The buck stops here
Firearms topic at sports show
A gallery of deer mounts, leather boots, rows of knives and neatly stacked arrays of guns filled the ballroom of the Jaffa Shrine Center during its annual sports show Friday, a day after President Donald Trump proposed training and arming teachers with concealed weapons to combat school shootings.
Multiple participating vendors at the sports show, some of them hosting gun drawings, agreed with Trump’s idea that teachers should be armed. Trump’s proposed solution comes a little more than a week after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“Arming teachers, if they were trained, it would’ve minimized the tragedy,” said Sharon Merritts, secretary for Blair County Game, Fish and Forestry. “There was an armed officer who stood outside while those children were being cut down because he panicked and didn’t react. If more people had firearms at the school, surely one of them would’ve been able to get into action and been able to stop the rampage a little sooner.”
Joe Garner, team lead for Fallen Outdoors, said, “If teachers are well-trained and have special permits, I’m OK with them being armed. I would rather see armed guards or some kind of security for every school.”
“It’s sad that it’s come to that, but in this day and age, it’s what you have to do,” Garner added.
But not everyone at the sport show agreed with Trump’s proposal.
Justin Mosser, a licensed firearm dealer and president of Wright Milling Feed and Supply Inc., said teachers should not have to be armed even if they possess a permit and should focus on teaching. Instead, Mosser proposed increasing the age requirement to purchase a gun, standardizing gun laws at a federal level, registering all firearm transactions and requiring all purchasers to complete a background check.
“One of the solutions we need is federal control. Do not give the states the right to do as they choose,” Mosser said. “I think that if the entire nation was held to the same standards we are held to with the only change being is you should not be allowed to purchase a gun unless you are 21 years of age. The second part I think that needs to be added to is that any firearm transaction needs to be registered and handled. Any person buying a firearm should have to go through a background check.”
A member of the Glendale Sportsmen’s Association, who declined to share his name, initially said he didn’t think teachers should have to carry guns before changing his answer to “I don’t have a clue.”
“Everybody has a different opinion,” he said. “Nobody has the answer. You think taking away the guns like this is going to make a difference? Do you think if everyone takes all the guns and piles them up and burns them, it’s going to make a difference? They are going to get ‘nutsos’ like the kid last week, and he’s going to blow the place up.”
“I think the teachers could’ve seen what was wrong with that kid,” he added.
Rob Conroy, director of organizing for CeaseFire PA, strongly disagreed with Trump’s proposal of arming teachers.
“Absolutely not,” Conroy said over the phone. “There are so many horrible things that could happen if you arm a teacher or any school personnel.”
Conroy said adding more guns to an enclosed, controlled space with more people could lead to an “unmitigated disaster.” He rhetorically asked what would happen if a teacher had a bad day and “cracked” or if a couple of students got a hold of a gun belonging to a school staff member.
“Just reduce the amount of firearms,” he said. Conroy proposed passing a lost or stolen gun reporting law to track firearms being distributed, passing a gun-violence restraining order, tightening protection-from-abuse firearm relinquishment laws, limiting access to high capacity guns and revisiting discussions about an assault weapons ban.
The Jaffa Sports Show, which began 36 years ago, includes a wide variety of vendors and organizations and offers educational seminars on outdoor activities including archery, gem panning, turkey calling, fishing and gun safety.
According to Teresa Patterson, the Jaffa Shrine’s sport show seminar coordinator, an average of 10,000 to 12,000 people attend the show.
The Sports Show will be today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Jaffa Shrine. More details about the seminars, exhibitors, special events and guest speakers can be found at www.jaffashrine.org/sportsshow.
Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.