [school insurance] rates have not gone up because of guns being allowed,” says Curt Oda, past president of the Utah Independent Insurance Agents Association of Utah.

Others are concerned that permit holders will accidentally shoot bystanders or themselves be shot if police respond to the scene and mistake them for the attackers.

Permit holders have stopped dozens of what would have become mass public shootings in malls, churches, schools, universities and downtowns. But in none of these cases has a permit holder has ever shot a bystander. Nor have police ever accidentally shot a permit holder.

Since at least 1950, all but four public mass shootings in America have taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns. In Europe, every mass public shooting in history has occurred in a gun-free zone. And Europe is no stranger to mass public shootings, having been host to three of the four worst K-12 school shootings. In the past eight years, it has suffered a per-capita casualty rate 50% higher than that of the US.

Unsurprisingly, killers try to avoid armed resistance. Earlier this year, a young Islamic State sympathizer planned to shoot up one of the largest churches in Detroit. In a wiretap, the FBI recorded the young man's explanation for why he picked the church: “It’s easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news.”

These killers might be crazy, but they aren’t stupid. They want to kill as many people as possible. Killers consistently pick defenseless targets where they know that no one will have a gun. Just look at the 2015 Charleston, S.C., church shooting, the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the 2015 attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

Gun-free zones are magnets for murderers. Even the most ardent gun-control advocate would never put “Gun-Free Zone” signs on their home. Let’s stop putting them elsewhere.


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