MICHIGAN — Bringing an apple for the teacher may be replaced by bringing ammo for the teacher if some lawmakers touched by recent mass school shootings get their way.
The aftermath of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has triggered all sorts of responses, including from the president.
Donald Trump was the first to openly suggest that teachers with a talent for marksmanship, should be armed in the classrooms. Trump is not far off the national trend. At least eight states, including Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming already allow approved teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus; another six are considering similar laws.
In Parkland, two of the victims were adults on staff as a football coach and athletic director. If either of these two heroes had been armed it might’ve made a difference saving their lives and the lives of the 15 students who perished in the melee.
In Michigan, a state with gun-free zones that includes schools, “there’s emerging legislation on school security that would exempt specially trained school personnel from the state’s concealed carry restrictions in pistol-free zones,” said Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake Township), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Current law prohibits concealed carry inside designated gun-free zones.
Spearheaded by Runestad, lawmakers are considering a three-bill package introduced just last week that’s designed to prevent school shootings from happening. The bill includes a high-tech proposal to place fingerprint activated gun safes at various points throughout school buildings that could only be accessed by staffers who have volunteered for the assignment, after having completed gun training and how to provide rapid response in high pressure emergency situations.
Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Williams Township), also offered a two-prong approach to his bill on teachers packing heat. The first allows teachers and other school employees who have CPLs (concealed pistol licenses) and additional training to carry their personal firearms at schools. The second would mandate districts to allow teachers with CPLs to carry in the classroom if they choose to do so.
Then there’s the “Red Flag” bill that focuses on an early warning system where family members or law enforcement could use a legal procedure for the temporary confiscation of guns from individuals undergoing a threatening mental health crisis.
On Friday, a shooting occurred at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan that resulted in two fatalities. It was not a “school shooting” per se because it involved a 19-year-old student allegedly opening fire on his parents in a campus dormitory. The suspect obtained the gun from the vehicle of his father who was a part-time cop in Illinois. An enacted red flag law would not prevent similar situations and the slow wheel of judicial procedure could hardly stop the staggering number of people with mental health issues in America from accessing guns.
An important question concerning the red flag bill (that’s currently stuck in committee) centers on who determines who’s sufficiently “mentally ill” to have their gun removed? A psychiatrist would be the best person to make such a determination, but the task would go to judges in already overburdened court systems.
These quick remedies are an attempt to be responsive to the mass shooting crisis in America, but they do not even scratch the surface of a long term plan for protecting this country’s greatest asset: our children.
Parents striving for personal safety should not have to feel or be so powerless, but buying bulletproof backpacks, tracking devices and doorstops — anything to give their children a fighting chance at surviving a gunman’s attack at school seem well intentioned , but iffy.
The best interim solution is investing in perimeter security to prevent school access for potential shooters, the way banks, courts and airports are designed. Parents must demand this from school superintendents.
Until the leadership in this country starts valuing America’s kids the way it does money and jewelry, the onslaught will continue and all parents can do is hope, pray or remove their treasured children en mass in favor of the safety of home schooling.
When districts start losing educational dollars because parents staunchly refuse to risk their kids to lax security, perhaps then they will wake up and go into action the way the vocal students and parents at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have done.