Vail Valley Voices: Argument against armed guards is bunkum
Ryan Summerlin January 13, 2013
Henry Bornstein criticized the idea of having armed guards at schools. He pointed out possible problems – a single armed guard can’t be everywhere, would be easily spotted and neutralized, that sort of thing. He limited the idea to having one presumably uniformed guard per school whose sole job was security. He did not offer a viable alternative.
He questioned whether an armed response would do more harm than good. He noted that recently in New York City, two police officers injured nine bystanders in the course of dealing with one shooter near the Empire State Building. By Bornstein’s logic, we should not allow armed police officers on the streets.
Bornstein mentioned colleges and universities. Don’t Colorado’s major institutions of higher learning have armed campus police?
Those like Bornstein who frown on armed protection in schools should ask President Obama why he sends his kids to Sidwell Friends School, which does have armed security guards.
They should ask Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama chief of staff, why his kids go to the University of Chicago Laboratory School, which also employs an armed security guard. Maybe it’s because Chicago topped the 500 mark for shooting fatalities in 2012. This in a city with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.
Consider all the politicians, entertainers and the like who are anti-gun but benefit from armed security guards.
There’s all kinds of ill-advised reaction going on these days; Bornstein is just one example. A Denny’s restaurant in Belleville, Ill., would not allow armed police officers to sit down for a meal. It later reconsidered, after an outcry at the foolishness of such a rule. A school in Silver Springs, Md., suspended a 6-year-old for pointing his finger at another kid and saying, “Pow.” Good grief.
I do not accept Bornstein’s definition of the issue. He focuses on possible gun battles in schools. I consider the deterrent effect that armed guards would have on potential shooters. Would they be less likely to make their move at a place that was known to have armed personnel?
There is a wide array of opinions about this. Google “guns for self defense” and consider the various points of view. I am persuaded by Gary Kleck’s observations, as well as Colorado’s own David Kopel.
Bornstein asked for examples of people using firearms for protection in Colorado, implying they don’t exist. Here’s a few:
• On Dec. 9, 2007, a man came to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He had already murdered some people elsewhere. When he started shooting at people in the church, a volunteer security guard shot him with her handgun, for which she had a concealed carry permit. The wounded perpetrator then killed himself. For details, Google “New Life Church shooting.”
• On Feb. 28, 2012, an armed man came to a medical office in Colorado Springs and began taking hostages. A doctor who had a concealed carry permit used his gun to cover the escape of other patients and personnel. After police arrived, one of them shot and killed the intruder (AP, Feb. 29, 2012).
There are a number of cases in Colorado in which victims shot and killed intruders in home invasions, such as Colorado Springs (Denver Post, June 21, 2010), Las Animas County (ABC 7 News, Nov. 25, 2011) and Craig (ABC 7 News, March 27, 2006).
I doubt this information would make people like Bornstein reconsider their position.
My suggestion: Identify school, mall and similar staff who have good judgment and are willing to shoot. Train them in safe firearms practice, including shoot/don’t shoot decisions. The NRA and others offer courses of this kind. Arm them. They don’t wear uniforms but have an armband, vest or similar means of identifying their role, which would be put on in an emergency. Publicize the presence of such persons, so the next James Holmes or Adam Lanza will be on notice of what he’s up against.