A South Carolina bill, if enacted, would allow armed teachers on school campuses across the state. The bill would also allow other school personnel to carry guns.
Ever since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a heated debate has been reignited about the potential role for firearms in the nation’s schools.
On one side, the solutions that are posited are manifested in more stringent restrictions and regulations on guns, and stiffer penalties on violators. On the other side, solutions pertain to removing restrictions on guns, even allowing guns on school campuses.
A bill making its way through the South Carolina House would require two weeks of intensive training for school officials who desire to be what the bill calls “School Protection Officers.” The training program would be similar to what law enforcement personnel have to go through, except not nearly as long. WPDE reports:
According to WPDE, South Carolina Republican State Representative Phillip Lowe said the bill would make schools safer by eliminating the gun-free zone aspect:
State Representative Phillip Lowe from Florence County said since schools are known gun-free zones, that makes them targets.
“The people who are deranged and want to inflict pain chose a school because it’s a gun-free zone, and they can inflict the most punishment on innocent people,” said Lowe.
If the bill becomes law, it doesn’t mean every district would have to take part in it.
“It doesn’t force the district to participate, and it doesn’t force them to take every candidate who may want to be a protection officer,” said Lowe.
The school boards would work with each school and choose administrators who would go through extensive training, allowing them to have a gun on school property.
The Director of Safety and Risk Management for Georgetown County Schools Alan Walters is not a big fan of the proposed legislation. In addition to raising concerns about the length of training being two weeks instead of the 12 weeks required for police, he was also concerned about what might happen in an active shooter situation:
“If an incident were to happen, an active shooter situation and you have officers converging on that school, now you have civilians who aren’t in police uniforms brandishing weapons, and the cops coming in don’t know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. That’s where the potential conflict would come in. How do they distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys when they get there? Even though the bill would require SLED to keep a registry of who the school protection officers are if an active shooter situation is going on, you don’t have the time to pull out a list and start looking and say is this good guy or a bad guy.”
What happens most of the time in active shooter situations at schools is that the police show up after the fact. There’s hardly ever a case where the police are “converging on the school” during a situation. Since guns are usually strictly prohibited on school campuses, the shooter would have already killed as many people as possible and perhaps even himself by the time the police even show up. If armed teachers and other armed school officials were allowed on campus, at least the victims would have a fighting chance.
Walters’ concerns are similar to those that gun control proponents often bring up about people – especially women – carrying guns for self-defense. They say a woman shouldn’t carry a gun, because a criminal might use that very gun against her. Their solution is to disarm the woman, leaving her defenseless, and instead focus on trying to prevent criminals from obtaining guns illegally.