LZ Granderson says arming educators to fend off gunmen is going in the wrong direction.
STORY HIGHLIGHTSLZ Granderson: Texas governor Perry among those ok with concealed weapons in schools
Granderson commends Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for vetoing concealed weapons bill
A school official trying to take out a gunman more likely to hit kids or be killed, he says
Granderson: Trained police end up killing people by accident all the time
Editor’s note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — I wish I were surprised that Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t see a problem with concealed weapons in schools, but after watching his failed bid for the presidency, the truth is there’s very little that man can say that will truly surprise me.
“If you have been duly back-grounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun license-carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state,” Perry said at a tea party event held on Monday.
It seems his line of reasoning is in line with some of his gun-loving brethren who believe if teachers and principals are armed, tragedies like the one in Newtown would go away.
It’s as if he thinks “Rambo” is a documentary.
In a country with fewer than 350 million people but more than 310 million guns, we don’t need more of them. We need fewer. And when it comes to our schools, we don’t need guns at all.
So it’s very fortunate that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had the good sense to veto Michigan Senate Bill 59 on Tuesday. The proposed law would have allowed people with permits to carry concealed weapons and with extra training, to bring their guns to traditional “gun-free” zones such as day care centers and schools. And by “extra training,” the bill called for an additional eight hours and another 94 rounds on the firing range.
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It was approved the day before the shootings in Newtown.
On Monday — while Perry was encouraging guns in schools — a letter signed by all 21 superintendents in my county was sent to Gov. Snyder asking him to veto the bill because, unlike the gun-happy politicians who rammed the legislation through in a lame duck session, educators do not believe guns in schools are a good thing.
I have yet to hear a teacher who has survived a massacre advocate for guns in schools. In fact, the American Federation of Teachers — with its 1.5 million members — also sent a letter to Snyder opposing the bill, saying, “We should be doing everything we can to reduce the possibility of any gunfire in schools and concentrate on ways to keep all guns off school property.”
In moments of stress, typically the first thing to erode is our motor skills. So the argument that educators should be ready to dodge gunfire, avoid hitting students and take out a gunman so someone hundreds of miles away can buy military-grade weapons and ammunition for kicks is a very stupid argument to make. And yet, we heard elements of that reasoning soon after the movie theater killings in Aurora, Colorado. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert asked: “It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”
3 tragedies, 3 presidents, 13 yearsCould laws suppress U.S. gun culture?How well do Japan’s tough gun laws work?School allows teachers to carry gunsYes, Gohmert — because what a dark room filled with tear gas and panicked people needs is more guns.That makes as much sense as the lawmakers in Florida allowing concealed weapons in the state Capitol building in Tallahassee — and then needing to install alert buttons on the phones of every senator and staffer in case someone came in and started shooting up the place with one of those concealed weapons.
Gov. Snyder needed to veto SB 59, not because the mood of the country has shifted because of the Newtown tragedy, but because it was bad legislation to begin with. We don’t need — and most educators don’t want — guns in schools.
I said most because David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold school district in Texas, where employees have been allowed to carry guns in schools since 2008, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Nothing is 100%. But what we do know is that we’ve done all we can to protect our children.”
Also, on “Meet the Press,” former Secretary of Education William Bennett said, “I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing. … It has to be someone who’s trained, responsible. But, my God, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to.”
Let’s think about this: In August, nine bystanders in New York were wounded as a result of police gunfire — the police were trying to arrest a suspect connected with another shooting. In September, police in Houston shot and killed a double amputee in a wheelchair who was trying to stab an officer — with a pen.
Back in 2009, in Perry’s state of Texas, a military doctor opened fire at the Fort Hood Army post, killing 13 and wounding 30 others.
The victims were all professionals, surrounded by guns, and trained to handle — in Bennett’s words — “this kind of thing.” Why would anyone think teachers and principals could take a couple of weekend classes and do better than them?
It just doesn’t make sense. Having police patrol the area during school hours is fine. But allowing guns in school is simply counterintuitive to the kind of civilized society we want to live in and represent to the rest of the world.
Did you know, in addition to schools and day care centers, SB 59 would’ve allowed guns in hospitals, stadiums and churches?
I’m not anti-gun — I have one in my house. But I ask you: What kind of people feel the need to have a gun with them in church? I’ll tell you what kind: The kind who probably shouldn’t have one in the first place.
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The opinions in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.
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