Posted: 12/28/12 16:17
by Dave Mindeman
Rep. Tony Cornish put together a piece for the Star Tribune on his idea to put armed guards in schools.
Lots of opinion, but no real solution.
Let's start here....
You can't afford to completely encase your schools with bulletproof windows and steel locked doors -- but you can afford to share the cost of an officer with the city or county, as some districts are doing.
Cornish is correct on one count. We can't possibly afford to make all the changes needed to turn schools into bunkers. But this may be an opportunity to discuss design changes that can help for the future. There are mandates going forward that might be helpful but to retrofit existing schools is just not an option.
But Cornish is clearly disingenuous to think that there are options about "sharing" costs with local government on officer placement. First of all, it is not an efficient use of resources. It may give us peace of mind to think an armed officer is available at the school, but horrific as these shooting sprees are, they are still rare. A full time officer just isn't practical and a gunman depending on surprise is still has a huge advantage -- even against a trained officer.
And secondly, there is the fact that Cornish and his Republican colleagues have gutted local government aid to the point that regular community and municipal policing has been scaled back much too far already. To think that there is something to "skim off the top" and share with the schools is ludicrous.
Cornish decided to throw a dig at Congressman Walz as well:
Actually, Walz's home school district in Mankato, where he taught, has had armed cops in its schools for years, partially paid by the district. Three surrounding rural school districts also pay to have armed cops in their schools. They are accepted well by teachers, students and staff and give a measure of security.
Back in July, Mankato did work their budget to get a patrol officer into the district. But the history of this project is, again, a critique of state funding problems.....
At one point several years ago, Mankato had four liaison officers working in the city?s schools. That was cut to one officer per high school, then later cut to one officer for the entire district in 2009 because of cuts to Local Government Aid. (School liaison officer) Rother?s current position is paid for by the school district. Since being cut to one officer, the school district has been looking at ways to hire another officer through grants or other funding sources, said Sheri Blasing, West High School assistant principal. They have not been successful.
Now, the purpose of these officers is not solely for protection. Their main purpose is to act as role models/mentors/instructional for kids. A way to get kids used to the idea of police officers as people to trust as opposed to just an arm of enforcement. Not a bad idea although a luxury to most school districts.
Rep. Cornish continues his plea for teachers to be armed....
Then we heard from the education community, which claimed to have "experts" in the field of security and doesn't want "armed teachers." These alleged experts don't seem to realize that armed teachers have been allowed by state law for years in Minnesota and that some have taken advantage of it. I know there are teachers who carry while instructing.
There may indeed be a few teachers in the schools who carry firearms, but most school policies forbid it and the vast majority of their colleagues would be uncomfortable if these guns were visible. And, in addition, it is hard not to imagine that the availability of guns in a school could not turn into a very dangerous student prank.
And then we get to the Cornish "bottom line"....
Here's the bottom line: When a psycho pulls up out front, you have seconds to act. A camera won't do any good unless there's a gun behind it. A window won't do any good unless it's bulletproof. All the counselors and therapists you can hire won't do any good unless they are armed.
Yes, true....you have seconds to act. Which means you won't have time to retrieve your gun from a secure location. No, you will have to have it on your person at all times. We won't have bulletproof windows, so this gunman will enter the school. The gunman will probably have body armour --the school protector will not. The gunman will have a plan that the school protector will not know or have any idea about. The gunman will have his guns at the ready and the school protector will have to bring it to bear. The REAL bottom line? The school protector will be dead and precious seconds will be lost before calling 911.
Rep. Cornish and gun advocates like him seems to assume that the very presence of guns in the schools is some kind of deterrent against a madman whose ultimate goal is to end his life taking as much carnage as he can with him. An OK Corral shootout with other guns would simply increase his final vision of glory.
Cornish believes firmly that any restrictions on guns is a complete waste of time. But equally unproductive would be armed defenses and a bunker mentality.
There really are common sense solutions and common sense restrictions. But all of that gets lost in this "showdown" hyperbole.
We have got to do better than this.