Guns, Schools and Common Sense


Why not have self-defense weapons in schools?

The fact that the media and the anti-gun lobby is treating this suggestion by the NRA president, Wayne LaPierre, as ridiculous on its face is an indication of their paranoid ideology and not fact. Michael Moore opined that Americans buy guns because “we’re a very frightened people“. Somehow, I’ve never felt frightened with a shotgun in my hand – but what is certain – the American political left is absolutely paralyzed with a fear of guns and those of us who bitterly cling to them.

Guns have become personified as inherently evil, so any practical or logical thought or debate is apparently impossible.

Let’s look at some rational facts about general safety around campuses, both in public and private K-12 schools and in  colleges and universities in the US.

According to this ABC report, the total “mass” school shooting fatalities over the past 15 years, including the Sandy Hook tragedy, stands at 91 victims. This number does not count fatalities outside the schools but does include school employees and teachers. For example, in the case of Sandy Hook, it does not include the suicide of Adam Lanza or his murder of his mother, Nancy. See the table below:

School Shootings (1997-2012)
Location Year Fatalities
Heath High School, West Paducah, KY 1997 3
West Side Middle School, Jonesboro, AR 1998 5
Thurtson High School, Springfield, OR 1998 2
Columbine High School, CO 1999 12
Red Lake Indian Reservation, MN 2005 7
Amish Schoolhouse, Lancaster County, PA 2006 3
Virginia Tech 2007 32
Chardon High School, Ohio 2012 3
Sandy Hook 2012 24
Total Years/Fatalities/Fatalities per year 15 91 6.1

Pursuing the calculations further to generate a relatable statistic, we looked at total K-12 public and private enrollment (from data at the National Center for Education Statistics) and the total students enrolled in public and private colleges and universities (also from the NCES but found in condensed form here) and discovered that there are an estimated 72.2 million students that are attending classes in one of these academic settings each day in America.

We then went to the National Fire Protection Association to determine the fatality rates for fires in school or dorm settings and found that based on their data:

In 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 3 civilian deaths, 38 civilian fire injuries, and $20.9 million in direct property damage. Note: Dormitories include school, college and university dormitories; fraternity and sorority houses; monasteries; bunk houses; barracks; and nurses’ quarters.

The statistical table below shows that the average fatalities over the past 15 years in so called “mass school shootings” is 6.6 fatalities a year or 0.00126 fatalities per 1000 students.

Total US Students/Shooting Fatality Rates/Campus Fire Fatalities
K-12 Enrollment (Public)    49,300,000
K-12 Enrollment (Private)      5,400,000
College and University    17,500,000
Total    72,200,000
15 year Fatality Rate/1000 students          0.00126
2012 Fatality Rate/1000 students          0.00037
Campus and Dormitory Fires (2005-2009) 3840
Occurrence rate per year (2005-2009) 768
Mass School Shootings (1997 – 2012) 9
Occurrence rate per year (1997-2012) 0.6

One might say that 6.6 per year is twice the rate of fire fatalities – and it is – but consider this: fires also happen at an annual rate of over 1,200 times higher than shootings. Why are there so few fatalities? Because in every dorm, building and classroom there are several layers of fire protection – including alarms, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers.

And yet with all these layers of protection, we still had an average of 3 students killed per year.

In our schools the protection against the next Adam Lanza, Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold amounts to a sign that says “This Is A Gun Free Zone”.

We shouldn’t be so ignorant or afraid to entertain the possibility that there will be another attempt to attack a school where a shooter knows that they will be met with token opposition at best. What would stop a terrorist attack in the mode of the Beslan School Massacre that occurred in North Ossetia (Russian Federation) in 2004 that left 380 people dead? Why is that so unthinkable in the US?

To my thinking – it isn’t. I am actually surprised that some insane terrorist group hasn’t tried to hit a “soft” target like a school or a shopping center yet.

We don’t need an arsenal at our schools. We don’t need a cadre of trained marksmen who can shoot a 2 inch group at a thousand yards. What we do need and can have are a few trained personnel with access to close order, defensive weapons like a couple of simple twelve gauge pump action or semi-automatic tactical shotguns and a will to use them.

While I am humbled and proud of the teachers in Newtown who shielded those innocent children with their own bodies, I am just a angry that they had absolutely no chance of survival without some way to fight back. Why would we ever want to place that kind of responsibility for human life into a person’s hands without at least assuring them that they can be something more than a sacrificial lamb?

Yet we place every teacher, administrator and school employee in that position every school day.


Tactical shotguns are not complicated. These are very simple weapons to use. You don’t need extensive training or expert marksmanship skills. If you have the skills to point and click on your computer, you have the skills to fire these weapons. You just point the open end at the target and pull the trigger.

These weapons are also very easy to secure while giving quick access to them. A lockable wall rack (no different than a wall case for a fire extinguisher), a biometric trigger lock and a chamber safety plug would allow three layers of security with the weapon in and out of the rack…and it would allow the weapons to be stored with rounds in the magazines to be chambered immediately with a quick rack or the push of a button to chamber a round and ready the weapon for firing. Once a round is chambered, then the integral safety built into every modern weapon provides protection against accidental discharge until the target is acquired.

Worried about leathality? Load the magazine with a round of rubber bullets or #9 shot before going to 00 buckshot. Give them one round to get their attitude adjusted and if they don’t pay attention, the next round will stop them altogether. I can tell you from my own experience with getting stung with #9 shot while dove hunting, even at about 40 yards out, it gets your attention pretty quickly.

Having a system like this installed in or near a school’s central office would also mean that public knowledge of the existence of the weapons would likely either 1) deter a shooter from attacking a school at all or 2) cause him to attempt to neutralize these weapons first and thereby focus the initial attack on the office instead of the classroom.

But this common sense and sensible approach does not conjure up the image of a reckless saloon of the 1800’s, complete with the mythical random gunplay and teachers strapped with Colt Dragoon’s, so we are left with the hyperbolic rantings of the handwringing, “oh, dear” political class and their knowing use of a paralyzing fear on the left of what they do not know or understand to achieve a political goal.

This is by no means an attempt to depersonalize these past school shooting tragedies, but if we are to have the debate about guns and schools, let’s at least be rational about it. This post is an attempt to cut through the banshee like screaming of the institutional and and reflexive “progressives” and their fear of guns – and people with knowledge of them. The true shame is that there is nothing but pure ignorance and stupidity that stops us from protecting our kids. We do so for fire protection, so why are we so willing to try to abrogate the rights of 312 million American citizens when the answer is self-evident?

Don’t kid yourself, it isn’t about Sandy Hook, Columbine or West End Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas – it is about a leftist paranoia over a Constitutional right that they simply don’t understand, used to protect against a threat that most of them do not comprehend.

43 thoughts on “Guns, Schools and Common Sense

  1. I remember Democrat lawmakers of the 70’s and 80’s being soft on crime until their own wives and daughters started getting mugged. Then in the 90’s and beyond, the prisons started filling up as Democrats backed off of their self-righteous sanctimony.

    Facts and figures mean nothing to liberals. Until their own children start getting shot at school they’ll continue hallucinating the alternate reality of a gun-free Utopia.

  2. Don’t kid yourself, it isn’t about Sandy Hook, Columbine or West End Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas – it is about a leftist paranoia over a Constitutional right that they simply don’t understand to protect against a threat that most of them do not comprehend.

    This is because liberal/progressives do not understand INDIVIDUAL rights and liberty, nor do they realize THEY are the threat these weapons allow us to defend ourselves against.

  3. It would seem logical to let each state decide whether or not they have their teachers packin heat. Am I wrong? Must this be federally mandated?

    Off topic now….. yesterday, I put together a Girls with Guns Rule 5. I can post it after church if you’d like. If you don’t want, I will not post it here.

  4. “I can tell you from my own experience with getting stung with #9 shot while dove hunting, even at about 40 yards out, it gets your attention pretty quickly.”

    Been hunting with Dick Cheney, Utah? 🙂

    Your argument here has a lot of merit, at least in some schools. I’ve argued for years (including here) that these shotguns are far better for home defense than handguns. I have one myself, along with other guns.

    This was my Facebook post yesterday: “Well, crap. If the Mayan apocolypse had occurred, at least I wouldn’t have been force to agree with so much of Charles Krauthammer’s column in my newspaper this morning. I hate it when that happens.”

    What that column illustrates is that the issue is a lot more complicated than both sides typically portray. After all, more than 100 Americans have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook, and in 2009 there were 10 states where you were more likely to be killed by a gun than in a car accident.

    Merry Christmas to all at the RNL.

    • Columbine had an armed guard, a sheriff’s deputy, no less, on duty when Harris and Klebold went on their insane rampage. He even exchanged gunfire with one of the killers, maybe more would have died had he not been there. But his presence did not prevent the attack.

      Still,I am willing to place armed guards on every campus in the US, but who is going to pay for it? The Republicans have drawn a spending line in the fiscal sand; this time next year, teachers will be lucky to have a job, much less a gun in their desk

      Now, Utah, are you willing to say that, since one must bear in mind that some of the words in the Constitution had different meanings when written down than they do today, shouldn’t we consider the fact that the meaning of ‘arms’ has, if not changed, been enhanced to the point that what were once arms are now novelties and collector’s items, items that few would think to use in self-defense? Assault rifles, six-guns, even a two-shot derringer would have been unheard of when the Fathers were discoursing over the bearing of flintlocks and arquebesses. Thus, wear your powder horn, and carry a musket where you will, because you have a constitutional right to do so. But modern weapons, whose range and firepower were unimaginable in 1789, are not protected by the 2nd amendment

      • “Columbine had an armed guard, a sheriff’s deputy, no less, on duty when Harris and Klebold went on their insane rampage. He even exchanged gunfire with one of the killers, maybe more would have died had he not been there. But his presence did not prevent the attack.”

        No one that I am aware of ever has. However, I personally did go so far as to say that this deputy was the FIRST target of those attackers. Being that the deputy was a creature of habit, Harris and Klebold had cased out his routine. On that day however, the deputy ate lunch in his car. So in a sense you are right … the presence of the plain sight armed deputy did not thwart the planned attack, however it is safe to assert that because he was able to return fire, he bought time for more would be victims.

        I used this specific example to support my proposal of concealed carry guards/teachers (those who are willing to go through proper professional tactical training). Deterrence is not knowing who, or how many would be defenders are present in any given situation. They are certainly more difficult to plan for. 🙂

        “Still,I am willing to place armed guards on every campus in the US, but who is going to pay for it?”

        Stopping aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt should just about cover it. Hell, our children are more important to us anyway, right? 🙂

        As far as comparing weapons of today vs yesterday, I can tell you from my studies in medicine, that the blunderbuss, and balled musket were amongst the most imagined feared weapons in history. Cannons of the day with their massive multiple projectiles … along with our lack of understanding of infection control meant more fear and terror of being shot than anything you can imagine of today.

        So is this (“But modern weapons, whose range and firepower were unimaginable in 1789, are not protected by the 2nd amendment”) your interpretation, or is it found specifically somewhere that the Founding Father’s perceived the weapons we have today, and planned for them? If so, why didn’t they just write that in to the Constitution?

        It can also be argued that their intention in the 2nd Amendment was to allow citizens the very same weaponry as the government could arm with as a check and balance. But I am certain you would not care to interpret the 2nd Amendment in that light, now would you?

        • Do you mean, allow my me and my neighbor to own and carry any gun they are strong enough to pick up? No, not when modern weapons can tear a hole through an intruder, the wall behind him, and the baby in the crib in the house next door.
          As far as being as well-armed as the army, so what? When the Feds come to your door to get your guns, you are not going to open fire on the police or FBI or whoever is selected to do such a thing. You would give them the guns with a smile on your face, because you don’t want to die.
          Then, you would do a modern-day Paul Revere; get on the phone and spread the word, and soon there would be no guns to seize in anyone’s house.
          But that scenario would not ever come to pass. the co-ordination required would set of alarms before the raids were ready to be carried out, and with that many people involved, someone would blab..
          Since the 2nd says nothing about allowing citizens to be a check against government power, only that a militia is necessary for the protection of a free state, I fail to see from where you formulated this argument.
          I do agree that arming qualified teachers has merit; it answers my question on cost. And they can always carry them along to contract negotiations. 🙂

          • “No, not when modern weapons can tear a hole through an intruder, the wall behind him, and the baby in the crib in the house next door.”

            Here’s your problem Greg, You need to learn a bit more about the ballistics of the day.
            (ex: they had shot that would rip down solid pine masts)

            The 2nd Amendment also does not say anything remotely about gun control related to modern weaponry, Greg. Do you see my point now?

            • Because they had cannons, it’s okay for us to carry grenade launcher around? To have automatic weapons?
              You have addressed my point. Arms meant something different then, if you ognore that, then you can argue that the general welfare clause authorizes Congress to establish a national medical insurance plan.

              Now, you can make the argument that since modern weaponry is not covered by the Constitution, it becomes the right of the individual states to ban or allow such weapons, without interference from the feds.

              • Greg, you are STILL missing my point. I said “It can also be argued”, not that I was making that argument. The point is that you cannot start a trend of reading things in to the US Constitution. I gave you the flip-side of the coin. You also cannot presume that you are allowed to read your views in to the US Constitution, and not expect someone else to read their views in to the US Constitution. This is at the crux of the debate about the whole “living constitution” discussion.

                That my friend, is what Amendments are for.

                However,. you also cannot make fallacious arguments about the intent of the Founding Fathers based on blunderbuss/musket weapons either. As in our day, those weapons were just as lethal to them as ours are today. You just cannot simply apply your perspective to theirs, and call it a day.

                    • The fact is, Augger, that constitutional law is not cut-and-dried, it is not always obvious what the intent was, or how it should be interpreted. If it was all that easy, we would not need a Supreme Court.
                      I doubt that we will ever come to an agreement on this subject, but at least we can be civil about it.

                    • “The fact is, Augger, that constitutional law is not cut-and-dried, it is not always obvious what the intent was, or how it should be interpreted.”

                      It’s pretty clear their intention was that the document would be cut and dry, otherwise they would have put in place an article of interpretation.

                      An interesting thing about interpretation is that it is generally injected by someone with an agenda, usually to manipulate that condition to their favor. That is where disputes arise, and thus the need for a Court to begin with.

                      Hehehe, maybe that is the reason they formed a court in the first place … to uphold the Constitution they struggled to write against those that would interpret it for manipulative agendas.

                      And yes, civil discourse is always preferable. How long do you think it will last?

                    • Quite a while, i hope. 🙂
                      In that spirit, I Un-abrogate my disinvitation to you in re visiting my site. I hope you do look, and I hope you get a coupla laughs.

            • Yeah, Augs, you are right. It’s not like the evolution of weapons just started yesterday. Modern weapons are more accurate, thereby less indiscriminant in leathality than historical weapons and the lower muzzle velocity and clumsiness of projectiles of history actually did more maiming than killing – the number one killer in the Civil was wasn’t the actual weapon, it was the infection from the ghastly wounds that were experienced. Most cannonballs were not designed to explode, they were cast iron bowling balls fired at great velocity to bounce and maim their way through enemy lines, taking off body parts as they flew.

              The greatest value of a gun is it’s presence. 99.9% of home defense weapons are never fired and I’m not really aware of a rash of people shooting through their neighbor’s walls for fun and entertainment.

              • Precisely Utah. But let’s toss a graphic up:

                Some of that shot can be fired from blunderbuss style weapons. And speaking of blunderbuss vs pistol comparison, watch this video and see why a blunderbuss was a much more feared weapon than Pirates of the Caribbean would have you believe.

    • Jimmy,
      If you knew anything about hunting, and the Dick Cheney occurence, Cheney’s friend was NOT FOLLOWING SAFETY PROTOCOL and had walked OUT OF SIGHT and OUT OF SAFE POSITION unbeknownst to everyone else who was hunting that day. It was Cheney’s friend’s fault he was shot, NOT Cheney’s fault.

  5. It is SUBSTANTIALLY EASIER (an order of magnitude) to teach a novice to be proficient with a self-loading rifle chambered in “low-power” rifle round and fed with replaceable box magazines, than to teach a novice the proficient use of a 12 or 20 gauge pump shotgun.

    A pump shotgun requires thousands of rounds and repeat shots before a person’s muscle memory becomes “second nature” in reloading the chamber.

    A pump shotgun has substantial recoil which requires “training” in order to learn how to deal with.

    If a hostage taker was “down the hall” or “across the lunch room”, a shotgun would be useless, if you are worried about injuring innocent people who the “bad guy” has surrounded himself with.

    Oh, and it’s MUCH more difficult to carry enough ammunition for a shotgun in preparation for a multiple attackers.

    • Thus my idea of bringing back teaching firearms safety in schools again. Rimfire ammunition is cheap as are the guns it’s fired through. Start them off in Kindergarten with lessons on what to do if they see a firearm…don’t touch it and find an adult. Don’t be scared of it. As they get older, they can be taught basic firearms safety and then go on to learning how to properly maintain and shoot a firearm.

      That’s my thoughts, anyway.

      • Mr. Guy, it would be interesting to know if schoolmarms kept a gun within reach in case of an attack by Indians or such. or how many kids brought guns to class, so they could shoot a rabbit for the stewpot after class.

        I don’t like the idea of teachers having to worry about carrying firearms in class, but I really, really, hate the possible alternative. These atrocities are only getting worse and, sadly, I see no better way to protect our kids, other than universal home-schooling, an idea that looks better and better as the sickos multiply.

        • I can’t say about the old school marms because I wasn’t there. 😉 But I know that when I was in High School in rural North Carolina back in 1976, it wasn’t uncommon to see rifles and shotguns hanging in the back windows of many a pick up truck in the school parking lot. Maybe we were more responsible back then. We also had student school bus drivers. This was up in the mountains, too, curvy, steep roads and all that…a lot of the roads not even paved.

          • When I was school age, it was common for my friends and I to leave our hunting , boots, clothes, arms and accoutrements in the trunk of the car while we attended school before and after we had been lawfully hunting.

            NRA Sponsored “Hunter Safety Courses” were held in the school cafeteria, all were welcomed.

            ALL learned SELF-RESPONSIBILITY !

            OF course, as Joe has so eloquently pointed out, our school systems have been taken over by DICTATORS who teach SUBJUGATION, not SELF DETERMINATION.

        • Greg, I agree. Teachers should not be “required” to bare, or keep arms in the schools. In fact, the opposite is true. Willing teachers who are willing to go through advanced tactical courses, as well as a concealed weapons course should be allowed to conceal-carry weapons in the school system. Not only does that curb in-school student vs teacher violence, but with an unknown amount of teachers bearing arms, it should also deter would be criminal minds from entering schools.

          Almost guest time. If I do not get back before Christmas is over, you all be safe, and eat lots, like we shall do here …

          I just love holiday treats. 🙂

        • Historically, everyone who had the means, carried a firearm. Just a tool of, and for, survival.

          Merely Common Sense if one wants any say in their DESTINY.

          If you wish to kneel and “kiss the ring” and beg for your personal survival, then feel free.

          I am not made of such lowly aspirations.

            • Replying to your statement
              “Mr. Guy, it would be interesting to know if schoolmarms kept a gun within reach in case of an attack by Indians or such. or how many kids brought guns to class, so they could shoot a rabbit for the stewpot after class.”

              My “shop” teachers always had a firearm “available” where I grew up.

              During the times of “the west”, yes, everyone who had the means to carry arms did. For survival. Eating and protection.

            • The first “gun contol” laws in America were instituted by the BRITISH soldiers in an attempt to subjugate the colonists.

              The second round of “gun control” laws was enacted by Southerners, and Yankees, to prevent “freed blacks” from obtaining arms.

              The third round of “gun control” were enacted by the Yankees in post civil war “reconstruction” to disarm the Southerners.

    • Texas, you bring up a good point.

      The next time an anti-gun activist tells you how easy it is to shoot a mass of folks with any type of gun, remind them how little training it takes to bludgeon someone with a blunt object, or strangulate them with a cord. Then ask them if we should ban ball bats, rope, and any other blunt object or corded material.

      That should just about get them hyperventilating on epic proportions about the right to lawfully own items used in every day life … same as a hunters, and target shooters.

      After all, shooting is a sport, just as baseball is a sport.

      • Augger,
        Only those who wish to subjugate OTHERS carry the mantra of GUN BANS and choose VICTIMIZATION over SELF DETERMINATION.

        They can subjugate their supporters.

        They WILL NOT subjugate TRULY NOBLE PEOPLES.

  6. When I was in high school, we had a JROTC rifle team. The juniors and seniors who drove often had their rifles in the gun racks in the back windows of their trucks ON CAMPUS! And, just as Greg pointed out, my father tells me that, when he was in school in up-state New york, they kept their rifles IN THE LOCKERS — because they HAD to hunt on the way home or — often times — the family went hungry.

    It all comes down to fear of weapons (fear from ignorance) and the irrational idea that inanimate objects cause peoples’ hearts to go bad.

    If it were as simple as passing a law, we could make poverty and disease illegal and solve our welfare spending problems — all witht he stroke of a pen.

  7. I bellieve there was also another incident of a college shooting up in Canada a few years back too. I know it’s not the U.S. but I thought it was close enough to consider or just to recognize their loss. To be honest I agree with this article I only wishe to add the additional stupid actions of a few mentaly unstable people for massive killings outside the scope of the term school. I bring up the lastest shooting spree inside the Batman three movies, the mall ones, the museum in Washinton DC, disgruntled former employees of a few companies, the senator in that town hall meeting a few years back, and an entire extended family of one deranged ex-husband on his ex-in-laws on christmas.

    My suggestions for a possible solution to some of these acts of violence, or at least a thought to think about (as long as it doesn’t violate another of our rights).

    1. STOP PUBLISHING THE NAMES OF THE MURDERS. Real simple. Too often I really wonder if the fame of being put down in history does not have some sugnificant push to carry out these cowardly acts. Not saying we should ban freedom of speech here, but like rape victims, it should be a curtisy one at best.

    2. I hate this one folks but, we have background checks, maybe more of a pysch test. At least a history of mentle issues should factor in here. My son is austic but you would not know it just by looking at him. I for one would NEVER permit him any access to a fire arm. They say he is incapable of learning to drive a vehicle at this time because he lacks attention from his ADHD too. I think the reasons for that should also apply to firearms as well. But on the same tooken, how far do the good people need to go to obtain a firearm to protect themselves from the evil people who will do anything to obtain one?

    Again, I agree with this post and can only bring up that one case in Chicago (or was it Washington?) regarding the fire arms banning there. The arguement roughly summarized by me was, Are we to do nothing to protect ourselves from threats in our own home because the so called government believes only certain people should have access to firearms. Well the bad people don’t usually obtain their fire arms in the legal manor so how does that protect the citzens especialy since his neighborhood was not exactly the friends white picket fence one. We there just suppose to stand back and do nothing while they get raped and slaughter. How is that a deterant from future escalating violence? It doesn’t.

    Just a thought.

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