Guns In Schools? Are You Kidding Me?

Opinion columnist Christine Wolf responds to the National Rifle Association's suggestion of placing armed guards in schools, describing it as "the worst idea I've heard in a long time."

Protecting schools with armed guards won’t do a thing. In fact, it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve heard in a long time.

Believe me, I understand why people like the idea – especially those who live closest to Newtown, CT, where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school last month, killing 20 kids and adults. Their worlds are shattered. They’re in shock. They’re angry and they never want to see something like it happen again.

But it will, and a guard at the front door with a pistol won’t save anyone from a determined individual armed with intent and a gun.

It’s time everyone stops the posturing, because that’s really what it is.

The U.S. government claims its hands are tied over the right to bear arms. The National Rifle Association claims we’ll protect people from gun violence with more guns. Local governments claim nothing can be done until Washington changes the laws.

All the while, hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to obtain and use guns.

A single mom keeps a gun in her house to feel protected from would-be-intruders or an abusive ex-husband. A disadvantaged young man claims he carries a gun because he and four relatives have been shot and he doesn’t want anyone stealing the drugs he sells to feed his family. A curious pre-teen claims that holding his father’s handgun makes him feel invincible.

It’s all just posturing, and it’s time we stop. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see break-ins turn into bloodbaths, impoverished neighborhoods crackling with gunfire, and accidental shootings ending promising lives.

Some of us are born with mental illness, but not one of us is born with a gun in our hands. We’ll all die someday, and while we cannot prevent death by disease, age or accident — why increase our chances with such easy access to guns?

Don't get me wrong. Armed guards in schools have the potential to teach our nation's kids so much, like the idea that the world's a terrifying, dangerous place and that guns are the way to deal with it.

But, an armed guard, standing at the front door of a school, can do nothing to stop the individual who sits in a car, shooting onto a school playground.  Even a hastily-arranged cadre of armed security personnel barricading every door, window and access point to a school won’t prevent a seemingly balanced teacher who, one day, snaps inside her classroom, pulling out a gun from her bag and shooting her own students.

Feeling horrified reading that last sentence? Then you know how I feel about Americans’ access to guns.

Earl Weiss January 07, 2013 at 01:04 PM
NIles District 219 took a step down this road long ago by having armed people stationed on campus. They are called Skokie Police Officers.
Earl Weiss January 07, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Police Department - Special Assignments School Resource Officer Officers are assigned to each of the two District 219 Niles Township High Schools as well Lincoln and Old Orchard Junior High Schools. http://www.skokie.org/pdspecassignments.cfm
Elizabeth Hubbard January 07, 2013 at 01:32 PM
I don't want my kids to play at houses where there are guns. I certainly don't want them in a school where every teacher has a gun!
Christine Wolf January 07, 2013 at 02:23 PM
It's my understanding that a School Resource Officer's purpose and contributions extend far beyond protecting students from outside harm: an SRO is there to keep the peace within the school as much as to protect the students while they are on campus. Speaking as a former early childhood teacher myself, a typical elementary school does not require an SRO unless there are students who show an inclination to harm others or themselves or if a hostile environment has grown beyond the administration's abilities to deal with it. But an SRO won't keep a determined gunman out of a school. Further, if a gunman does approach a school, who's to say an SRO wouldn't shoot children AND the shooter? The National Association of School Resource Officers backs up what Earl is saying (http://www.nasro.org/). From their website: “School-based policing requires specialized training not covered in most law enforcement academies. Because school resource officers are much more than armed guards, they need training in teaching, counseling and the special skills required to act as a law enforcement officer in a school setting. In addition, we recommend that all school resource officers receive special training to assure that their responses to an active shooter will be safe and effective.”
Jim January 07, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Christine, The "posturing" of gun ownership is because the gun owners have lost faith in our society's ability to protect them. They see and hear the venality of politicians and public officials many of whom have armed guards, they see the pictures of the yellow tape scenes of death and destruction (the police arrived after the fact), they see the wealthy living in gated and guarded communities, they see the emotionally ill untreated. It is no wonder they "posture". Change the laws and you will have 100,000,000 felons out there with guns. Change the culture and it's deceits and then maybe the gun thing will improve. Let's start with honesty, loyalty, prudence, devotion to duty, compassion, humility, meekness and charity. When folks are convinced that those are the basics of our society, the guns will disappear. The law approach believes that free will can be suspended by legalities. The moral leadership approach would try to lead by example to get folks to choose good over evil. The latter is more difficult but more realistic.
Jeff January 07, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Agree: armed guards in front of schools are not the answer. However, I don't see an issue with having some sort of firearms locked up in schools to be used for emergency use. I agree that we need to restrict/ban assault rifle sales but I also see no harm in having some sort of security protocol within schools that utilizes a firearm if the need arises... We need to increase gun control but also need to increase school security. Only doing one or another will result in another such tragedy.
Christine Wolf January 07, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Candace wrote on my Facebook Page: Evanston Police Department has an officer assigned to ETHS, but the last thing she has time for is roaming the halls "just in case." With a 38 acre campus, how can she be everywhere? Not possible. When I asked if she'd mind if I posted her comment, she said yes, then added, "...you may want to also check how many hours the ETHS/Evanston officer spends in the school every day. With 4,000 people in one institution, that officer has a lot to do with just following up on school incidents and public safety. The in-school security staff is excellent, those people know every student by name, who has graduated, who belongs on campus and who does not, and watch dozens and dozens of doors. They are on staff 24 hours a day and many of them are also coaches." Thank you, Candace. Does anyone know the answers to her questions?
lucas January 08, 2013 at 12:08 AM
What were her questions?
Christine Wolf January 08, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Sorry, just one question, which would be, "...how many hours the ETHS/Evanston officer spends in the school every day."
Jim January 08, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Karen Lewis, head of of the Chicago Teachers Union suggested in a speech yesterday that it might be a good idea to behead wealthy people. Now try to take guns away from wealthy people. Here is the reference: http://www.mediaite.com/online/crowd-laughs-applauds-chicago-teachers-union-president-after-she-jokes-about-beheading-the-rich/ This is what I mean by morons in public positions. And we keep doing it.
John Faden January 09, 2013 at 01:48 PM
There is no perfectly effective way to prevent these attacks. We can keep looking, but everyone is certain that they will happen again. That said, what we can do immediately is to cut these attacks short, as quickly as possible. In all cases where a rampage shooter is faced with armed resistance, the rampage ends. On average, by the time the police arrive, about 14 vicitims are killed. When an armed citizen or police officer is on site, less than 3 are killed. Even one death is unacceptable, but having armed guards in school, be they police, hired guards, or willing volunteers, will always greatly reduce the bloodshed. This is not posturing or trying to protect some abstract right, this is a clear solution to an immediate problem. If it were to become possible I would gladly sign on to have the school that my children go to be the first in this program.
John Faden January 09, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Here is the data for the argument. I'd like to know if this is an eye opener for you. Until your article I wasn't aware of instances where armed guards or police were not effective, except for Columbine. That is food for thought, thank you, but I still believe the numbers show that an armed presence on site can minimize casualties overall. http://www.examiner.com/article/analyzing-shooting-rampage-statistics-after-newport-school-shooting Do you believe that the outcome at Newtown would be the same if the principal, or someone in the front office, had a legally owned handgun?
mrichards49 January 11, 2013 at 02:07 AM
As a former teacher I have seen many a teacher lose it. Your last sentence about teachers shooting their student in a fit of rage is a real possibility. That's a scary thought.
Christine Wolf January 11, 2013 at 08:25 PM
John, I read the article. I really don't understand this paragraph or it's conclusion: "The first point I want to draw your attention to is that roughly half of shooting rampages end in suicide anyway. What that means is that police are not ever in a position to stop most of them. Only the civilians present at the time of the shooting have any opportunity to stop those shooters. That’s probably more important than the statistic itself. In a shooting rampage, counting on the police to intervene at all is a coin flip at best." And why are we even arguing about who can shoot the shooter? I'll say it again: take access to guns away and the debate dies, rather than innocent citizens. In the case of Fort Hood on 11/5/09, the shooting spree took place over 10 minutes on a military base. The shooter targeted unarmed personnel. Even when multiple armed personnel arrived to help, they struggled to "contain" the shooter. This was on the largest populated U.S. military base in the country. Doesn't it seem like a gamble to put an armed guard in schools when -- to achieve success by stopping a shooter -- that guard must be in the right place at the right time and in the right frame of mind if and when a rampage begins. Is that a bet you're willing to take? I'm no shooter, but the very person I'd imagine he/she'd go after in a rampage would be the guard...
lucas January 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM
John May not have been the same but I think close to same result. Just because a person has a gun and has been trained doesn't mean they are ready for combat. Remember women ( I think most teachers are women) aren't allowed in combat.
lucas January 11, 2013 at 11:02 PM
you giving you kids friends parents questionnaires to fill out before they are allowed to be friends?
Christine Wolf January 12, 2013 at 03:42 PM
This just in: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/armed-janitors-approved-school-shootings_n_2458167.html?icid=maing-grid7|maing5|dl1|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D256328 Ironic, I supposed, when you read this: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-02-15/news/0502150304_1_janitor-girls-bathroom-handgun
lucas January 12, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Whose going to find the Janitor when trouble starts?
Christine Wolf January 16, 2013 at 02:45 PM
The NRA just blasted the President for his skepticism about guns in schools. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/nra-video-obama_n_2483118.html?icid=maing-grid7|maing6|dl1|sec1_lnk1%26pLid%3D257711
Jim January 16, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Our President just announced 19 executive orders to "curb" gun violence (human violence) all 19 of which should have been incorporated in our culture and/or law long, long ago. This begs the question where have the leaders been. In some cases the government has CAUSED the problem by deemphasizing mental health diagnosis and treatment. It all confirms my suspicion that the government and the politicians who run it are incompetent and venal. And to boot none of the points address the obvious fact that most law abiding gun owners own a gun not to protect themselves against crime but because they fear the government. Maybe Obama should look into the reasons for that.
Jim January 16, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Why are there armed guards in Obama's kids school?


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