Current law in Wisconsin allows for only on-duty law enforcement officers to be able to carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school building, but if Republicans get their way, changes could be in effect.
State Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) is trying to reintroduce a bill (which failed last session) that would allow retired and off duty law enforcement officials to carry concealed weapons in and around school premises. Crazier yet, is the statement from Republican State Representative Don Pridemore (running for state superintendent of public instruction) which says he would support school districts arming teachers, staff or volunteers to protect student safety. This thought process is backed by Republican State Senator, Mary Lazich, who "represents" Greendale, and has said she is willing to sign such an irresponsible bill.
I completely understand that is a guaranteed right as an American citizen to bear arms, but the right to bear arms does have its limits. Should anyone be allowed to bear whatever arms they feel necessary, wherever they feel necessary? Should a 79 year old retired cop be able to carry a concealed semi-automatic weapon into a kindergarten class when he picks up his grandson? Should a "volunteer" be able to walk around the playground with a concealed semi-automatic weapon strapped to his inner thigh while my seven year old plays tag with his friends? No. And should I have a say so? Yes. Because I am a damn parent, and this is MY SCHOOL, not an outlet for vigilantes or bored members of the NRA.
BEFORE your right to bear arms, comes the right that my family has to "LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Having anyone except a fully-trained, full-time school resource officer patrol anywhere near my school with a loaded weapon is not my idea of "liberty" or "happiness." And frankly, teaching our children that the best way to deal with gun violence is to bring more guns into the schools - Well, that is pretty damn insane. That is like saying the best way to stop bullying is to become the bully yourself.
The Republican party in Wisconsin doesn't want to let health teachers with four year degrees instruct our children on how to protect themselves if they decide to have sex, or give them the proper understanding of their body, but they are more than willing to allow any volunteer who manages to sit through a four hour conceal/carry class to "protect" our kids with guns. I don't understand the logic. In fact, if you own or carry a gun, you are more likely to become a victim of gun violence.
The most recent studies show that if you own a gun, you are 4.5 times MORE likely to be a victim of gun violence. So now the question is, "Do we really want to put our children at 4.5 times more risk of being the victims of gun violence to satisfy a politician's desire to get an "A" rating from the NRA?
In just this past year in Greendale we have had an armed robbery of an apartment where the thieves were after the resident's stash of guns (including a semi-automatic rifle with a grenade launcher), multiple calls for domestic violence where household guns were involved in threats against their spouse, and a case where an off duty police officer accidentally dropped his service weapon while at Southridge mall and injured a local high school student.
I would think that the last thing any responsible parent or teacher wants more of in, or around their children's school, is guns. But don't take my word for it - Take the word of a teacher, who has a few thoughts about how teachers should be armed:
"You want to arm me? Good. Then arm me with a school psychologist at my school who has time to do more than test and sit in meetings about testing.
Arm me with enough counselors so we can build skills to prevent violence, have meaningful discussions with students about their future and not merely frantically adjust student schedules like a Jenga game.
Arm me with social workers who can thoughtfully attend to a student's and her family's needs so I. Can. Teach.
Arm me with enough school nurses so that they are accessible to every child and can work as a team with me rather than operate their offices as de facto urgent care centers.
Arm me with more days on the calendar for teaching and learning and fewer days for standardized testing.
Arm me with class sizes that allow my colleagues and me to know both our students and their families well.
Arm my colleagues and me with the time it takes to improve together and the time it takes to give great feedback to students about their work and progress.
Until you arm me to the hilt with what it will take to meet the needs of an increasingly vulnerable student population, I respectfully request you keep your opinions on schools and our safety to yourself NRA. Knock it off."
I understand that mildy "trained" teachers carrying guns in a school is very different than retired or off duty officers carrying guns in schools, or is it?
Unlike the teachers, the majority of these officers will have NO IDEA who most of the staff, kids or parents of that school are. They will not recognize or know the "troubled' students from the non-troubled students. They might not know a dad picking up his daughter from a pervert in a mini van. They will also likely not know the layout of the school buildings or grounds, entrances and exits, or the office staff.
But most importantly, none of these retired law enforcement officers will be required to take courses dealing with youth, which is what they will be doing, and with a loaded, concealed weapon.
Greendale high school (as do most high schools) has a full-time, on-duty resource officer attached to the school. The officer is trained to deal with youth and is familiar with the school personnel, student population and grounds. If one school resource officer is not enough, fine, add more - with that funding come from the state or the funds budgeted for law enforcement, not the public schools.
Don Pridemore and Mary Lazich apparently think that bored and retired cops and vigilantes should show up in our kid's schools with a concealed weapon and play poker in the corner of the study hall until a bad guy shows up with their own gun, or worse yet, walk around looking for someone suspicious, whatever the hell that means. That line of "thinking" is crazy.
I have nothing against police officers - Half of the guys I played football with in high school became police officers. Some of them I would trust with my life, others I wouldn't trust to sit my dog, much less walk around my kids' school hallway with a loaded weapon, especially if they do not have the proper training or demeanor for such duty. Patrolling the mean streets of the city is FAR, FAR different than patrolling an elementary school. Would you want an off-duty teacher to patrol your neighborhood, come into your home without permission and start tutoring your kid because the teacher thought they needed it?
Yes, as a gun owner, you have the right to defend yourself - But as citizens, the right that my children have to their own life supersedes your right to carry a gun. And by putting more people with more guns in more places with children, you only succeed in threatening the right my children have to their life.
"It'll be a sad day for this country if children can safely attend their classes only under the protection of armed guards." ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) & Five Star WWII General