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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Governor Rick Perry Says "Take Your Concealed Guns To School"

"Amid calls for tighter restrictions on guns
following last week's deadly rampage in Connecticut,
Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry said
 at a tea party event Monday
 that anyone with a concealed handgun license
 in the Lone Star State should be able
 to take guns on public property – including schools."

(Kevin Liptak, "Perry Says Concealed Handgun License Should Extend 'Anywhere.'"
CNN, December 18 2012)

"'In the state of Texas, with our concealed handgun license, if you have been duly backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun license carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state,' said Perry, who later added a person has the right to prohibit guns on their private property."

Some supporters of concealed carry suggest that gun owners with concealed carry permits have a responsibility to keep their guns with them no matter where they are, even in elementary and high schools. They claim not doing so is the equivalent of having a fire extinguisher and storing it in the basement, rendering it useless in a situation where it’s needed.

Now, we mourn the unspeakable loss of life in Newtown, Connecticut. We are in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and we all are searching for answers to stop the loss of life in the schools of America. I believe we must be very careful as we proceed to correct problems with school security. As a retired teacher, I am shocked at Governor Perry's beliefs.

Perry's comments should be viewed in the face of statistics that show that the actual risk of a school shooting is far lower than public perception. According to the National School Safety Center (2003), there were 93 incidents in which a student murdered someone at school during the ten years from the 1992-93 school year to the 2001-02 school year. That decade represents some of the worst years for student-perpetrated homicide in history.

Student-perpetrated Homicide

Considering that 93 incidents occurred in ten years, you can expect 9.3 incidents per year in the nation’s 119,000 schools. This means that the annual probability of any one school experiencing a student-perpetrated homicide is 9.3 ÷ 119,000, which is .0000781 or about 1 in 12,804. In other words, an educator can expect a student to commit a murder at his or her school once very 12,804 years.

("School Violence Myths," University of Virginia and the Curry School of Education, 2012)

I understand a student did not carry out the Newtown massacre. Yet, Adam Lanza was a 2010 graduate of Newtown High School with a link to Sandy Hook Elementary School. So, sometimes an intruder does come onto a school campus to kill students. Still, I find that far more students kill people (classmates, teachers, etc.) within their own schools.

Guns on campus legally? I cannot imagine people -- administrators, teachers, support staff such as cooks and bus drivers, substitute teachers, ex-students, parents, community coaches, relatives, friends, food and office supply employees, sporting goods representatives, media reporters, guest speakers, computer tech employees, on and on -- who must enter schools often, if not daily, stepping into these institutions of education with a concealed gun.

Let's face it, those who carry these weapons believe that a gun must be loaded to be immediately effective in stopping violence. What protection does an unloaded gun provide again arms like deadly assault weapons? Loaded guns in schools, I dread to think about the possibility.

Let's also face the fact that although some training is required to obtain a permit, these armed people on school campuses will not be law enforcement officers or security personnel with intense, thorough instruction and training in handling weapons and intervening in violence situations.

Won't allowed concealed carry also open the risk of a student (or students) overcoming an armed teacher and using that teacher's gun to inflict violence and death? Would some innocent bystanders be shot? And, how about the fact that some greedy, evil individuals will likely use their right to transport weapons into schools to sell guns to immature students and even gang members.

Imagine what might happen to combatants, teachers, and innocents in cases of student disagreements when easy gun access is as close as a pocket or a purse. Believe me, I taught high school for decades, and I can't tell you how many physical altercations between students I broke up or helped break up.

Certainly, many injurious fights occurred every year I taught -- some leaving permanent injuries to students and staff. Without good reasoning skills, teens often engage in fights over grades, steady dates, or just because of a rumor that another student supposedly "ran their mouth" about them. Blood already flows on the floors of our classrooms and high schools. I can't belief concealed carry will affect student violence.

Student fights often involve bullies or troubled students. Seldom does a student of large stature initiate a fight against someone their own size. Naturally, this increases the risk of injury to the smaller, less aggressive opponent who is often forced to stand up for his dignity. I have witnessed people sucker punched, kicked in the head with steel-toed shoes, slammed with various objects, head butted, and completely bloodied into submission.

To prevent massive injuries to the youngsters, teachers and other staff members step into these frays at their own personal risk. I have seen teachers and administrators injured and bloodied while breaking up these fights between students. The fights can be very violent and exceedingly emotional. They have the potential to be deadly, especially when two, young, strapping males are eager to damage each other. I cannot imagine introducing a gun into the mix. I have seen school halls, classrooms, and sidewalks littered with the aftermath of these fights -- blood, teeth, hair, and even flesh.

Normally, before these fights occur, news of the impending confrontation spreads like wildfire. Huge groups know when and where the combatants will face off, and these crowds run like hungry animals to witness any violence and bloodshed. The crowds actually cheer opponents on while encouraging them to draw blood. It is not rare to see a frenzied friend enter the fight to gang up on an opponent. Seldom does a witnessing student intervene and stop the bloodshed, and even if one does, he/she faces serious injury for being a good Samaritan.

Might I also mention that special education students are housed on most school campuses. Some of them tend to be very violent and most are not very sophisticated in settling personal disputes. Add to this the fact that a decent percentage of students are victims of violence and mistreatment at home. Many are medicated for specific mental health needs. Some enter school grounds without taking their necessary prescriptions.

Does Perry also consider adult-education programs that exist in some schools? Since a 21 year-old can legally possess a gun under conceal and carry, he/she could attend their own classes with weapons. A teacher may face a classroom of 20-30 students armed "to the teeth." This is not my idea of promoting education.

Why, may I ask, would Texas permit concealed carry in the following places as well as in the state's schools?

Texas now prohibits the following, but this would change if Perry has his way:

* In any (state) government court or office used by the court.

* On the premises of a racetrack.

* At any meeting of a government entity.

* On the premises of a correctional facility.

* Where a sporting event is taking place.

* In an amusement park.

* In a place that derives more than 51 percent of its income from the on-premises sale and consumption of alcohol (bars, taverns, clubs, etc.).

* On the premises of a polling place on election day or during early voting.

* On the premises of a hospital or nursing home (licensed by Texas).

I guess I could make the inference that Governor Perry wants to risk endangerment to judges, gamblers, politicians, government appointees, prison guards, amusement seekers, club goers, voters, the ill, and the aged as well as the children in his schools. But, I will leave that up to you, the readers of the post.

If you must, shoot 'em up, Rick! Lock and load. Let's see if that will bring down the violence and instill a less aggressive nature in Texas inhabitants. Rick, are you for public execution as well? Now, that would feed the bloodthirsty masses and raise deterrence, don't you think? Let's bring back the law of the gun and Old West justice. When you do, please, just do me a favor and keep your ideas and laws in Texas. I've got enough violence to worry about in Ohio.

Teachers, it is time to speak out again insane, mad propositions by prominent politicians and public officials. Complete freedom to concealed carry in schools? I vote "Hell, no!" If you don't make your opinion known now, in the wake of perhaps the most horrible school mass murder in American history, you will lose the opportunity to become an active voice in the proposed new gun legislation. Our children and grandchildren will suffer if we don't unite.

"When we got organized as a country,
[and] wrote a fairly radical Constitution,
with a radical Bill of Rights,
giving radical amounts of freedom to Americans,
it was assumed that Americans
who had that freedom would use it responsibly ....
"When personal freedom is being abused,
you have to move to limit it."

- Bill Clinton
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