The NRA’s Idea Might Just Work
By Harold Hutchison
ANNOUNCED UNDER FIRE
When the NRA announced the National School Shield Program on 21 December, it did so under fire. At least two protestors, one of them Medea Benjamin from Code Pink, interrupted NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s speech announcing their effort to secure our nation’s schools. The interruptions and the knee-jerk opposition to the NRA’s program tended to distract from what is the most important question: Will it work?
That is a question that never is asked of anti-gun extremists when they push for gun bans. But it should be. The fact remains, if there is to be a way to reduce the death tolls, armed guards – or even allowing concealed carry by administrators and/or teachers – may very well be a far more effective way to keep the body count down than restricting the capacity of magazines owned by law-abiding citizens.
There are at least four mass shootings at schools which were stopped by the presence of off-duty cops or armed citizens. When combined with mass shootings in other locations that were lessened by armed citizens, LaPierre’s comment that, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” seems to be a description of fact.
When a shoot struck at Pearl High School in 1997, assistant principal Joel Myrick, who was in the Army Reserve, retrieved a M1911 to hold the shooter until cops arrived. The body count at that school was held to two. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a shooter at a middle-school dance was halted when the owner of the restaurant held the shooter for police with a shotgun on the premises. In school shootings in 2001 and 2002, off-duty officers were able to hold down the body count to two and three, respectively.
Other mass shootings were limited by the actions of concealed-carry permit holders. In 1991, an armed citizen with a carry permit broke up a potential mass shooting at a Shoney’s in Anniston, Alabama. In 2005, an armed citizen engaged a mass shooter at a courthouse in Texas, holding the body count down to himself and the ex-wife of the shooter. In 2007, two mass shootings (one in Utah, one in Colorado) were broken up by armed citizens. In the same month as Newtown, two potential mass shootings (one in Texas, one in Oregon) were halted due to the intervention of armed citizens.
Even at Columbine High School, an armed school resource officer’s efforts to engage the shooters saved lives. Noted gun rights scholar David Kopel credited the deupty on the scene with saving two lives, while Victor Medina at Examiner.com argued that the deputy’s actions saved over a dozen lives. So armed resistance to a mass shooter, even early on, will keep the body count down.
HOW TO DO IT?
How could this be implemented in a manner that could maximize the benefits to the would-be victims of those who would carry out mass shootings? In areas outside schools, this has been done in states which either have “shall issue” laws regarding carry permits, or which have “constitutional carry” – to wit, there is a good chance that an armed law-abiding citizen will be present when a mass shooter starts his attack.
But how do we balance the need to protect schools with the fact that experience tells us that the Gun Free School Zones Act is horribly misguided? Ideally, any administrator or teacher with a valid concealed carry permit would be allowed to carry at school, and could act. It doesn’t take much to think that had Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung and counselor Mary Sherlach gone up against the shooter in Newtown with pistols of their own, that they could have stopped the shooter.
At this time, few states allow concealed carry permit holders in schools. This should be expanded. Perhaps the best option would be for states (or even cities of counties) to set up programs similar to the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, in which teachers would be deputized. They would receive addition training above and beyond normal concealed carry training, but in this case, it may be needed to make armed teachers and administrators in school palatable to the general public.
TIME TO ACT
Despite the evidence, anti-gunners are pushing semi-auto bans at the state and federal levels. Also among their goals are the creation of a “national database” on firearms sales, and placing many semi-autos under the 1934 National Firearms Act, which means that in essence, gun owners would have to be photographed and fingerprinted.
To stop this, it is important to get the facts out. Politely write letters to the editor and your lawmakers. But it is also important to not allow yourself to be isolated. Spread the word among family and friends. Also, sign up to receive information about the NRA’s National School Shield Program at http://nraschoolshield.com/. Getting the facts is important for the upcoming debates.
To add to your voice in passing laws that will enable good people to stop the next school shooter, and to enable your local teachers and administrators defend the students in your local school, you have to get involved. Go to http://membership.nrahq.org/ to join the NRA. Then go to https://www.nraila.org/get-involved-locally/forms/secure/frontlines.aspx to become part of NRA-ILA’s Frontlines to help secure our schools.