Are Guns in Schools a Good Idea? (plus Tweets)

The tweets of President Trump, the NRA, and many others are once again saying that what schools need is armed guards. Stoneman Douglas High School had a “Resource Officer.” He did nothing during the massacre. He was seen standing outside while there was firing going in inside. His job was to intervene in such situations. He did not.

He has apparently resigned.

This is the problem with these positions. No one knows how they will react in an active shooter situation until it occurs. No amount of training can fix that, although it can help of course. A teacher from Stoneman Douglas was speaking on CNN on Thursday evening (US time). She voted for Trump, is a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, and thought that teachers with guns might be a good thing before the tragedy last week. This experience changed her mind. Staff from Columbine and Sandy Hook were on the show too, and felt the same. They also commented that in an emergency, they would be too busy ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of their students to also consider chasing down a shooter.

The Stoneman Douglas teacher realized that if she’d had a gun that, among other things, the risk of accidentally shooting a student in the mayhem was a real possibility.

Gun Safety cartoonAll the school staff also thought that it was inevitable that children would get hold of the guns in classrooms, no matter how securely they were held. That, of course, is a recipe for disaster.

Even the best trained experts get it wrong. The incident in front of the Empire State Building in 2012 where NINE bystanders were shot by Police before they shot the suspect is a good example. In another, two women were shot before police got their man – with a taser.

It began as just another bizarre scene in the Times Square area, a disoriented man lurching amid traffic, seemingly throwing himself into the path of oncoming cars.

The police arrived and the crowd grew. The hulking man continued on, ignoring the officers’ commands while eluding capture. Then the man reached into his pants pocket, withdrawing his hand as if it were a gun, the police said, and pretended to shoot at some of the officers.

Two officers opened fire, discharging a total of three bullets. They missed the man, but struck two women nearby, including one who had been leaning against her walker; the bullet wound to her leg sent her tumbling to the ground. Other officers rushed toward the suspect; a sergeant used a Taser on the man, and he was quickly subdued.

The New York Police are well trained, experienced, and have been in such situations multiple times. This is but two examples of multiple situations where they got it wrong. How would it be for school staff being expected to suddenly step up in an emergency?

Many in the US seem to have a fantasy that they will be the hero in a situation where they shoot a gun-wielding killer with their concealed weapon. They project this fantasy onto others and think gun-wielding teachers is a great idea. The reality is the most likely scenario is actually that the fantasy hero will be one of the first to be killed. The killer already has his gun out. As soon as he (it’s almost always a he) sees someone reaching for a concealed weapon, he will turn his gun on the fantasy hero. The fantasy hero will be shot before they have a chance to raise their weapon.

Gun Safety cartoonWayne La Pierre, the NRA’s top lawyer, spoke at CPAC this week. He was advocating guns in schools. Again. You can imagine the sales that will arise from that – it would be a huge money spinner for the weapons industry. His logic was that if armed protection is so bad, it should be taken from the White House, government, and Hollywood. As always, that’s too simplistic.

There are things that can and should be done to make schools harder targets, and some schools have done them. Metal detectors are in many inner-city schools in the US. There are ways to design schools to make them safer too, even in wide open parts of the country.

Identifying people who have the potential to carry out such acts and getting them the help they need before it’s too late is also important. By all accounts, everyone has known the Parkland killer had issues for a long time – everyone except the people who had taken him in. That’s an appalling situation, and shouldn’t have happened.

But do children really need to live with the knowledge that some of their teachers may be carrying a gun? Or that the locked box in the corner of their classroom has a killing machine inside? Children should feel safe in their school, and that doesn’t just mean physically safe. There are stories that young children playing pretend games where they shoot each other are suspended from school, but now some want to tell them it’s okay for their teacher to have a gun?

In my opinion there are only two reasons that the NRA is supporting guns in schools.

1. It will make money for those that are really supporting them – the weapons industry.
2. Getting government to focus on that will mean no changes to any other gun regulations – things which would be far more effective at addressing the issue. (I suggested some in my post on 19 February 2018.)

Gun Safety cartoonI just need to say too that I’m sick of people suggesting that the problem isn’t guns. Instead, they say, the real problem is mental health, movies, video games, and lack of respect for religion. However, in other Western countries we have similar levels of mental health, we watch the same movies, play the same video games, and most of us have much less respect for religion than in the US. The difference between the US and the rest of the world is the easy access to guns.

Yes, your constitution (according to your Supreme Court since 2006) guarantees you the right to own a gun. However, that doesn’t mean reasonable limits cannot be put on that right. You have the right to vote too, but only once per election, and convicted criminals lose that right. (In fact don’t you take that right away forever in some states following a criminal conviction?) You have the right to freedom of speech, but not to shout fire in a crowded theatre.

Gun safety cartoonIt is perfectly reasonable to place limits on rights for the sake of one’s fellow citizens, and most USians agree more needs to be done to keep guns away from those who misuse them. It seems the main reason many politicians don’t do anything about it is the amount of money they get from the gun lobby, and the influence of gun lobby advertising on voters.



There aren’t many tweets today I’m sorry. I ran out of time.


Political Tweets

Very true.


Good point.
(Via Ann German.)


Mueller Time Tweets

Just for fun, a predictive tweet. I think Trump did illegal stuff in relation to his business. I doubt that he personally engaged in collusion, though I think his campaign did and he was probably aware of it. It will not surprise me if he gets away with all the criminal stuff, perhaps in exchange for resigning the presidency. But then Pence would be president, and that has the potential to be worse domestically, though it will be better for the rest of the world because Pence is at least stable.


Gun Safety Tweets

First an update. You may remember that my last post included a tweet from Dinesh D’Souza where his was displaying his complete assholery. The wonderful Pliny the Inbetween has done a cartoon that says it all really:

Cartoon from The Far Corner Cafe

(Click cartoon to go to source.)


This is a question I keep asking myself.


Ted Nugent is a paedophile and draft dodger (rather than a principled conscientious objector).  Wayne La Pierre is probably a murderer. These are the sort of people the NRA has on its board. As for that conspiracy theory that Nugent is promoting, you know who else liked similar tweets? Donald Trump Jr.
(Via Ann German.)


This seems to be how many interpret the 2nd Amendment.
(Via Ann German.)


Un-effing-believable. News story: ‘Florida House declares a public health risk — from pornography (not guns)


This is excellent.
(Via Ann German.)


Religion Tweets

This video could equally be in the Gun Safety Tweets section. I thought I’d heard all the crazy theories, but I underestimated the extent of the religious delusions of some. You will not believe what you are hearing in the video in this tweet.


I follow the Atheist Pig on Tumblr, but I almost never look at Tumblr, so it took Linda Calhoun to alert me to this. Of course, I had to re-post it on Twitter.


Environment Tweets

A friend of mine from high school posted this on Facebook. Isn’t it a cool gadget?!

Space Tweets

Very cool!


Marine Tweets

Octopuses are still cool!


Other Animals Tweets

Get them while they’re young and anything can be friends …


Dog Tweets

Five cuties …


Cat Tweets

This cat burglar made me LOL!


Awww …


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34 Responses to “Are Guns in Schools a Good Idea? (plus Tweets)”

  1. rickflick says:

    Nice write up on the gun issue. There seems to be a lot of momentum now for some legislative movement. Maybe some small proposal will be passed. Nothing sweeping is likely I don’t think. A small measure could lead to something more down the road.

    • Thanks Rick. I note that the only move the NRA is saying they endorse is better background checks. My cynical side says they know getting agreement on this will be nigh on impossible, and nothing will happen.

      • nicky says:

        This second amendment thing is weird. There is nothing but some mind-boggling, ridiculous SCOTUS (especially under the despicable gnome Mr Scalia) decisions that completely negated the “well regulated militia” part of the second amendment.
        The idea of arming teachers is, of course, insane (it is like a frog in the beak of a stork thinking that it would be a good idea to creep in a bit deeper in order to get out). Everybody with more than two brain cells knows that it is insane, nevertheless, you elaborated it quite clearly. Kudos to you.
        “Why is it so many USians can’t work out that the difference between the number of gun deaths in their country versus the rest of the world is the number of guns?” That is a pertinent question. I guess most USians do, but their voice gets drowned in the gun-nut and NRA cabal. I know, it only shifts the question, why is this cabal so influential?

        • Money to politicians and money in advertising. And the money doesn’t come from members, it comes from the gun industry. The NRA are, imo, a lobby group for the gun industry. I do not believe their membership numbers, and the clip in the tweet confirms what I have always thought. People get automatic membership when they buy a gun from any store allied with the NRA, and they never purge their lists. I bet there are a whole lot more dead people on the NRA membership list than voter rolls.

      • nicky says:

        Again, arming teachers (or select some that are to be armed) is inane.
        A real combat expert, Brandon freedman, fully agrees with you.

  2. Randall Schenck says:

    You make the case very well that arming people or teachers in schools is a really stupid idea. I guess we need to do the same in churches, at all rock concerts and every other event you can think of. Yes, lets all look like NYC on an average day.

    One thing we can all be assured of is that idiot president will buy into any idea as long as it is really stupid. He never sees a stupid idea he does not like. If we were seeking out someone who knew less about guns than this guy, you could not find him. He probably remembers watching old shows on Gunsmoke and Mr. Dillon.

    In the real world of combat and war it is known by those who analyse this stuff, a percentage of trained soldiers going into combat for the first time do not perform well. Even after lots of training, when thrown into their first experience against an armed enemy they often freeze up. Often do not shoot their weapon or even remember what they did. And some of those who did shoot did not hit anything. The shock of being under fire does different things to different people. The fact that you can hit something at the firing range where no one is shooting at you, does not tell you anything about performance under fire.

    The average person with some training and practice at shooting a hand gun cannot hit anything past 25 yards. It is far more likely that some of these teachers will shoot themselves or some of the students. The worst weapon to put into the hands of the public is a handgun and it is the most dangerous of all weapons out there. If you know anything about guns you must know this. And by the way, all semi-automatic guns are far more dangerous than manually operated or single shot guns. That is why dads with kids always start out junior with a single shot rifle or shot gun – it is much safer.

    Real hunters do not use assault type rifles for hunting of any kind. They know there are far better and more accurate weapons for hunting. This type of gun is a modern invention by the manufacturers to make lots of money and also kill lots of people. This also has nothing to do with the second amendment anymore than arming teachers has to do with safety.

    • On CNN last night former CIA and FBI agents were talking about what happens under fire. They shoot thousands of rounds in practice to get the muscle memory, and achieve an accuracy on the range of 70-90%+. Under fire, even with their training, that drops to less than 20%. And Trump expects teachers to do a bit of training because “they’ll love the bonuses” and be proficient? I wish I’d known that stat before I wrote the post.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Yes, and the military did research on this all the way back to WWII. Remember they sent lots of guys in with cameras running to get all that war footage we still see today. They know what happens to soldiers going into combat for the first time and all the training in the world does not replace the real thing. In the movies everyone performs just like the script says and some people believe.

        The reason the military uses weapons like M-16s and hard jacket bullets is the type of fighting they expect to do. Mostly close in and fill the air with bullets. They are like mowing down trees in a forest. The real shooters or snipers don’t use those weapons and neither do hunters. They are junk and only useful for mass murder in a close environment. All I can say is 2nd Amendment, my butt.

        In America we make sure the mass murderer is the best equipped mass murderer in the world.

        • In one of those videos in Peter’s comment it’s pointed out that the accuracy rate of trained personnel falls to 3% in combat. That’s why they need guns like AR 15s – they’d never hit what they’re aiming at with a single-shot rifle or handgun unless they’re right up close.

          That last sentence of yours is so true, and so chilling.

  3. Yakaru says:

    As someone (in Germany) who works with kids with behavioral problems, I am of course familiar with cases where a kid says he wants to shoot people. In fact such behavior has occurred in the past days, and I am glad that in the first instance all I need to focus on is immediate consequences for such behavior (school suspension, counseling by specialists) and long term strategies to help the kid grow up into at least a half decent adult.

    By the time such a child is grown up, they will likely have spent some time in a clinic, and thereby be banned from ownership of a sports or hunting rifle. If not, and they do somehow manage to qualify for a license, any behavior that is associated with sudden psychological problems, like domestic violence or even DUI will immediately lead to their license being revoked and their gun removed.

    As an added bonus, this means that when police don’t worry about getting shot during routine police work, and consequently tend not to shoot citizens. (About 500 people have been shot by police in Germany since 1949, and that includes a dozen years where terrorists were assassinating civilians and state officials. The same number get shot by US police every 6 months.)

    • It’s a similar situation here. Such a kid couldn’t get a licence to own a gun from the police, and therefore couldn’t buy one. Issues with drugs, alcohol, domestic violence etc are all things that stop you getting a licence. Background checks here include interviews. Also, you have to attend an approved gun safety course. (I’m pretty sure these are free, but another NZer can correct me if I’m wrong.)

  4. Peter says:

    I agree with Heather’s analysis.

    In the same vein:
    Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she had held a telephonic town hall on Wednesday night in which she discussed the proposal with 60,000 educators.
    “The response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach,” Ms. Weingarten said. “We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.”
    The FBI’s analysis of active shooters between 2000 and 2013 has another relevant data point: “Law enforcement suffered casualties in 21 (46.7%) of the 45 incidents where they engaged the shooter to end the threat.” These are people trained to do this kind of thing full time, and nearly half were wounded or killed.

    David Frum: Video: When Gun Owners Become Like Hypocritical Hippies [If it feels good, then do it] (1:30 mins)

    • Thanks for those links Peter. They’re all excellent. I’d seen part of the ABC video before, which helped form some of my opinions on this subject. I’ll probably do a follow up post and include these links so those who don’t read the comments get the opportunity to see them to – they deserve as wide an audience as possible.

    • nicky says:

      Excellent links, thanks.

  5. nicky says:
    I just wanted to post chart no 6, but I can only post the whole page (hope you’ll forgive me). Chart 6 says it all (despite some outliers): more guns = more gun deaths.

  6. nicky says:

    Ali Veshi makes some good points, but I cannot fathom this Russ Dizdar video. What are they getting at? I do not really understand what they are saying. Is it demons? or what?
    Some good cartoons, and I love that American squirrel! Reminds me of my boys posing with (toy) guns: want to take our guns? Come and make our day! Mental age of gun-nuts (they were 3 and 6, now 4 and 7, the older one is starting to grow out of it).

    • They think that the “deep state” ‘s agents have the ability to project themselves into the bodies of others. When they do that they can control that person’s body. So the young man who killed in Parkland was in effect possessed by a deep state agent. The motive? To make people more inclined to agree with laws to take away guns from people like them. They also think these deep state agents who can possess bodies deliberately target conservative Christian Republicans to make them look bad. They think there are hundreds of these agents with the ability to possess people – take over their bodies from a distance (they get there via astral travel) and make them do bad things against their will.

      The deep state agents, they think, are demonic agents. Obama and Hillary are also demonic agents. They are, in their imagination, supporting this deep state programme.

      • nicky says:

        What is this ‘deep state’? Where aer thesed demons? did you not miss the /s? And even then, I honestly have difficulty to follow the argument

        • The “deep state” is as imaginary as demons. They’re sort of the secular Illuminati. They’re buried deep and in government and control the US from positions inside it.

          And it doesn’t make sense except in the tortured minds of conspiracy theorists. There’s no logical argument to follow. There are just random imaginings that only make sense to minds that don’t need to reconcile conflicting data. Their ideas have little of no relation to reality.

      • ratabago says:

        It sounds like they watched The Matrix one too many times while influenced by Dubious Substances(TM)– possibly something involving a lot of methylated spirits. It also sounds like, all evidence to the contrary aside, they have a very shallow imagination. If there are hundreds of such immensely powerful “Agents” out there who are dedicated to enacting a Liberal Agenda why would they waste time making Authoritarian Christians look bad? Why not just split their time between making major Republican donors donate all their money to the Democrats and to Liberal Causes, making Republicans in Congress and the Senate vote for anything the Democrats proposed, and making the Leaders of the NRA and CEOs of Armament Manufacturers publicly confess to crimes against Humanity?

        Much scattered Capitalisation to help those who support such Loopy Theories follow my Argument (I’m feeling snarky today).

        • Or why don’t they progressively inhabit the bodies of GOP voters in swing states to make them vote Democratic? With early voting, they could get them to post their ballots in, so it wouldn’t have to even be done on election day.

  7. Peter says:

    Gun regulation is simply a public health matter. We know other cases were corporate interests and public health have collided in the past (and keep being in conflict):
    tobacco, pharmaceuticals, junk food producers, etc.
    The modern playbook of marketing (and defending) dangerous products was written by the tobacco companies, and every other company producing dangerous products draws on the strategies developed by cigarette makers.
    Listening to Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, reminds me of how tobacco companies have defended their products – with lies, lies, and then some more lies, and the financing of political campaigns.*
    It seems this time there will be some action tightening gun regulation. But it’s pretty clear that the number of guns in circulation has to be drastically reduced to decrease gun deaths in the US. In other words, there is a long way to go.
    Well, Churchill said “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”
    Sad to think of all the people who will still die before Americans come to their senses. I’m just glad I don’t live there anymore (even though in many other respects the US is a good country).

    See “In their own words – an epoch of deceit and deception” in: Tobacco: Science, policy and public health. Oxford University Press, 2010
    More generally:
    Nicholas Freudenberg: Lethal but legal: corporations, consumption, and protecting public health. Oxford University Press, 2014

    • nicky says:

      It was not just the tobacco companies (albeit a good example).
      What about the fight against leaded petrol? Clair Cameron Patterson made a most beautiful case there, and lived to see it vindicated.
      What about the washing of hands before obstretic interventions? Ignatz Semmelweiss is the unsung and tragically murdered hero there, he did not live to see his vindication by Pasteur 15 years later.
      And what about Global Warming? The fossil fuel industry has quite a few ‘scientists’ on it’s payroll.
      The NRA’s denial of the facts fits perfectly in that pattern.

  8. Jenny Haniver says:

    Wayne Laoierre’s un-spayed female attack dog, Dana Loesch, must not be overlooked in all this, especially in light of her most recent heartless and vicious fulminations at the CPAC conference. An excellent profile here:

    • Before she became the spokesperson for the NRA I used to see Loesch on Fox News quite regularly. I found her dreadful. She was one of those who threw out so many false claims and assertions into everything she said you couldn’t keep up. A Gish Galloper.

      Loesch asks what rights do men have that women don’t. The first one that comes to mind is men have the right to be fat and/or ugly and still be judged by their political savvy/mind/ability/talent etc rather than their appearance. It’s getting better, but there’s still a huge double standard. Even in sports where you think it would matter the least, it’s the most attractive e.g. tennis player that gets the sponsorship deals ahead of the best one.

      • Jenny Haniver says:

        This a.m. (Sunday in the US), I was exceedingly glad to see this — David Hogg, a survivor directly addresses Loesch’s disgusting remarks.

        I find it sad and worrisome, not to mention cruelly ironic, that in the midst of all the right-wing clamor for more guns and guards in schools (effectually turning them into prisons for students), not just one, but I hear that three armed security personnel of some sort were on site when the shooting occurred and stayed outside. Not sure if it’s a direct quote from Scott Peterson, but I think he said something like he did his duty by “securing the perimeter”.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson says:

    What US schools need is not the untested and unintuitive idea of armed guards. What the nation need is a tested solution that progressive nations have sucessfully tested, gun reform:

    ““Dear US friends: here’s Australian mass shootings 1979-2016 (via @SimonChapman6). See if you can figure out when we passed our gun reforms,” Andrew Leigh, an Australian parliamentary member, wrote in a tweet on Monday.

    Leigh linked to a study published by the JAMA network last July that analyzes the drop in mass shootings after gun reform laws were past in Australia in which the government banned semiautomatic rifles and pump-action firearms while also starting a firearm buyback program.

    The report found that after gun control passed in 1997, no fatal mass shootings occurred on Australian soil and there was also a “significant” downward trend for total firearm deaths. Before such laws were passed, Australia had faced 13 fatal mass shootings between 1979 and 1996.”

    [ ]

    Re “a cool gadget”, it may be if you are low on money. But locally I see specialized and presumably safer and convenient carts that runners push respectively bikers pull instead of the walkers generic children carts.

  10. nicky says:

    So, what can be done? The best, of course would be to bring the Second Amendment back to it’s original meaning: the context of a well regulated militia to defend the country, but that appears not really feasible now (due to some ridiculous and inane SCOTUS decisions).
    There appears widespread and non-partisan support for some measures (from the Vox article):
    1 – Preventing the mentally ill from acquiring guns.
    2 – A no-fly listing is to be a simultaneous no-gun listing.
    3 – Background checks on private sales and gun shows.
    4 – A special permit for carrying concealed guns.
    There are other measures that are only relatively partisan, where Dems are overwhelmingly in favour and Reps about evenly split:
    5 – A ban on semi-automatic, high velocity rifles (such as the R-15)*.
    6 – Creating a federal database to track gun sales**
    7 – Banning high capacity magazines.
    8 – increasing waiting periods for buying guns.
    And then there are measures where the partisan gap is wide (40% or more)
    9 – A ban on teachers arming themselves in K-12 schools
    10- A ban on concealed carry in more places.
    There are, of course, other measures thinkable, such as a buy-back policy, although in the US it will have to be on a voluntary basis, I guess.
    Can anybody think of other measures that might have some more or less bi-partisan support, and hence be feasible?
    I guess that a ban on hand-guns is not feasible in the US at this stage (see the inane SCOTUS decisions mentioned earlier).

    * These high velocity gunshot wounds are absolutely horrifying, due to their high energy they cause cavitation and tremendous tissue destruction, in a wide area around the actual trajectory of the bullet.
    **With our modern IT technology it would not be too difficult to extend that to all gun ownership over a few years. And to add a shell & bullet profile, which is as unique as a fingerprint, so most bullets can be traced back to a specific gun.

    I do not think that implementing these measures will solve the US gun-death problems, but it will most certainly help, more than thoughts and prayers or arming teachers.

    • nicky says:

      Oh yes, I forgot: lifting the ban on CDC’s to investigate the health impact of guns.

    • nicky says:

      Interesting and counterintuitive note on the point most are agreeing with (point 1 in the measures above), there appears -surprisingly- to be no significant relationship between established mental illness and gun violence. Still, despite that, I would not feel comfortable with a schizo having an AR-15 at his (her) disposal. But then, I would not feel comfortable with anybody walking around carrying an AR-15, unless in the context of a very well regulated militia . 🙂 And note, I would not consider all US police forces well regulated. 🙁

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