Teachers Packin’ Heat. Seriously?

Two Oklahoma State Legislators want to introduce a bill that would allow teachers and other public school personnel to have guns in their classrooms. Is this really Oklahoma’s answer to the tragedy in Newtown? Is this our State’s call to action? Surely we can do better for our children.

Will having more easily accessible guns prevent another mass shooting by a mentally ill person? Don’t we, as parents, make sure that our children aren’t going over to play at a house with accessible guns? I know I wouldn’t allow my children to go to a friend’s house if that house had unsecured guns. And, with 40 percent of American households having guns, it’s a good idea to ask. Why in the world would we want our children to go to school every day knowing that there were loaded guns in the teachers’ desks?

I do understand the reaction of people to want to do something, anything, to ensure our children’s safety in light of the horrific events of last week. Maybe these legislators could have put their fear and energy toward funding a mental health professional in every school. They could even go beyond schools, and provide more funding for mental health in Oklahoma. All of the mass shootings have been carried out by mentally unstable people with access to guns. And I’m sure most parents would be fine with some funding for more security at public school sites. What message are we sending to our children in arming our teachers? Is that the society we want to create? Maybe we should all step back and take a deep breath.

What about enacting actual gun control laws? Even what we view as “strict” is pretty lax. Why not focus on getting rid of assault weapons in the United States? If we all put our energy, intelligence and power behind it, we could make a big impact. Mass shootings always bring attention to guns, but the fact is, mass shootings are relatively rare. What isn’t rare is that there are shootings every day in the United States. There are approximately 30,000 U.S. deaths due to firearms in the U.S. every year.

In 2007 according to the Centers for Disease Control Faststats and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control WIQARS Leading Causes of Nonfatal Injury Reports: 48,676 people were intentionally shot who survived. (NCIPC)

18,610 people were unintentionally shot who survived. (NCIPC)

17,352 suicides (intentionally shot themselves who died) (CDC)

12,632 criminal firearm deaths (killed in a crime by guns) (CDC) This does not include deaths of people intentionally or unintentionally shot for legal reasons (Like the police shooting a suspect).

The above total is 97270 people shot in the US in 2007. About a third (29984) died, and it is likely that the total number of Americans shot is at least 100,000 given that all types of gunshot injuries/deaths are not included. In the US, every day during 2007, about 266 Americans were shot. Every day, a third of them (82 daily) died.

Twelve years ago, this magazine participated in local support of the Million Mom March, a national event that was created to draw attention to the number of children killed by firearms and to work for sensible gun safety regulation. The intent was not to strip gun-owners of their guns, but to get them to lock the guns away from children, and to educate the public about gun safety. In Tulsa, we marched down Riverside and had hundreds of participants.  Who can be against sensible laws to protect the innocent from gun violence? Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Maybe moms need to march again.

Like most of you, when I heard about the killing of those innocent little children, I cried. It was unbearable to consider. I felt the mixed emotions of grief, anger, pain, helplessness and fear. We can’t let fear guide us down a path to more violence. We want to believe, as parents, that we can control everything that happens in our children’s lives. We can’t. What is in our control is keeping guns out of their hands. We can refuse to take them to violent movies or buy bloody, violent video games. We can call our Legislators and tell them that we do not want guns in our children’s schools. We can teach them how people act in a civil, caring society.

Categories: Editor’s Blog