The very day that David Lieb, writing for the Huffington Post, concluded that legislation allowing school districts across the country to arm teachers was “stalled," another school district announced that it has adopted just such a policy: Clarksville, Arkansas. Those “stalls”, however, according to Lieb, had little to do with lack of support from legislators but instead from strong resistance from those who are most directly interested (or should be) in the health and well-being of their charges: educators.
In Oklahoma, for example, legislation that would allow school districts to arm teachers never made it to a vote, thanks to opposition from teachers and their unions. Rep. Steve Martin, chairman of the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee admitted, “As a rule it’s very difficult to find educators and administrators [who] support the idea of putting arms in schools, for whatever reason.” The North Dakota Senate defeated a measure that would have allowed citizens with concealed carry permits to bring their sidearms into schools, while the New Hampshire House refused even to permit its citizens to vote on allowing school districts to arm their teachers.
But Lieb had to admit that such legislation had legs and was gaining momentum, despite his obvious disapproval. He noted that South Dakota passed new legislation allowing armed teachers and that Texas and Utah “already allow teachers and administrators to bring guns to school,” while similar legislation is pending in Minnesota and Indiana, and came close to passing in Michigan.
He failed to mention successful passage of laws in Kansas and Tennessee, but he did acknowledge Arkansas. The Clarksville School District, a small community of 9,200 people located about 100 miles west of Little Rock is not only encouraging teachers to carry but they’re providing funds to help teachers purchase sidearms, along with 53 hours of training to make sure they know how to use them.
Prior to now there was no plan in place to confront an armed shooter. As Superintendent David Hopkins said: “The plan we've been given in the past is: Lock your doors, turn off your lights, and hope for the best. That’s not a plan.” Allowing armed teachers makes logical and financial sense, according to Hopkins: “We’re not tying our money up in [paying for] a guard … that we won’t have to have unless something [bad] happens. We've got these people who are already hired.”
They’re also doing something else: putting up signs that say that some teachers and administrators are armed but without disclosing who they are. This is exactly the opposite of the “gun-free” zones signs that many school districts are relying on to deter monsters.
Observers opposed to such “gun-free” zones are Massad Ayoob, a nationally-known law enforcement expert and trainer who writes regularly for Backwoods Home magazine, Alan Gottlieb, the executive director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), and Ann Coulter, the acerbic conservative commentator. Wrote Ayoob following the Newtown, Connecticut, attack:
If we simply prepared teachers to handle this type of crisis the way we teach them to handle fires and medical emergencies, the death toll would drop dramatically.
We don’t hear of mass deaths of children in school fires these days: fire drills have long since been commonplace, led by trained school staff….
In the past, if someone “dropped dead,” people would cry and wring their hands and wail, “When will the ambulance get here?” Today, almost every responsible adult knows CPR; most schools have easily-operated Automatic Electronic Defibrillators readily accessible; and a heart attack victim’s chance of surviving until the paramedics arrive to take over is now far greater.
Asked Gottlieb following the Newtown shooting:
How many more tragedies does it take before we do something? How many more children have to die before this country realizes that No Gun Zones create perfect locations for violence? You cannot stop criminals and mad men with laws, you can only stop violence with the fear of armed victims.
Ann Coulter, writing after the Virginia Tech shooting in April, 2007, noted that only one strategy works: allowing potential victims or those in charge of them to be armed. Wrote Coulter:
Only one policy has ever been shown to deter mass murder: concealed-carry laws. In a comprehensive study of all public, multiple-shooting incidents in America between 1977 and 1999, the inestimable economists John Lott and Bill Landes found that concealed-carry laws were the only public policy that had any beneficial effect.
And the effect was not insignificant. States that allowed citizens to carry concealed handguns reduced multiple-shooting attacks by 60 percent and reduced the death and injury from these attacks by nearly 80 percent.
At present, seven states have moved to allow teachers and school administrators to arm themselves to protect their charges against monsters. Some have gone further in allowing anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry on school grounds. Other states are considering similar measures. Clarksville, Arkansas is just one more example of the restoration of sanity to a part of the world that, for a while at least, appeared to have gone mad.