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Schools teach that an unarmed society is safer

Michael Swickard

An interesting legal case is playing out in Montana. A 16-year-old honor student, varsity cheerleader and student council member inadvertently brought a deer-hunting rifle onto school property unloaded and secured in the trunk of her car. During the day she realized it was in her trunk in violation of school rules so she voluntarily told school officials she had been hunting that weekend and forgot it was in her trunk.

You would have thought she tried to kill several students as the school rushed to protect the innocent students. The zero-tolerance school expelled her with further punishment to follow. Education officials insisted the gun law had no “wiggle room” – that she must be held to the same standard as someone bringing a firearm onto campus with the intent to commit murder.

First, it was secured unloaded in her trunk; she did not bring it into the school, only the school parking lot. And, actually, the law does have lots of “wiggle room,” but some administrators are phobic about guns, any guns.

This case has people on both sides of the issue “up in arms.” One Montana blog wrote, “The theory that people with malice will be intimidated into good conduct if people without malice are punished in lieu of them is idiocy at its finest.”

This is not about guns or safety. It shows no connection with real gun violence and actually makes schools far less safe. One argument is that “zero tolerance on guns” includes the police except when responding to a call. Otherwise, the police must lock their weapons in the trunk of their police cars. If they want to bring a gun onto a school campus they must call a school administrator at the main office to get permission.

Remember, we are talking about uniform police who are on duty. After the firestorm of protests, the Albuquerque Public Schools were forced to change that policy.


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Likewise, in 2008 a communications professor at a Connecticut school sparked controversy by calling the police when a student during a class speech talked about the Second Amendment in speaking about the three dozen people being killed at Virginia Tech University because none of them could shoot back.

The professor called the police because students were “scared and uncomfortable” during the speech. I guess it was really a speech about the First Amendment, eh?

On and on

The list goes on and on. A Colorado high school student on a military drill team was given a 10-day suspension for having a non-functioning drill team rifle in her car in the school parking lot. Many schools and colleges are hostile to the military who are recruiting.

George Orwell wrote, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” The zero-tolerance policies show an ignorance of what really does make us safe in society. When someone intends murder, a charge of carrying a gun on a school campus is ludicrous at best.

Mexico has some of the most severe gun control laws of any nation and has had almost 30,000 citizens killed in gun violence in the last four years. How is that gun control law working? Only outlaws have guns. Does that make the citizens safer? No.

Now don’t be a donkey and think I am advocating students bringing guns to schools. I completely agree that when students bring weapons to school there is reason for alarm. Rather, I am saying that in the case of someone inadvertently leaving a gun secured in the trunk of their car, it is quite different. In fact, I think that what is in the trunk of a student’s vehicle is like what the student has in their room at home and is constitutionally protected. Again, not to take it out of the trunk.

Attempting to keep uniform officers from bringing weapons onto school property is wrong. Citizens are only safe because the police are trained and prepared to use deadly force. The school’s anti-gun policies are inculcating young minds, giving them the wrong messages about what really does keep them safe… guns in the hands of the police and law-abiding citizens.


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P.S.

P.S. – they did not make permanent the expulsion of the Montana student, and after an emotional meeting Monday they allowed her to return to school. That still leaves the question of the constitutionality of considering a closed and locked vehicle in a parking lot to be different than the constitutional guarantees of a residence. But at least there was a modicum of good thinking.

Or was it that every school leader understood that the school board was set to be swept out of office and then the leadership in the school changed if the student was not quickly reinstated? I believe the community was one bad decision by the school board away from a clean sweep.

Swickard is a weekly columnist for this site. You can reach him at michael@swickard.com.

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8 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. I think the schools would be much safer if the teachers and administrative staff had a procedure they could follow to train in the *safe* use of a handgun and receive a permit to conceal carry while on the job. (Without having to pay the $250 or so for the training and license.)

  2. Good point copkey. And when I was in high school here in NM, everybody who had a pickup truck had a gun rack with a 30/30 and a .22 in the rack in the school parking lot. But I guess we were all good kids in those days, not like the types today.

  3. Here is an interesting point: I am 65 years old, when I was in high school our SCHOOL had 65 m1 garrand semi-auto rifles, 7,200 rounds of ball ammo, ten 22 cal target rifles and a whole bunch of 22 cal ammo. And this was in southern California. circa 1959 – 1963

  4. Unfortunately this hysteria wont go away anytime soon. I do agree that schools need to be as safe as possible but as usual people tend to go overboard in that process. I agree that guns in general should not be allowed on campus, However in certain circumstances there should be leeway given. Once a firearm is discovered, especially in the situation described above the parent should be notified and the firearm retrieved. Perhaps a detention or suspension should be handed out.

    Too bad 99% of the sheeple have no clue that NOBODY is obligated to provide for their safety or security. The only one that is obligated to provide for that is the private individual. This can be easily verified by going to the SCOTUS website or simply going to places like ask.com and asking “Are the police obligated to protect me” or words to that affect and see what you get. Youtube has a number of videos on that subject with verifiable resources. I know it to be true first hand when I dialed 911 dial a prayer and was denied police assistance because “it was too dangerous for them to send someone out to me”. Here are some links http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb3rAglRsqU&feature=related http://www.ask.com/
    SCOTUS– http://www.supremecourt.gov/

    Do the research. You value safety and security. Stop taking a dump on the Constitution and defendit. Because you will never know what you got until you lose it.

  5. Great story and great points Dr. Swickard. This is what happens when government busy bodies and incompetents try to decide all issues as black and white (usually using their own opinions and ideas as truth) and impose them without any intelligent thought upon the citizens. These zero-tolerance items are a case in point in most all instances.

  6. @ Michael S
    I think you prove your point convincingly. Thanks for the story!

  7. January 16, 2002, Grundy, Virginia: Peter Odigizua, a former law student who had just flunked out of the Appalachian School of Law for the second time in as many years, left the school after appealing to faculty to allow him to continue. Odigizua retrieved a .380 semi-automatic from his home that he had shared with his wife and three sons prior to her recently moving out due to domestic violence, came back to the school shooting and killing Professor Thomas Blackwell, Dean Anthiny Sutin, and fellow first year law student Angela Dales. He then shot three more ladies in the lobby of the school before two students retrieved there own firearms from their vehicles in the student parking lot and held Odigizua at bay until police arrived.

    Following this incident, a few of the leftist, misguided professors at ASL sought to expel the two students who I view as saving more of our lives that fateful day. The faculty members above did succeed in enacting a zero tolerance weapons policy at the law school. Such knee jerk reactions are misguided because they only serve to endanger those who would thwart the deadly plans of violent people who pay no attention to such zero tolerance rules.

    I think this weather is phenomenal because it may have affected the climate in Hades itself because, I find myself at least partially agreeing with Dr. Hays for once.

  8. Michael, I do not think that these scattered examples of stupidity prove your point. The same point can be made about other weapons, drugs/medications, etc. If we can take intent into account in deciding murder cases, I cannot understand why we cannot take intent into account in determining weapons (etc)-on-campus cases.

    I think that there are two lessons here: (1) zero-tolerance policies are infinite-idiocy policies because (2) they give cover to school authorities, too often robotic bureaucrats, incapable or fearful of exercising judgment. The lessons taught are (1) do not think and (2) follow any rules because they are rules. I am not the guy to advocate the principle “rules are made to be broken”–that is convenient BS for doing whatever one wants to do–but I am the guy to argue that rules must serve some reasonable purpose.

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