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The Times
  • Would guns in schools protect students?

  • The thought of allowing firearms in schools brings a flurry of what-ifs.

    What if teachers, or anyone else, were allowed to legally carry guns in school buildings across the nation?

    Would it prevent the next schoolhouse massacre, or would it just heighten the concern that any firearm around children is a tragedy waiting to happen?


     

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  • The thought of allowing firearms in schools brings a flurry of what-ifs.
    What if a single teacher had been armed as Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School last year?
    And what if teachers, or anyone else, were allowed to legally carry guns in school buildings across the nation? Would it prevent the next schoolhouse massacre, or would it just heighten the concern that any firearm around children is a tragedy waiting to happen?
    The National Rifle Association responded to the mass shooting in Connecticut by doubling down on its own position: more guns, not fewer, provide true security.
    “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at the time.
    As these questions fuel the heated debate surrounding guns in schools, at least 18 states – such as New York – already have little-known loopholes in their laws that allow school districts to authorize an adult to carry loaded weapons on school grounds.
    But even after Kurt Myers’ deadly shooting spree in Herkimer County on March 13 prompted all the surrounding schools to go into lockdown, some parents still believe schools are no place for guns.
    “The second you start allowing weapons into schools, look at how many places have had disgruntled employees go after their bosses. Who’s to say all teachers are perfect? They’re not,” said Don Heath Jr., 36, whose three children were locked-down in the Mohawk School District when word spread that Myers was still on the loose after killing four people and injuring two others.
    “I believe that if guns were allowed in schools, there would be more fatalities than it would prevent,” including the possibility that a student might get his or her hands on the firearm, Heath said.
    Some states, such as Utah and now South Dakota, allow teachers to carry firearms, but many other states, such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, still prohibit any non-police officer from bringing weapons inside a public school building.
    While New York was the first state to react to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., by passing the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE ACT), the strictest gun control legislation in the country, other states are taking their time to consider what the proper response might be to such large-scale tragedies.
    “I think there’s almost a reflex of prejudice against arming teachers rather than a well-thought-out discussion regarding the ramifications and how do we do this,” said Professor Robert Cottrol, who teaches law at George Washington University. “They are not going to be able to prevent incidents like Sandy Hook simply by wishing them away.”
    Page 2 of 2 - One teacher in the Frankfort-Schuyler school district, Mark Spina, believes police and security officers are the only people who should be allowed to ever have a weapon on school grounds.
    “I’m a teacher and I know all the teachers in this district, and I don’t know if I would feel comfortable having my kids in a class with teachers who had a gun,” said Spina, who has been teaching for 19 years.
    “Some of these kids weigh 200 pounds, and if they want to get a gun from a teacher, they’re going to do it,” Spina said.
    In Oneida County, school districts such as Utica have never had anyone even ask for authorization to carry a gun in the schools. But should someone ask, district officials said they would be reluctant to allow anyone other than trained officers to arm themselves.
    Ava Cisson, who has four children in the Utica school district, said she would feel comfortable with some teachers being armed — as long as they are fully trained and keep the firearms locked up properly.
    “If something broke out in a school, I wouldn’t want the teachers to be completely defenseless,” Cisson said. “If the kids want to sneak a weapon in there, it’s easy, and the teachers can’t foresee all the ways they can get things in.”
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