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Commentary: Guns and schools

The headline in one of the Detroit papers today says that in the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy, schools are struggling to reassure children that they are safe.  Well, I hate to be a downer, but they aren’t.

True -- the odds are heavily against any particular school being attacked by a gunman. But it could happen, and, as we all know, almost certainly will happen again.

We’ve seen this, over and over. What is a little different this time is that, as of this morning, legislation was sitting on Governor Snyder’s desk that would allow those with concealed weapons permits to bring guns into schools.

And not just schools -- churches, synagogues and hospitals, day-care centers and sports stadiums. Friday, after we knew that 20 first graders had been murdered in their classrooms, the governor said he all that gave him “serious pause,” and said he was wondering if, in view of all this, signing it was “appropriate.”

Whether he meant politically appropriate or morally appropriate, we don’t know. You may well think that letting guns in schools was inappropriate even before the Connecticut shootings.

But Scot Beaton, who was president of Rochester Hills City Council back in the 90’s, has a different view, one he sent me as a message and posted on LinkedIn over the weekend.

Beaton apparently thinks the real problem in Sandy Hook school was that the teachers weren’t armed. That’s right. He’d like to give them all, quote, “the same gun rights and training programs we allow our nation’s pilots," and, quote “allow those educators with concealed pistol license(s) to bring their gun to school.“

He seems to think it would have been better to have had the teachers blazing away at the gunman. Then maybe the principal could have taken the killer out after the first shot.

You know, that works very well on TV. But in real life, not so much. If you ask anyone who has actually worked in law enforcement, they are apt to tell you that the consequences of a nation of heavily armed teachers would be far more dead children than in Connecticut.

People set guns down, they drop them, they make mistakes, and we know the consequences. Even if Scot Beaton were right, I don’t think I’d want to live in a world where first grade teachers are armed to the teeth, just waiting for a sudden noise or a suspicious person to start blazing away.

It doesn’t take Aristotle to know that the solution to a ticking time bomb is not more bombs. We live in a paranoid world, however.

Steve Dulan, an attorney for something called the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, went on CNN to say that “pistol free zones are actually mass murder empowerment zones.” He, too, wants guns in schools.

Well, here’s a statistic for you. In 2007 more than 3,000 American children died thanks to gun violence. That same year exactly 22 people of all ages were killed with guns in Japan, which has more than a third of our population and extremely tough gun control laws.

Governor Snyder became successful in business by watching the numbers. Seems to me the implications are pretty clear.

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