Point: Bringing armed guards into schools is the logical next step

Ryan Wiskerchen, Staff Writer

The debate surrounding measures that could be taken to prevent gun violence is often reliant on apocalyptic visions, heart-wrenching stories, and the like.  But by using the calm eye of logic, the issue can be approached rationally and intelligently.  Any person who prides themselves on following their head must come to the conclusion that armed guards in schools are a necessity.

After the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, firearms are coming under heavy scrutiny.  The belief is if we do enough to hamper access to guns, fewer people will die because of them.  This is a noble aim, but ultimately a naive plan.  When more is done to make guns illegal, the end result is a higher percentage of these weapons in the hands of people who have no respect for the law.  And someone unconcerned with committing a crime by owning a gun is a person who will be less likely to care about breaking another law, such as murder.

When the National Rifle Association (NRA) says that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” they are not being dogmatic.  It is not about an ideology, it is about learning from history and using common sense.  In the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December, when police finally arrived on the scene, Adam Lanza ended his own life rather than risk a firefight.  In the Norway attacks of 2011, Anders Behring Breivik was able to commit history’s worst mass shooting,  killing sixty-nine people and injuring hundreds more, but put up no resistance when the police confronted him.

These two incidents, both recent and horrifying, characterize an integral part of the shooter’s psychology.  They were unwilling to engage in a shootout with others, no matter how much body armor or deluded righteousness they possessed.  The appearance of law enforcement officers ended both attacks without any further casualties, save for Lanza’s suicide.  The mere knowledge that the police were armed and willing was enough to convince these murderers to take an easier way out.

That’s the real argument for armed guards.  They are a deterrent to would-be massacres by showing that schools are not less important than banks, sports stadiums, or the White House.  Children are supposed to be our most valuable resource, so let’s start acting like it.  Anyone hoping to achieve notoriety by killing people will have to look somewhere else, or give up on their plan altogether.

There are limits to what armed guards can do.  We cannot, and should not, give up our rights and live in a police state.  But there is nothing worse than the ending of a life that had no chance to experience its full potential, and we should acknowledge that right now, schools are one of the top targets for violence.

Armed guards and teachers have been proven to work by preventing violence in many states, including Utah, California, Illinois, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Texas, and Delaware.  A Denver University professor, Dan Kopel, testified before a senate committee on a Utah law allowing for teachers to carry concealed weapons in classrooms, “But we’ve had this policy in practice in Utah for many years, and we’ve never had been a single problem. And, quite notably, we’ve never had an attack on a Utah school.”

The key thing that an armed presence in a school provides is a drastically reduced response time.  Being able to respond quickly and efficiently lowers the number of casualties. In Newtown, it took the police twenty minutes to arrive at the scene.  Obviously a better system is needed.

What I have suggested is not a comprehensive, twelve-point plan to solve every incident of gun violence in our country.  Rather it’s an idea, just one, that I think needs to be explored and debated, not just thrown under the rug because it exists outside of some people’s political blinders.  Petty partisan squabbling should not be the order of the day when elementary school students are being buried.