While Congress and the media continue to vilify the NRA and similar groups calling for armed officers in public schools choosing instead to push for gun control, several states are pushing back with proposals to permit teachers to carry weapons into public schools.
Following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers in several states including Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oregon and Virginia have proposed or introduced legislation that would permit teachers with concealed carry permits to voluntarily bring their weapons onto school grounds.
Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell said the state should have a discussion about allowing school staff to carry concealed weapons to protect children. State Delegate Robert Marshall has gone further, proposing a bill that would require school districts to designate some staff members to do so.
Mississippi State Rep. Mike Kelley has filed a bill that would allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. The bill currently has the backing of over two dozen state lawmakers. Current law prohibits concealed guns unless it has been approved by a school board or official.
Tony Cornish, a state representative in Minnesota plans to introduce legislation to arm teachers.
“It’s something that we have to face that all of the laws in the world sometimes aren’t just going to work,” Cornish told Minnesota Public Radio. “The cop can’t be everywhere so the best person to defend yourself is yourself.”
In South Carolina, state Rep. Phillip Lowe has introduced a similar proposal that would apply to teachers who have a concealed carry permit. Lowe’s bill would require teachers to complete a training course and notify school officials whenever they brought the weapon on campus. They would also be required to wear the weapon at all times.
The call to arm teachers has sent gun control advocates into a frenzy. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign said arming teachers sends the wrong message to students.
“It’s saying the only answer to violence is more violence. The only answer to guns is more guns,” Gross said.
By contrast, the nation’s two largest teachers unions are emphatically against arming teachers saying it would not keep schools safe.
In a joint letter the National Education and the American Federation of Teachers said, “Guns have no place in our schools. Period. We must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools, and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property and ensure the safety of children and school employees.”
The letter called the idea of eliminating the gun-free zones that make schools an easy target and permitting teachers who have concealed carry permits and desire to bring their weapons to school “dangerous.”
“Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.”
President Obama has responded to the shooting by calling for more gun control, despite the fact the shooter Adam Lanza violated multiple gun laws prior to his crime and Connecticut already having some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the president wanted a wealth of gun control restrictions that have long been desired by liberals. Carney said Obama wanted to require background checks for all private sales of firearms and a ban on semi-automatic weapons that are often labeled assault rifles.
Contrary to what many in the media have reported these weapons are not military weapons. The military definition of assault rifles are those that are fully automatic, meaning once the trigger is pulled the weapon continues to fire until the trigger is released or the magazine is emptied. These weapons have been illegal for private citizens to own since 1934 unless they obtain a special permit.
By contrast, semi-automatic weapons require the shooter to pull the trigger for each round. Congress has changed the definition of assault weapons to include semi-automatics that look like military weapons.
Democrats appear to be wanting to pass draconian gun control measures that go far beyond simply banning magazines or assault weapons.
In Illinois Senate Democrats proposed legislation that would ban the possession, delivery, sale and transfer of certain semiautomatic rifles and handguns. Following a strong backlash from gun rights supporters and conservative media outlets, the Democrats dropped the proposal for now.
California is calling for bullet control by restricting ammunition sales by requiring all ammunition sales to check for identification and report the sale to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.
New York, which already has some of the most restrictive laws in the country wants to place even more restrictions on law-abiding citizens of the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to place new restrictions on assault weapons and new limits on the number of bullets in a magazine.
Despite there being an initial push for stricter gun control laws, there is evidence that the trend may be dissipating.
Last week, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who received an A rating form the NRA said it was “time to move beyond rhetoric” over gun control.
However, he has since clarified his remarks saying he was only calling for a conversation on the issues surrounding the shooting. ““I’m not supporting a ban on anything. I’m supporting a conversation on everything,” Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews.
Larry Pratt, president of Gun Owners of America said despite the media and Democrats attempting to push an agenda calling for gun control, the American people appear to not share that sentiment.
“The feedback that we have gotten from people who were not members of gun owners of America was to the effect of it’s about time somebody said that,” Pratt told WND. “It’s been very affirming people have been hoping that somebody would say what we said in change the debate. I think at the end were going to look back and be very grateful to Piers Morgan for having perhaps provided the turning point in the debate.”
“The response that we got to the interview with Morgan indicates that a lot of Americans have just had it. The way he said what he did reminded a lot of people that’s why were no longer British.”
Pratt’s statement referred to an to an interview he had with CNN’s Piers Morgan. During the interview, Pratt said the solution to help prevent shootings like those at Sandy Hook is to ban laws that prevent people from being able to protect themselves.
Morgan called the suggestion “complete and utter nonsense.”
While Pratt remained calm throughout the interview, Morgan went into a meltown after Pratt noted that Europe has a higher violent crime rate than America. Morgan called Pratt an “unbelievably stupid man” and said he didn’t give a d*** about the gun murder rate in America.
Pratt said the recent shooting at an Oregon mall showed what may have happened if teachers were allowed to concealed carry in schools.
“The shooting out at Oregon shows how it should’ve happened in Newtown. A man was in a mall when he heard the shots,” Pratt explained. “He had a concealed carry firearm and even it was against the mall’s policy he had his weapon. When he ran to the scene of the crime with his gun out, the shooter ran away and committed suicide.”
“Had a teacher pulled out a weapon in Newtown it’s a likely possibility the shooter would’ve committed suicide long before he likely did. The one thing that seems to be in these people’s twisted minds is ‘I will determine when I die.’ “Pratt said.
Several states already permit teachers with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons to school. Utah has allowed teachers and private citizens to bring their weapons to school for several years.
In Harrold, Texas, the local school board has had an “arm the teachers” policy in place since 2008. David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harold School District told the Associated Press that in the years since the policy has been in place, there has not been a single safety issue involving students which he attributes to the high level of training the teachers receive.
“Their accuracy is probably going to be 100 percent. The only people who have more shooting training in the State of Texas than my teachers are Highway Patrol,” Thweatt said. “A shooter could take out a guard or officer with a visible, holstered weapon, but our teachers have master’s degrees, are older and have had extensive training. And their guns are hidden. We can protect our children.”
In Connecticut permit holders are allowed to carry in schools, providing the school gives them permission.