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Posted at 11:11 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Giving guns to teachers: A Nebraska legislator submits bill

By Valerie Strauss

It was inevitable that someone would push a plan to allow teachers to pack concealed guns, and now, someone has, that someone being Nebraska state Sen. Mark Christensen, who has even submitted legislation to that end.

Here’s what he was quoted as saying by the Christian Science Monitor as he submitted his bill this week to the state legislature: “If you have a kid come in to shoot a teacher ... or other kids, it’s best to have somebody that can take care of the situation.”

The recent shootings in Tucson that left six people dead and 12 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has once again thrown the national spotlight on gun rights, so it was just a matter of time before someone revived the idea of arming teachers.

Christensen’s plan also followed a recent shooting in which an Omaha high school senior killed an assistant principal and wounded a principal before killing himself, the Monitor reported.

Under his legislation, each Nebraska school district would be allowed to set a policy that would require a two-thirds majority vote of the school board to allow teachers and administrators to obtain permits to carry guns on campus. The law would also cover colleges and universities in the state.

To be fair to Nebraska, it isn’t the first place the idea has been raised; it has been considered in recent years in states including Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, but those were not implemented.

Forty-three states, plus Washington, D.C., prohibit anyone from carrying a gun onto the campus of a public school, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The only school district in the country believed to allow guns to be carried into public K-12 schools is the Harrold Independent School District in Texas, where the policy went into effect in 2007 and requires that those carrying the guns get training and use bullets that shatter when they hit a hard surface.

Harrold Superintendent David Thweatt told the Monitor that there haven’t been any instances when the guns have been used, but having the staff armed, he said, has been “comforting.”

Not everybody sees it that way, however.

Security experts and gun control advocates cited a number of dangers, including the possibility of a child finding a gun brought into school by a teacher and shots going awry in an emergency.

But why let common sense get in the way?

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 20, 2011; 11:11 AM ET
Categories:  Student Life, Teachers, Violence  | Tags:  gun legislation, gun rights, guns, guns in schools, nebraska legislation, teachers and guns  
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Good grief! I already get nastygrams from parents if I dare utter a cross word in front of their precious delinquents. I can only imagine if I actually shot one of them! (Said with tongue-in-cheek....well, partially "encheeked")

Posted by: buckbuck11 | January 20, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Is there really a better solution than to put a formidable weapon in the hands of those who may find themselves standing between our children and a demented shooter? I received my concealed carry training from an off-duty police officer who himself admitted that in mass shooting situations police are extremely hindered by their long response time, and an armed citizen can be the most effective defense. Most school shootings can be linked to bullying, bad parenting, mental illness, or perhaps tv and videogame violence. But few of these problems are easily solved. This bill is simply attempting to give educators the option (already granted by the 2nd Amendment)to protect themselves, as well as the innocent students under their care, should the need arise. In the unlikely event that someone chooses to disregard the "gun free zone" signs intent on doing as much harm as they can before they are stopped, an armed teacher with the proper training could save lives. What is the problem?
I realize that a world where teachers carry guns is a scary concept for some, and school shootings are relatively rare, but then again so are fires. Yet fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire drills are mandatory in schools aren’t they? The difference is that the thought of one human being intentionally taking the life of another is inherently more frightening, therefore on some level we choose to ignore it, but in the end it is impossible to deny that these things do happen.
In 1991 an assistant principal in Pearl, Mississippi by the name of Joel Myrick found himself helpless to stop a young shooter armed with a rifle. Myrick was eventually able to stop the 16 year old gunman (without firing a shot) only after running to his vehicle and retrieving his .45-caliber Colt pistol. Unfortunately it was too late for several students. I think it’s safe to assume that this incident would have played out very differently is Myrick had been permitted to carry his pistol on his person or, at the very least, locked in his desk drawer.
We must accept the fact that posting signs and making laws that prohibit law abiding citizens from carrying weapons in certain areas does not magically produce a gun free zone. Instead it creates a shooting gallery for the bad guys. I realize there is a risk of students wrestling a weapon away from a teacher, but that is what gun locks are for. In his book, On Combat, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman wrote, “The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land.”

Posted by: lemmercr | January 20, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Is there room for debate on this issue?

In junior high and high school my uncle was on the school shooting team. As in, every morning he would get on the bus with his rifle so that at school he and his teammates and coaches could shoot targets. No one got shot. No one was injured by firearms.

My dad and his friends used to take shotguns to school so that afterwards they could go hunting. No one got shot. No one was injured by firearms.

My brother-in-law and his friends used to take their hunting rifles to school during hunting season so that before and after they could get food for their family and some of the poor and homeless in the community. No one got shot. No one was injured by firearms.

So we know that in some areas it is possible for students to go to school with firearms without any problems. But this article deals with teachers.

So what are the real concerns with allowing teachers to carry (concealed?) firearms on campus if they have been properly trained in the proper use of firearms in threatening situations? Training to include verbally defusing the situation before reaching for the gun, properly securing the firearm so that others may not gain access to it, proper shoot-no-shoot scenarios, etc. "Non-lethal" ammunition could also be considered.

As it is now, teachers are outnumbered and (at least according to news reports out of LA recently) out-armed when it comes to guns in school.

Posted by: stoic009 | January 20, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Many of the school shootings in recent history would not have changed the outcome if teachers had guns.

My son was robbed a few months back. He threatened to buy a gun. I asked what he would have done differently since the robber had a gun pointed at my his face. He said he would have pulled out HIS gun. I would now have a buried son if he had done this.

This is not an Old West shootout. Someone walks up to you with a gun pointed at your head, you could have 5 guns. It won't matter if the person with the gun wants to shoot you.

If they are not afraid to shoot a police officer, where do you think that puts you on the list of targets?

Posted by: jbeeler | January 20, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't think arming teachers is a good idea.

Posted by: ubblybubbly | January 20, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I do find it amusing that the same conservatives that hate teacher's unions and think that teachers are lazy, incapable bums think they should be packing heat.

I suspect more people would be injured by idiot teachers and stolen guns then would be saved.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | January 20, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

If someone walks up to you and shoots you in the face that doesn't give you a whole lot of time to react. If someone wants you dead and they get the drop on you, it might not matter if you have a gun. But it sure as hell isn't going to hurt! And if someone is walking around killing kids as they hide under their desks then an armed teacher is very likely going to change the outcome. I cited a case above that clearly makes that point. No matter how competent the local law enforcement are, it is going to take them a considerable amount of time to take action between the time they are alerted of the threat to the formation of a strategy and the implementation of that plan. A teacher on the other hand would be standing directly between our children and those who intend on doing them harm. I can't see any legitimate reason why those teachers shouldn't at least be given the option to carry a weapon as long as they are willing go through the proper channels. I realize there is a risk, small as it may be, that a student may take a gun from a teacher and use it to cause harm. However, this problem would easily be solved by requiring these weapons to be locked while on school grounds, but to say that all teachers are idiots and shouldn't be allowed to exercise their 2nd Amendment right to be armed is asinine. Furthermore, a weapon in the hands of a rational law abiding citizen is not likely to escelate a dangerous situation because most people have a strong aversion to killing their fellow man. Guns don't create killers anymore than cars create drunk drivers.

Posted by: lemmercr | January 20, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm now retired, but if I were teaching in a school where violence was a probability, I'd rather have an experienced marine standing guard by my class door than having to depend on my own, untried response with a gun.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | January 20, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is trying to force teachers to carry guns if they don't want. Senator Christensen is simply trying to give them the option. If you have no firearms training then obviously you shouldn't have one in a school. Whether you dedicate the time to get that training is your choice. Of course a trained marine guarding every classroom would be swell, but I kinda doubt the Marine Corp has a million to spare.

Posted by: lemmercr | January 20, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

If you are a moral self confident trained individual in the use of a firearm and properly trained to handle a situation, it still remains to be seen if you can pull the trigger. It's not as easy as it's portrayed on television In real life, if you are sane that is, there will be a natural hesitation and fear of killing another human.
You have to live with that death hanging over you for the rest of your life, so to fear the use of a firearm in the hands of a compotently trained person is nothing more than the fear installed in you by the anti-gun crowd.
Keep in mind I talking about a competently trained responsible individual, not Joe Blow on the street corner.

Posted by: jhnjdy | January 20, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"possibility of a child finding a gun brought into school by a teacher"
Most licensees I know carry in a secure holster IWB. The IWB means inside waist band. Do you have many students fiddling around inside of Teachers' pants?

"shots going awry in an emergency"
Can you cite ONE incident this ever occurred by a concealed handgun licensee, or is this just fear-mongering conjecture?

Posted by: someothername | January 21, 2011 7:07 AM | Report abuse

"gun control advocates cited "

HA, consider the source of "what-if" fear mongering

versus realty

"Harrold Superintendent David Thweatt told the Monitor that there haven’t been any instances"

So, by not allowing Responsible Adults who underwent training and Federal, State and Local Background checks to carry, you rather the Students themselves be the "FIRST RESPONDERS" like the 4 who held down Jared in Tucson, until police arrive? Well, that makes sense I guess, students are expendable, you'll get more in later. The few Students at Virginia Tech who jumped on Cho, like the 4 people in Arizona did, may they at V.T. who tried, R.I.P., do you even recall their names? Else were you wanting unarmed teachers to run in like at Virginia Tech, where they got shot instead of holding anyone down?

"Status quo" doesn't work in an emergency situation, and I pray one never occurs, just like TCU is being sued now for creating the impression that that school was "safe" when in fact, it wasn't, or at least not as safe as it could have been..

Posted by: someothername | January 21, 2011 7:14 AM | Report abuse

At our Church, our Pastors and Deacons carry, we prefer to keep our kids safe.

Posted by: someothername | January 21, 2011 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Check out the "Armed classrooms" section at

Posted by: someothername | January 21, 2011 7:36 AM | Report abuse

someothername: In one of the controversial police shootings, not only did the police misinterpret whether the suspect had a gun, but they fired multiple shots and MORE THAN HALF of the shots missed the suspect. If highly trained police can't always decide when to fire and can't hit what they are firing at, do you want you child in a classroom with a terrified teacher firing? Besides, Arizona is a "concealed-carry" state; presumably some of the people at the Safeway that morning had guns.

Incidentally, the Wild West shootouts were mostly in the movies. There frequently were laws requiring cowhands to check their guns at the sheriff's office when they came into town after a cattle drive, so they wouldn't be carrying guns when drinking and/or fights started.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | January 21, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

What if a teacher accidentally mishandles a gun? I think the risk of an accident is too great, so no one should have a gun in a school.

Posted by: educationlover54 | January 23, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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