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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Should teachers be allowed to carry guns?

From the Washington Posts Answer Sheet

By Valerie Strauss

It was inevitable that someone would push a plan to allow teachers to pack concealed guns, and now, someone has, that someone being Nebraska state Sen. Mark Christensen, who has even submitted legislation to that end.

Here’s what he was quoted as saying by the Christian Science Monitor as he submitted his bill this week to the state legislature: “If you have a kid come in to shoot a teacher ... or other kids, it’s best to have somebody that can take care of the situation.”

The recent shootings in Tucson that left six people dead and 12 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has once again thrown the national spotlight on gun rights, so it was just a matter of time before someone revived the idea of arming teachers.

Christensen’s plan also followed a recent shooting in which an Omaha high school senior killed an assistant principal and wounded a principal before killing himself, the Monitor reported.

Under his legislation, each Nebraska school district would be allowed to set a policy that would require a two-thirds majority vote of the school board to allow teachers and administrators to obtain permits to carry guns on campus. The law would also cover colleges and universities in the state.

To be fair to Nebraska, it isn’t the first place the idea has been raised; it has been considered in recent years in states including Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, but those were not implemented.

Forty-three states, plus Washington, D.C., prohibit anyone from carrying a gun onto the campus of a public school, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The only school district in the country believed to allow guns to be carried into public K-12 schools is the Harrold Independent School District in Texas, where the policy went into effect in 2007 and requires that those carrying the guns get training and use bullets that shatter when they hit a hard surface.

Harrold Superintendent David Thweatt told the Monitor that there haven’t been any instances when the guns have been used, but having the staff armed, he said, has been “comforting.”

Not everybody sees it that way, however.

Security experts and gun control advocates cited a number of dangers, including the possibility of a child finding a gun brought into school by a teacher and shots going awry in an emergency.

But why let common sense get in the way?

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