Saturday, August 16, 2008

Texas Teachers to be Armed

CNN reports on the developments in Texas to combat school shootings. The problem as they see it is this:

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in a story published Friday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Web site.

The solution as they see it is this:

Trustees approved the policy change last year, and it takes effect when classes begin this month. For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

This is one of the common arguments about the benefits of arming the "good guys" so they can protect us from the criminals. David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District, who is quoted above, seems to think the only way to deal with this problem is to resort to a combat mentality. The problem with that is we're not talking about the terrorists; we're not talking about an armed jihad. Isn't the typical school shooter a disturbed teenage boy who carries a few weapons to school and shoots up the place? Doesn't he get those weapons from the family arsenal? Wouldn't a law like this only exacerbate the situation? Shouldn't we address the real problem?

Part of the problem is that we have too many disturbed teenage boys. Increased awareness and mental health policies are what's needed. The rest of the problem is there are too many guns. I wrote about this before, which generated very interesting comments. Far from being dissuaded, I'm back to the original premise. There are too many guns and too easy access to them.


  1. Mike,

    First, I think this comment is an unfair accusation

    David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District, who is quoted above, seems to think the only way to deal with this problem is to resort to a combat mentality.

    Like most schools, this school district has had a bunker mentality, locking kids in, preventing easy access, etc

    Other security measures are in place, including one-way access to enter the school, state-of-the-art surveillance cameras and electric locks on doors

    It looks like they have already taken all the "reasonable" precautions that are recommended. This isn't a combat mentality anymore then having fire extinguishers is an arsonist mentality.

    Isn't the typical school shooter a disturbed teenage boy who carries a few weapons to school and shoots up the place?

    There has been a variety of shooters; does the age really matter? In all cases the criminal wants to create chaos, to be infamous for a high body count and then be killed. That is the factor that will cut short any attempt at this school district. The criminal doesn't want to die before making a splash.

    Study a few of the incidents; what do they all have in common? The shooting didn't stop until a firearm carried by someone else was on the scene. The worst shootings required the firearm to be brought to the location. Compare Virginia Tech and the New Life Church shootings. Which would you rather subject the children at the schools to?

    Not all of the criminals got their firearms from the family arsenal? By the way, how many firearms do I have to have to have an arsenal? 2, 3, 14? I would like to know so I can build up to that level?

    Yes, we should address the real problem and society should be doing a better job of addressing it. Let's get all the possible trouble makers on anti-depressants, mood control, anti-anxiety drugs, control their ADHD with Ritalin or Stratera. Oh, Wait!!!! We already have that!! In spades.
    This is an area where I have personal experience with my family. My son was not a model student, it was "strong suggested" that something be done. Of course they couldn't order him to be on drugs but the threat was that he would be suspended, punished until "something was done". So we had a doc prescribe ritalin, it made him edgy and irritable. Moved to Stratera, it didn't help.
    We lucked out and had a friend needing a test subject for her master's degree. Turns on that my son had short term memory deficits, NO DRUGS WOULD HELP. But the school district pushed us in that direction. We wound up getting the issue resolved but we are very involved parents; how many parents would have just gotten the scripts and not looked back?

    Want to address the real problem with crime? Great, let's talk about the percentage of single parent families out there. Absentee fathers. Let's talk about children having babies and continuing a cycle of dependency on welfare.
    Let's discuss the "war on some drugs". Let's talk about the revolving door prison system and justice system that allows plea bargaining for violent crimes. Let's talk about schools that are not any better than armed day care with no actual learning because of the students aren't expected to learn and grow.

    Let's talk about all those problems before we move onto a few teachers and staff carry concealed weapons.

  2. Bob, whatever we call the mentality at work here, bunker mentality or combat mentality, to me it just sounds ludicrous to encourage teachers to arm themselves. You say the thing these incidents have in common is that they all end when someone brings firepower in from outside. I say the thing they all have in common is disturbed individuals having easy access to weapons.

  3. Mike,

    You say they all have in common disturbed individuals with "easy" access to weapons.

    That begs the question, what can we do about it. This isn't theory, this isn't idle wondering. This is real life, Columbine, Virginia Tech, NIU, all prove this happens.

    Can we remove the "disturbed" individuals from society? Who gets to determine the definition of disturbed? What gets done with the individual? Warehoused in an institution?

    Short answer is, none will be removed from society. Half the homeless problem we have now is the mis-guided do-gooders emptying mental institutions in the hope of main streaming people. Guess what, it didn't work. Now no one can look out for the people that really need it. You want to deal with more disturbed individuals, start with what I mentioned before. At home.
    Deal with the social conditions of poor parenting, neglectful parenting, drug abuse, high drop out rate at school.

    The liberal approach to these issues have been dominant for decades, has it worked out?
    Welfare has produced generations dependent on the government. Social promotions, dumbing down school requirements have produced functional illiterates. The do what ever you want culture has produced generations of kids without knowing a stable family life.

    So, what do we do with the individual that is disturbed?

    Then what do we do about the "easy access" to weapons?

    This is the biggest pile of steaming bull stuffing that has been spread by the liberals in generations. My dad grew up being able to walk down his streets caring a 22 rifle or shotgun over his shoulder. Kids had hunting rifles in their cars on school grounds. People could stop at Sears, 5 and 10 stores, hardware stores and buy a firearm on the spot. No background check, no fingerprints, no waiting periods. And how many school shooting happened then? Care to name a school shooting that happened before 1980?

    It's bunk, firearms are harder then ever to buy, even for those not allowed to own firearms. The costs are higher, the paperwork shuffle is worse, etc.

    So, how do you stop "easy access"? Even more restrictions? Guess what, Britain has tried that, crime rates with firearms are climbing despite decades old strict gun control laws. This is an island nation and they can't keep control of firearms.

    How about closer to home? Chicago, Washington D.C--the murder capital of the world for many years. 30 year ban on firearms- guess what- still a firearm crime rate higher then the national average.
    All it did was leave the law abiding disarmed.

    Use some of the common sense that you value higher then the statistics that prove gun control doesn't work.
    How can it be done? Gun control is a failure because you can't put the genie back in the bottle. Any person with access to a hardware store can produce a firearm in a couple of hours. Even in prison, zip guns are being manufactured. How can you remove the guns from America without a door to door search and draconian restrictions on personal liberties.

    My kids are in school, one of the better school districts in the Dallas area. Guess what, they have armed officers on campus every day. The firearms are there already.
    Read about some of the schools in New York, Chicago, etc. Kids have to pass through metal detectors, use clear back packs, no lockers; and still guns are found.

    How does it make sense to trust the teachers to provide eduction, to turn on the next citizens; but not to trust them to protect our kids.

    Sorry to go off, the easy answers have been tried and found wanting. It's about time America started taking about it's streets, schools and homes from those that want to commit crimes. The only way that can be done is if every citizen takes responsibility for preventing/stopping crime and that includes our teachers.

  4. Mike,

    More details about the security precautions the school district has taken.

    Please note that LawDog is a Peace Officer in the state of Texas. Shouldn't his opinion of the issue carry weight?

  5. Or take the Dawson College Shooting. Heavy Canadian Gun Control, and a disturbed student who had full run of the place until police arrived.

    Bottom line, you speak a lot about "easy access" yet all these massacres you are concerned about only seem to happen in areas where guns are banned. I mean our society has the term "Going Postal" for post-office shootings (a federal gun-free zone) and of course "School Shootings". Yet Utah is without school shootings, despite the fact that state schools don't have any different weapons policy than the surrounding land, and why no massacres at Police stations, Gun Shows, NRA Conventions, or Army Bases?

    Why, in my whole stay in Vermont last week (a state with nearly ZERO state gun laws outside those for hunting) there wasn't a single shooting?

    Mike, I understand, and respect the emotional argument you make, but the bottom line is it just doesn't add up in real-world examples, making your argument irrational.

  6. if, despite all our interesting comments, you're still back to your original premise, might not that be a sign that your mind is closed?

    perhaps we should ask you to try and justify your contention, instead of us trying to defend our positions. either way, you're unlikely to be convinced you're wrong, but for us to examine and try to find fault with your position might generate a new and different set of interesting comments, rather than just rehashing the set we already had.

  7. Nomen, I definitely plead not guilty to a closed mind. I may be back to my original premise, but that's not because I haven't considered what you guys have been saying.

    I ask you to agree that, for example, 50% fewer guns in the country, would result in 50% fewer killings. Now, don't overanalyze it. I'm talking theoretically and generally, 50% across the board.

    If I can get some agreement from you on that, you know what's coming next. All of you would have to give up half your guns. Remember we're talking imaginary utopia now. Wouldn't you be willing to do that to bring about 50% fewer murders?

  8. Mike,

    I'll take the question for Nomen, if you don't mind.

    Sorry, but even theoretically your idea doesn't hold up.

    Remember, I mentioned before there are approximately 270 million firearms in America. Most are rifles which are seldom used in crimes.
    There are 65 million handguns in America approximately and less then 20,000 murders each year. That means about 0.03% of all handguns are used in murders or 0.007% of all firearms.

    Let's say each person who owns a firearm has two. Take one away from each and every person. The good guys who haven't committed any crimes still won't commit crimes.
    The criminals who are murdering people still have a firearm to slaughter the innocent!
    Have you reduced the crime rate any? Nope.

    Then also what is your theory on how to get rid of half the guns? Ask nicely for the gangbangers and drug dealers to turn them in?

  9. I ask you to agree that, for example, 50% fewer guns in the country, would result in 50% fewer killings. Now, don't overanalyze it. I'm talking theoretically and generally, 50% across the board.

    like bob, i won't agree with this. it's making the assumption that you can treat guns as neutral, random inciters of killings; that killings just randomly happen every X number of hours a gun is in the presence of people. sort of like how highway accidents randomly happen every X number of highway vehicle-miles driven.

    i disagree with that assumption. killings happen because killers decide to commit them, not because random pieces of metal and plastic happen to be lying around. to focus on the tool instead of the wielder is to ignore the intelligence, agency, and creativity of the people who, after all, are still considered important enough to throw in jail for committing those homicides. that's insulting to the humanity of the killers as well as intellectually inconsistent.

    this same problem underlies the fallacy of treating weapons as a public health problem. (disease agents truly are neutral, random killers in the way guns are not; hence, you can't treat guns as though they were an epidemic. the methods that work on one won't work on the other.) criminologists are not epidemiologists, and may well be the first professionals to tell you so --- why should epidemiologists pretend to do the job of criminologists, then?

    what's worse, even if i were to accept your basic assumption, i'd still have to accept your unstated assumption that we could reduce gun ownership by some given percentage across the board, in every sub-population of gun owners without statistically significant distinctions. how would you accomplish that? criminals will not willingly disarm, nor refrain from rearming if disarmed by force; the people who will disarm and remain disarmed are not killers, are not threats. it seems to me you're twice wrong here.

    (side note: blogger won't let me blockquote. this annoys me unreasonably.)

  10. Not to mention that " 50% fewer guns in the country, would result in 50% fewer killings." Implies that killing can only be done with the aid of a gun.

    England, again, is the best example. They essentially banned nearly all guns (Probably was more like 70% than 50%) and killings went UP! Of course the style of killings changed (not drastically as England didn't have nearly the same gun-to-person ratio as the US does) to knives being the #1 murder weapon "Hands and Feet" and "Steel Toe Boots" were in the top 5.

    Of course now the black market has caught up with the criminal demand and Guns are again the #1 in UK.

    Its also only fair to note that Scotland has been leading the Western World in murders and crimes for the better part of 20 years. This can go and explain the US problem with murder and can explain how Canada, with their plurality of guns, their lesser state of crime (but all nations have their nasty spots)

    I would propose that since 90-99% of all of these gun crims and murders are linked to gangs, I'd say eliminate 50% of the gangs in the us I'd bet that we'd see as much as a 70% reduction in Killing.

    How does that sit with you, Mike?

  11. Mike,

    Is this one of the guns you want to remove from society?

    LAKE LYNN, Pa. -- An 85-year-old great-grandmother from Lake Lynn, Fayette County kept an alleged burglar at bay using a .22-caliber pistol.

    According to police, a 17-year-old suspect was attempting to burglarize Leda Smith overnight.

    That's when Smith grabbed her gun and told the teen that she would shoot him if he moved, police said.

    "I had the gun on him before he turned around and said, 'you've had it,' " Smith told Channel 11-News.

    According to police, Smith ordered the boy to dial 911 and then gave him some advice.

    "Dial 911 and don't attempt to throw the phone at me, or do anything bad or i'll just shoot you," Smith said.

    When police arrived, they took the teen into custody.

    Charges have been filed against the boy and an alleged accomplice.

    What do you think would have happened had she not walked out with that firearm?

  12. All right, you guys beat the hell out of me with this argument. First I want to say, I loved the granny from PA story. That's definitely not one of the guns I'd have made disappear.
    Bob, you made a great point about the criminals who have two or more guns. Nomen, your description of the old "guns don't kill people, people kill people," was pretty convincing. You're right, I shouldn't consider guns as "random inciters of violence." And Weer'd, you gave me the coup de grace with that reference to English murders going up even when they had to use knives or steel toed boots.

    Give me a day or so to rephrase my question. I believe there's got to be a way to communicate what I'm thinking, that there are just too many guns and arming more citizens cannot be the answer. But for the time being, this round definitely goes to you guys.

  13. Never somthing to be ashamed of to be thinking! Great to see you mulling over the issue and revising your thought....and keeping them your own.

    Still I gotta snicker with your references to fighting in this ("coup de grace" et al) as it really isn't so. We aren't fighting at all, we're all just working together to help eachother understand how we feel about this very tricky issue (Hey its even tricky for a gun-nut like me, as I said before there is definetly a dark side to the gun issue...I just think the light side is MUCH bigger and much more powerful when people trying to "Help" don't muddle it up, like in the UK)

    I greatly look forward to your revised point, and will give my thoughts and feelings on it when it arrives!

    Isn't it grand where a group of people with vastly different backgrounds and views can come together and have such great and interesting conversation?

  14. Mike,

    I agree with Weer'd about this, it's not a fight but a debate.

    We can disagree without being disagreeable. You've kept an open mind and I've tried to do the same. It's a matter of education really. I started off neutral to banning on this issue when I first started thinking about it. I rapidly came to the conclusion it's not gun violence that we have to worry about, but violence in general and the conditions that create those that are violent.

    I appreciate the opportunity to have someone express their thoughts and opinions eloquently. I am coming to a deeper understanding of how those against firearms view the issue.

    Thanks for putting up with our interminable discussions. I, for one, enjoy the debate.