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Knoxville, TN 37902
Reference your article “More Guns in Schools?” [Citybeat by Paige Huntoon, Jan. 31, 2012] describing the proposed bill by Tennessee Sen. Frank Nicely requiring an armed resource officer or other staff in every Tennessee school. This appears to be a variation on the earlier House Bill 006, submitted by Rep. Eric Watson. Placing armed personnel in each and every school. What could be the possible objection to such a law?
Let me count the ways.
Both bills are obviously exploiting the public horror over the recent Sandy Hill Elementary attack, but such special legislation ignores similar tragedies at such places as the Webster, N.Y. ambush and murder of firemen, the Tucson assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other innocent parties, and, of course, the cold-blooded Aurora theater massacre.
The obvious question for Sen. Nicely and Rep. Watson would be “why only schools?” Should not the right carry firearms be extended to all public venues? Would they recommend that the mall sales lady use a shoulder holster, a belt clip, or an ankle strap? The young man vending popcorn at the local cinema would probably get a lot of oil on his pistol grip. Would it be all right if he kept a shotgun under the counter instead?
From personal experience, most training [classes], such as the “40-hour law enforcement class,” are a joke. As Assistant Chief Deputy Spangler noted, actual firearm use consists of 48 rounds fired at a stationary target. Certainly not sufficient for a true stress situation.
Most Tennessee school systems are financially stressed to nearly the breaking point. Assuming that teachers and/or other personnel should be armed, who pays for it? Logically, if it is required for the employees’ safety, then the expense must be borne by the school system. As an alternative, since it is being proposed as a state law, would Sen. Nicely and Rep. Watson agree that it should be funded at the state level?
Would the actual weapon be considered a piece of personal safety equipment? In most environments, safety equipment, such as steel-toed shoes, are provided at the employers’ expense or at least granted a 100 percent tax deduction. Therefore, should the school employee (or the popcorn vendor for that matter) be reimbursed for their Glock?
And then there are the legal responsibilities. I remember most of my elementary and secondary level teachers as sweet little ladies. Absolutely none of them had ever to my knowledge been exposed to a flashpoint event. So assume that a real crisis arises and this sweet little old lady pulls out her 9mm, starts firing, hits the perpetrator, but in the process also kills a co-worker or (worse) a student. What would be the legal responsibilities and who would pay the employee, principal, school legal expenses?
The bottom line: The purpose of Senator Nicely’s proposal is an obvious “see what I have done” ploy. It makes no attempt to address the true problems of rampant firearms violence by a few against the general population. Rather than direct his attention to the true issue of massive and lethal firepower readily available to the unstable, he has chosen to ape the insane “the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” posture of the NRA.