Jim Cameron
Vail, CO, Colorado

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February 28, 2013
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Vail Daily letter: Armed guards impractical

In the running debate between Henry Bornstein and a group with opposing opinions, Mr. Bornstein has maintained a fairly narrow focus of arguing that armed guards in schools is impractical, ineffective and too expensive. There is validity to his argument, but before I go there, I identify myself as a life-long gun owner and never a member of the NRA.

I own guns to protect my home and to hunt, a sport I gave up a while back. The guns I own are consistent with the purposes for which they are intended.

As a matter of choice, I don't belong to organizations that serve a political purpose. I don't give money to any political party and, with one $25 donation exception, I have never given money to anyone's political campaign. When private sector profits and public policy interconnect, there are always conflicts of interest which usually hide behind all the feel good messages.

The proposal to have armed guards in all schools is flawed, not only because of the number of schools -- 99,000 public schools and 33,000 private schools, but because of the design and physical characteristics of schools.

An old inner city high school typically is one multi-story building with very limited entry and exit points. This is the type of school where one armed guard makes sense. However, as families have deserted the inner cities and fled to the suburbs, inner city schools have declined in number and those that remain are serving poor, inner city populations (typically minority). Grade schools and middle schools that are single building may also have potential for a single armed guard.

High schools built in the suburbs or in semi-rural areas tend to have significant acreage and multiple structures, or "pentagon" type structures such as Battle Mountain High School, with a labyrinth of corridors and hallways, both examples of which have many entry and exit points.

The suburban high school I graduated from in 1964 sat on many acres and had eight separate buildings. Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village sits on 80 acres, has multiple buildings spread apart. That campus adjoins Campus Middle School and Bellevue Elementary School, which add another 20 acres and more buildings and vulnerabilities.

In these examples, we are not talking about an armed guard or two. We're talking about a squad or two. Spreading four, six or eight armed guards over a significant number of acres and buildings with a shooter in their midst increases the risk of unintended consequences. Close your eyes and visualize.

I gather from Mr. Bornstein's detractors there isn't a lot of support for arming teachers. A very bad idea and I totally agree.

Message printed on a door mat: There is nothing inside worth dying for. I guess I would amend that with the caveat: Unless you are the family inside.

Jim Cameron


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 28, 2013 06:47PM Published Feb 28, 2013 06:17PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.