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Arming teachers isn't the answer to school safety

May 14, 2013 - David Lieb, Riverton

Editor:

After reading Mr. Saltsgaver's letter to the editor of April 26, I thought about what he had to say and decided to suggest an alternative view. I don't know Mr. Saltsgaver, so I can't fault his intent, but I do find fault with his conclusion.

The Wyoming Legislature was wise not to listen to alarmist rhetoric and allow firearms in the classroom, as there was not the time for careful consideration and exploration of all options.

I hope that no school incident takes place in Wyoming while the Legislature does take the opportunity to carefully study the issue and decide a course of action. If they should find that something extraordinary needs to be done, I am sure they will come up with a sensible and workable solution.

No sane person wants our children to be in danger at school or anywhere else, for that matter. Yet I do not believe that arming teachers is the correct solution. Contrary to all the rhetoric, schools are among the safest places for our children for them to be free from physical violence, and the history of school shootings proves my point.

Since 1980, 297 people have been killed in school shootings. That is nine per year, as opposed to the 250-300 children who are murdered each year by their own parents. Children also are killed at an even greater rate in firearm-related accidents.

I only list these to point out the absurdity of implying that schools are very unsafe and that the only way to make them safer is to have armed teachers. All of these deaths are, individually and collectively, a tragedy. But in none of these instances is adding more firearms the answer to the safety of our children. Introducing firearms into a safe environment will do little to increase safety and may, by their mere presence, increase the danger.

School facilities and procedures could be designed with safety from armed intruders in mind. It would cost a little more and probably add a small amount of inconvenience for those wishing to visit the school, which are small prices to pay. The facilities could, for the most part, look the same and feel the same yet be made safer.

Having been a secondary school teacher for 30 years, a hunter for 55 years, and a firearms owner for even longer, I feel that I am well acquainted with all sides of this issue. I don't take the safety of our children lightly. Given all that, I am convinced arming our teachers is not the answer to a safe and productive school.

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