Teachers Packing Heat

Written By: Rachel Strong
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After the recent school shootings (and thwarted school shootings) in the past month-just as after all school shootings-discussion has turned to the validity of the "Gun Free" zones. Questions swarm after these horrific events-Could this tragedy have been prevented (or at least lessened) if there was at least one other person on campus with a gun? If guns are available in plane cockpits, why aren't cops or teachers able to carry in schools?

Proponents of the Gun Free campuses say that if police, security guards, or teachers have firearms on campus, a student could disarm the adult and use the gun already at school-he wouldn't even have to bring his own! They also say that it is unfair to "force" teachers who may be uncomfortable with guns to have a gun in the classroom.

While it is not right to force someone to do something (or carry something) he or she does not feel comfortable with, sometimes the Gun Free zoning can go a bit too far.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, a university in Minnesota sent an email to all its students on their school email accounts offering counseling to any student in need. Student Troy Scheffler responded to the email saying simply that the school may want to reconsider its Gun Free Zone rule and allow students with concealed weapons permits (which requires extensive background checks and gun use classes) to carry weapons on campus. Scheffler pointed out that if another student had a firearm-and was properly trained and licensed-the Virginia Tech tragedy may have been lessened. That was on a Friday.

On Monday, Scheffler received a letter stating he was suspended. Before the administration would talk to him, he had to complete and pass a mental health evaluation. Scheffler also said that a (armed) police officer was posted outside his classroom in case he himself came to school with a gun.

In Medford, Oregon, high school teacher Shirley Katz obtained a concealed weapon permit and completed the required weapons training because she had a violent ex-husband. During the course of a conversation with a student, Katz-who didn't want to lie to a student-said that she had a (legal) weapon on campus. Her gun was made known to administrators. Katz-who fears a school shooting (a school shooting occurred in 1998 only 150 miles to the north) as well as her ex-was brought into the office and grilled by the administration and police officers. After a few hours, Katz was released and told that if the administration found (or even suspected) that she had brought her gun to campus not only would she be arrested and face disciplinary action, but her legal, registered, permitted firearm would be confiscated and not returned.

But if a Medfordian teen attending the high school knows that Katz may possibly have her 9 mm on campus and knows that she knows how to use it, how likely is he to plan a school shooting? What if Katz' ex brings a gun on campus looking for her and she does not have any way to protect herself or her students?

If we as a society allow police, pilots, and even bank security guards to carry guns, why are we so adamant to prevent firearms in schools (in the hands of responsible, licensed adults)? If guns are good enough to protect our money, why aren't they good enough to protect our most precious possessions?

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