Commentary: It's time to arm school personnel

The echoes from the gunfire had scarcely subsided at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the hysterical pleadings from the gun haters for ever-tougher gun control laws reached a crescendo. Lamentable, but predictable. It happens every time somebody goes off the deep end and commits mass murder using a gun. But while they're hysterically banging the "take the guns" drum, let's take a look at the real problem and one prospective solution.

Consider this. Sandy Hook was a "gun-free zone." The Cinemark movie theater in Aurora, Colo., was a gun-free zone. The Virginia Technical Institute was a gun-free zone. And, surprisingly, Fort Hood, Texas, was a gun-free zone.

Doesn't it seem that mass murderers tend to select gun-free zones when they're in the mood to kill a bunch of people? Had there been an armed citizen, trained in the use of his or her weapon, at that school, or in that movie theater, or at that college, or in America's largest military installation, doesn't it seem likely, as statistics indicate, that the number killed would have been severely minimized? And, had that been a possibility, doesn't it seem likely that the killers might have thought twice before selecting those targets of opportunity?

Should we, as the National Rifle Assn.'s chief executive suggests, position an armed guard in every school in America? Or do we begin to repurpose our society away from trying desperately to pry guns out of the hands of lawful Americans who use them for self-defense, hunting and target shooting, and instead try to identify those mentally unbalanced citizens who are likely to become mass murderers before they can act? With 20,000 gun laws on the books, one could reasonably ask, is the problem with not enough laws or with unidentified deranged people?

One hundred million Americans who own 270 million guns didn't shoot anybody yesterday. But have one insane kid shoot a bunch of children and the gun-hating loons once again try to deny fellow citizens their Constitutional rights.

It is estimated that 4,000 times a day in America citizens using lawfully-owned weapons prevent a crime, or at least minimize the negative impacts of crimes in progress. Why isn't that being reported in the mainstream media?

So what's my plan, you ask? Offer teachers and administrators free gun safety and proper handling courses for those who wish to participate, on a purely voluntary – and confidential – basis. Then provide appropriate weapons for each, and all licensing, permits and certification necessary for legal concealed carry, on their persons only.

We should offer monetary stipends to each participant as adjunct safety officers as an inducement to participate.

If we can trust them to teach our kids, can't we trust teachers to also protect our kids, especially volunteers with proper training? The result? A less attractive target of opportunity.

CHUCK CASSITY lives in Costa Mesa.

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