In the Philadelphia Inquirer: Wolf should reconsider veto of school gun bill

24 Apr , 2017  

Dr. John Lott has a new piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on a bill before the Pennsylvania state Senate on allowing permitted concealed handguns in public schools.

Gov. Wolf wants to protect schools from mass public shootings by hiring “trained security professionals like school resource or police officers.” But a bill passed last week by the Senate Education Committee would allow school boards to let staff carry on school property as long as they have a concealed handgun permit and have gone through police-related firearms training. Wolf has already promised to veto the bill.

The governor should reconsider. Letting teachers and staff carry concealed handguns is nothing new in the United States, and there has been good reason for allowing it. Police virtually always arrive after an attack has occurred. Police are very important to fighting crime, but stopping mass public shootings is a uniquely difficult challenge.

For police and security guards, wearing a uniform is often akin to wearing a neon sign saying “Shoot me first,” making them easy targets for attackers. The benefit of concealed carry is that the attackers won’t know who is a threat to them. In addition, putting police in schools is also incredibly costly, much more so than staff and volunteers who are already working at the schools.

The fear of ending “gun-free zones” is misplaced. Prior to the early 1990s, states that allowed concealed carry didn’t have any special restrictions concerning carrying on K-12 property. And there weren’t any problems.

Twenty-four states now allow teachers and staff to carry, though the rules vary across states. Alabama, Utah, New Hampshire, and parts of Oregon leave it up to the teachers and staff to carry. The rules in other states are more similar to the Pennsylvania Senate bill and require the approval of the superintendent or the school board, For example, in neighboring Ohio, at least 40 school districts allow teachers to carry.

A common fear has been that someone will take the gun away from a teacher and use it improperly. But this has never happened. And excluding a few cases of accidental discharges when school grounds have been used for off-hours firearms training, there has only been one accidental discharge involving a permit holder on K-12 property. This happened in Utah and resulted in a minor injury.

“From what I’ve seen in Utah, [school insurance] rates have not gone up because of guns being allowed,” says Curt Oda, past president of the Utah Independent Insurance Agents Association of Utah. A survey of school districts in other states that have allowed teachers and staff to carry has also found no evidence of increased insurance costs.

Others are concerned that permit holders will accidentally shoot bystanders or themselves be shot if police respond to the scene and mistake them for the attackers. . . .

The rest of the piece is available here.

UPDATE: Another school district in Ohio has decided to let school teacher and staff carry concealed handguns. WKRC, Channel 12 TV in Cincinnati, reports this:

Georgetown schools will allow staff, who are trained, to carry guns in school starting in the fall.

The school board voted unanimously to put the policy in effect.

Those who will carry guns will have extensive training, such as the training sessions that some staff underwent. . . .

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