We must keep guns out of classrooms

As a retired teacher from Altoona Area School District secondary schools, words cannot express how horrified I am at Pa. Senate Bill 363, the guns in the classroom bill.

That our Pa. legislators introduced such a bill, and that our Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. in this newspaper said he supported it only shows the level of ignorance of both about the public school system and the statistics on gun ownership, carrying and firearms homicide.

First, there are fewer mass shootings in public schools than in any other public place. You are far more likely to be shot in a hotel lobby than in a public school.

Second, there is a definite positive correlation between weak gun laws, gun carrying and mass shootings.

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but 31 percent of all mass shootings. From 1996 to 2012, there were 292 mass shootings globally and 90 were in the United States. This statistic comes from pubmed.com, the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health (which, by the way, is one of the research institutions due to have their funding decreased dramatically).

The conclusion of the study is that the larger prevalence of gun ownership was a major factor.

Our police officers are trained rigorously not only in accuracy with firearms, but in when to shoot tactically, and to differentiate in targets at which to shoot. There is no way a teacher could undergo the same training and still have time to teach. Plus, teachers are alone in a classroom, whereas law enforcement officers usually have partners.

Policemen and women are not usually in a classroom of 30 students. If several students in a classroom rush a teacher for the gun he or she’s carrying, they could probably get it away from the educator. Then you might have a dead teacher and whichever other students the now gun wielding student didn’t like would then take out.

In the elementary schools, what if the teacher dropped the gun or the gun slipped out of its holster, and a student, not knowing it from a toy, picked it up and started shooting? If you put the gun in a gun safe, how do you get it out in time, if the classroom is invaded by a gunman?

Any way you look at it, this law is a recipe for a tragedy to occur.

The two worst school shootings, Columbine and Sandy Hook, could have been avoided by a metal detector or two, a much safer way to go than guns in the classroom. We do not live in the Wild West (where few school teachers carried guns).

Other countries have found that stricter gun laws, fewer members of the public carrying guns, and leaving law enforcement to law enforcement officers have resulted in lower homicide and crime rates overall.

Really, guns in the classroom? With small children, hormonal teenagers whose brains have not yet matured enough to control their impulsiveness, and career educators who don’t have military and police tactical training?

Well, if this law passes, the school shooting season has just opened.

Frances Hugg