Point / Counterpoint: Guns in schools

In the wake of the Parkland school schooting, what do you think the response should be to protect schools from similar events?

It is time to get serious about protecting our children

By Christian Rose
Reader Contributor

The last time anyone at Stoneman Douglas High School remembers seeing Jr. ROTC Cadet Peter Wang, he was in uniform, holding the exit doors open and ushering fellow students and staff to safety. He wasn’t the only hero of this story. Other JROTC cadets stepped up and shielded fellow students with Kevlar sheathing, used during their shooting practice, as well. But, Cadet Wang was murdered that day, along with 16 other innocent victims. His sacrifice is worthy of our respect.

He is also worthy of an honest look at real solutions that may prevent future school shootings. Solutions that actually have a real chance at implementation. Solutions that are proven to work.

I can tell you, if you think banning guns, even simply banning AR-15 style rifles, under the narrative of “common sense gun control measures,” has any realistic shot at getting approved through Congress, you’re deluding yourself. Not only is this not going to happen, it is contrary to the actual data as it relates to firearm ownership and crime. More importantly though, it isn’t constitutionally viable.

Do we all want to do something that may actually save lives? Or do we want to just scream and yell at each other?

If your answer is yes, let’s stop arguing and actually do something that will prevent these crimes. There’s a lesson that can be learned from Israel.

In 1974, PLO terrorists took students and staff hostage at Netiv Meir Elementary School. Twenty-two children and three staff members were killed. Sixty-eight others were injured in what became known as the Ma’alot Massacre.

In response to this, Israel now requires schools with 100 or more students to have an armed guard posted. The Ministry of Education funds shelters and fences, reinforces school buses, and even hires and trains the security personnel.

Oh, yeah, they also carry guns. And they use them when needed. The fact that they’ve only had two other attacks on school children since then shows the policy is working. In both of those cases, the assailant was stopped by either an armed guard, or an armed student. Remember, they live among a radical element that wants to wipe them off the map. This is a real threat, that is met with an appropriately armed response.

Yes, Israel does have much more restrictive civilian firearm ownership laws then we do here, and the threat they face is more uniquely a result of terrorism. But the data is clear. Proactive security measures, armed guards, and training help prevent and stop school shootings.

Yes, it is time to get serious about protecting our children. Infringing on the constitutional right of legal firearm ownership is neither a serious, nor a practical solution. It’s time for those on the left to come to terms with this reality.

For too long, we’ve been way too soft. It’s as if we’re too afraid to actually deal with this growing problem head-on. Instead, we allow fringe elements to scare us into submission.

One side is so afraid that we may actually lose our right to own firearms we just refuse to stand up and say, enough already. We are not the problem.

The other side thinks a gun-free America will end murder. They refuse to look at this issue logically. Instead emotionally-based accusations are wielded via constant ad hominem attacks.

As a result, we’re allowing our children to be sacrificed because we are too afraid to protect them in ways that will actually work.

I’ve had it. JROTC Cadet Peter Wang deserves better. Our children deserve better. They deserve it now.

Christian Rose lives in Sagle and owns an asset management firm in Spokane. He holds an MFA in creative writing and publishing from EWU and is a frequent commentator on constitutional and civil libertarian issues.

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Guns? Schools? Again?

By Michael Bigley
Reader Contributor

Yes, we’re talking about this again, and all the old arguments are still floating around and still getting nowhere as fast as ever. Ban assault weapons? Limit magazine size? Raise the minimum age? Finally make background checks universal? All of these ideas, polls show, have very broad support in the general population, and very low support among the elected officials and the lobbies that fund them. I’m not holding my breath for any of them, and I have little interest in re-debating their merits in the face of this intractable reality.

This time, though, two things are new, and we should be paying attention to both for very different reasons.

The first is that the most powerful person in America has had a very bad idea. The president has got it into his head that what America needs is armed teachers, and suddenly this nonsense is being repeated everywhere, most dangerously in state legislatures. I’m sure there are plenty of teachers out there who would love to carry a gun in their school. These are not the kind of teachers you want around your children.

As a public school teacher myself, I can tell you that I would never work in a building with an armed teacher, let alone carry a weapon myself. A teacher, like a police officer or a soldier, is a trained professional. The difference is that, in their extensive weapons training, the latter two have to learn to dehumanize their potential target; there is no other way that they could operate effectively when the moment arises. All of a teacher’s professional training, on the other hand, is focused on humanizing their students — on seeing them as whole persons with complicated lives and needs — and the shooter in a school situation is almost always a current or former student.

Training a teacher to face one of those students with a firearm means teaching them to look at every student, every day, not as a human but as a potential target. This training is directly counter to the qualities that make an effective educator, to say nothing of the disrespect towards the professionalism of officers and soldiers in the idea that a teacher could learn their intensively trained skills in a weekend or two.

The second — and, I think, I hope, more lasting — idea to arise out of the Parkland shooting is that no one is more qualified to speak to the safety of students than the students themselves. These young citizens, not yet allowed to vote on their own lives, are taking up the oldest and purest form of democratic action: public speech and organized civil disobedience.

On Wednesday, students walked out of Sandpoint High School for a 17-minute demonstration and memorial for the seventeen students killed last month in Florida. This action is entirely student-organized (the closed Facebook group planning the event has 185 members as of this writing); there’s no George Soros funding here, no celebrity endorsers.

No one told these students to speak out, but we had better be listening.

Michael Bigley is a teacher at Forrest Bird Charter School and instructor at North Idaho College.

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