Locked & Loaded

Gun control and school safety: strange bedfellows

Rick Lindskog | Letter To The Editor

Start with this fact: Statistically speaking, there is no safer place for a child to be than a school – a child is safer in school than at home, church or granny’s.
Gun violence in a school is extremely rare, and quite difficult to defend against. Hiring armed guards and installing metal detectors at schools is not only expensive, but it’s also destructive to optimal learning environments. Schools should reflect a climate of safety and well-being, not ‘good guys with guns,’ metal detectors and anti-terrorist security measures.
Anti-gun proponents contend there is no legitimate use for semi-automatic assault rifles, insisting we be rid of them, or at least levy taxes, with a ban on accoutrements. Also necessary will be background checks, to somehow magically ferret out dangerous persons. (Never mind that in all the decades of conducting research has anyone ever reliably found a way to predict which individual will commit a violent act).
On the other side are those who insist the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is inviolable because the founding fathers not only recognized the need for citizens to hunt, but also understood their need for self-defense from enemies both foreign and domestic.
In fact, citizen militias were also about the ability to quell uprisings and slave riots. But documentation supports the founding fathers’ recognition that a well-regulated citizen militia serves to check tyranny of the standing army. Recall those guys were real touchy about tyranny.
So now—linking gun control to school safety—I think it begs the issue, a red herring if you will. Linking gun control to school safety is a rhetorical gambit. Apparently the bait is that stricter control of guns will make schools safer. I think the currently debated issues in gun control debate have little to do with school safety.
Schools must be reasonable in issues of physical design and operational procedures in implementing safety measures. No physical barrier will guarantee stopping an armed intruder who is willing to die on that day. And extensive security measures are detrimental to a productive learning climate.
Another important piece of this has to do with prevention of violence by using the existing mental health professionals in the school. The administrators, teachers, school psychologists, school counselors, parents and others are all part of school safety, which is absolutely linked to school climate.
Crisis response planning is mandated, and all schools already have in place written procedures to follow when incidents occur—these must be practiced and reviewed by school staff to be effective when needed.
There are some mental health resources in schools, but not enough. We are caught in an emphasis of measurement of basic academic skills, instead of student connectedness. We need to expand mental health resources and link to community mental health providers, as well as plan for threat assessment.
In the school, all stakeholders should participate to support school safety. There are approaches to social-skills training, anti-bullying programs, conflict resolution training, suicide prevention programs that have all been demonstrated to effect violence and school-based crisis. School safety is a multifaceted construct requiring common goals and planning. This requires constructive engagement on the part of staff, parents and families, students, and the general community.

Nightforce rifle scope representatives discuss features of their products with potential clients at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Nightforce rifle scope representatives discuss features of their products with potential clients at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Respect my choice as well as my rights

Christopher Stockton | Letter To The Editor

I am a U.S. Marine Corps disabled veteran. With all the uproars these days concerning gun control I just wanted to throw a few arguments out there and let people see the facts for themselves when compared to the whole picture.
I was part of a recent debate in a classroom with fellow classmates at Pittsburg State University, where I am a graduating senior this semester with my BAS in technology management. It really upsets me when the citizens of the community are whining to let the federal government infringe on our rights. I completely respect one’s choice not to own a firearm, or if you do not want a magazine of a certain capacity or whatever your thoughts may be on the subject. All I ask is that you respect my choice as well as my rights. Just as it is your right to choose not to participate, it is my right to choose to participate.
I agree there are people out there that do not deserve or should not have access to firearms. That’s why there are NICS (National Instate Criminal Background Check System) checks on all regulated firearm sales. The fact is this system does do its job in the regulation of the “law-abiding” citizens. The stronger the laws become and the harder they make it to regulate us “law-abiding” citizens, the more the “law-abiding” citizens feel slapped in the face.
This is a very sore subject. I hate to even mention it, but it is true. Just think, if all the criminals who have walked into a school, work place, mall, movie theater, or just random locations and opened fire would have actually obeyed the sign at the door saying “No Fire Arms” on premises, turned around and walked away. I am willing to bet none of them would have been deterred by the signs and done anything different. Whereas a competent “law-abiding” citizen (which are the only ones these new policies will affect) would have respectfully secured their firearm in a safe and secure place before entering those locations!
As the world grows in population that does mean there are greater risks and more chance for heinous things to happen. However, this does not mean that our rights warrant being removed. We have a strong constitutional background that we as proud Americans have stood by since Sept. 17, 1787. For almost 226 years now this has been maintained even through times when people didn’t agree with it. Why should the government start to infringe on our rights now?
If you don’t agree with it, then regulate and maintain yourself to your own “personal values” not all of America’s traditional values. As hopefully most you know, the Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” To me this says I can own and bear arms, which means any arms I want. Nowhere does it say keep and bear arms “except for…”.
One of the first lines of defense to maintain our rights is by standing true to the 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” We the people have to stand together as a state for the states to run the federal government, not the federal government running the states.

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