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Here's what Pa. can do to stop the next school shooting

April 14, 2018, at Penn Live

By John R. Lott, Jr.


Instead of solving the problem of violence in their halls, Pennsylvania schools are becoming a national punchline.

This week, one school district announced it will arm teachers with miniature 16-inch long baseball bats. Another district recently placed5-gallon buckets of rocks in classrooms so students could defend themselves in the event of an attack.

Americans desperately want to do something to stop these attacks, though polls indicate strong skepticism about new gun control laws.

The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering bills that are useless or would cause more harm than good.

Background checks on private transfers of guns, so-called universal background checks, wouldn't have stopped the attack in Florida or any of the other mass public shootings in this century.

We already tried a federal assault weapons ban for 10 years. Even research paid for by the Clinton administration didn't find any benefit. Other studies have found state bans to be unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has threatened to vetolegislation that could make a real difference by giving trained staff members real ways of defending their schools. Rocks and miniature bats just aren't going to cut it.

Nationwide, parents of K-12 aged children are surprisingly supportive of arming teachers.

After the Parkland shooting, a Rasmussen survey showed 59 percentsupported President Donald Trump's proposal to give teachers monetary incentives to carry guns in school. 54 percent of adults without schoolchildren oppose the idea. Overall, slightly more people oppose than support the idea

Putting an officer in each school is very costly and not an effective solution. Police are crucial in the fight against crime, but their uniforms are like neon signs reading, "Shoot me first." If teachers carry concealed firearms, attackers won't know who is armed. They won't know who they need to attack first.

More than 98 percent of US mass public shootings since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones.

This includes right-to-carry states, where licensed individuals can carry virtually anywhere. But time and again, attacks occur in those tiny areas where permitted concealed handguns are forbidden.

When are we going to learn?

Do we need the shooters to spell it out for us? Some have, including shooters at a Charleston church and at a Colorado movie theater.

In diaries and other statements, they have explicitly stated their intentions to avoid places where people have guns. In 2016, a young Islamic State sympathizer planned a shooting at one of the largest churches in Detroit. The FBI recorded a telephone call where he explained why he had picked the church: "It's easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church."

We don't have to guess about the logistics of letting teachers carry. In 18 states, teachers and staff are already carrying concealed handguns, though the rules vary greatly.

Utah, with some of the least restrictive rules, has allowed teachers and staff to carry since 1997. There has never been a mass public shooting at an American school that allows concealed carry.

Clark Aposhian, the senior member of Utah's Concealed Firearm Review Board, estimates roughly 5 percent of teachers in his state carry permitted concealed handguns at school.

Aposhian estimates a rate of between 10 percent and 12 percent among support staff . These support staff include janitors, librarians, secretaries, and lunch staff.

Carrying in a school is no different than in a grocery store, movie theater, or restaurant. Over 1.3 million Pennsylvanians have a concealed handgun permit, and nobody knows who is carrying until a need arises. With almost 14 percent of adults having permits, public places are rarely defenseless. Except for schools.

Permit holders have recently stopped dozens of would-be mass public shootings in malls, churches, schools, universities and towns. Still, some people fear the worst. They fear that permit holders won't respond well, and perhaps accidentally shoot an innocent bystander. But that's never happened. Nor has a police officer ever accidentally shot a permit holder.

Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety makes undocumented assertions that insurance premiums have increased. But that's not the experience of Curt Oda, former President of the Utah Association of Independent Insurance Agents."From what I've seen in Utah, [school insurance] rates have not gone up because of guns being allowed," says Oda. Nor has a survey the Crime Prevention Research Center conducted of other states shown any increase in insurance costs.

Excluding off-hours firearms training on school grounds, there has only been one accidental discharge involving a permit holder on K-12 property. The individual was by herself in a school staff restroom in Utah outside of school hours and no one was shot.

Would you put a "Gun-Free Zone" sign outside your home? You'd better think twice about doing that, especially in a high-crime area. When we put signs like that in front of our schools, we advertise their defenselessness. We need be trying to scare off shooters.  

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