Of Course We Need Guns In Schools. Of Course We Do.

Want to make it look like you’re doing something to solve a problem even if you are doing nothing?  Announce the formation of a task force.  Works every time. And now that Herr Donald is tying to pretend that he’s just another middle-of-the-road guy who wants to get input from all sides, he’s created a task force to deal with school safety, in particular making schools safe from people who might wander in to the building with a gun.

devos              Now despite claims by the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement that Trump has decided not to make any legal changes in how we regulate guns, what he has realty done is kick the veritable can down the veritable road and put Nancy DeVos in charge of the task force which will discuss ‘all options,’ including whether to raise the minimum age for buying a gun.

You may recall that DeVos is already on record as having recommended that guns be made available to school staff if and when lethal force needed to be used. During her confirmation hearing she cited as an example the fact that a grizzly bear had been wandering around outside a Wyoming school and that the decision to arm school personnel needed to reflect the concerns of the local community. By the end of this hearing, we knew that the person responsible for the Federal approach to educating our children was an idiot who didn’t know anything about either bears or schools, but since when did someone need to pass an I.Q. test to work for Donald Trump?

Getting back to the newly-minted (but not yet formed) task force whose work is supposed to be completed in a year, the problem is that if this group sits down and actually looks at the data on school violence, they will discover that there really is nothing for them to do. Why? Because public schools happen to be about the safest place for the 50.7 million students to spend their time – safer than any other public venue (shopping centers, theaters, etc.,) safer even than their homes.

Want the numbers?  You can find them in a report issued by DeVos’ own Department of Education, “’Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016.” Here’s the bottom line: Public schools are extremely safe and, believe it or not, getting safer all the time. Here are some relevant highlights from the report:

  • During the 2014–15 school year, there were 1,500 reported firearm possession incidents at schools in the United States, and the rate of firearm possession incidents was 3 per 100,000 students.
  • The percentage of students ages 12–18 who reported that they had access to a loaded gun without adult permission, either at school or away from school, during the current school year decreased from 7 percent in 2007 to 4 percent in 2015.
  • During the 2014–15 school year, there were 1.3 million reported discipline incidents in the United States for reasons related to alcohol, illicit drugs, violence, or weapons possession that resulted in a student being removed from the education setting for at least an entire school day. About 78 percent of these discipline incidents were violent incidents with or without physical injury, 15 percent were illicit drug related, 5 percent were weapons possessions, and 2 percent were alcohol related.
  • In the school year 2013-2014, the number of school homicides of persons ages 5 to 18 was 12, the second-lowest yearly total since this data started to be collected in 1992-93. That same year, 1,200 homicide deaths throughout the United States were recorded for the ages 5 – 18 population.

These numbers validate the fact that there is really no connection between what happened at Parkland and whether a school-age child faces a greater risk from gun violence during the time the child is in school. Which doesn’t mean that what happened at Parkland should ever happen anywhere else. What it does mean is that the reaction of the Trump Administration to school violence is something akin to using the elephant to swat the fly.

But why should we be surprised just because Herr Donald tries to justify a ‘new’ approach by appealing to fear?

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Want To Protect Yourself From A Bear? Betsy DeVos Tells You How.

You knew it was going to happen.  Sooner or later one of Trump’s Cabinet nominees was going to say something so crazy and stupid during a confirmation hearing that the comment would end up becoming the most-used line by every comic and satire show on tv.  And right now that honor belongs to Betsy DeVos, whose loony, right-wing views on just about everything no doubt qualify her to advise the 45th President on the educational needs of America’s 50 million school-age kids.

grizzly             But what I didn’t know about Betsy is that her expertise also evidently extends to wildlife and guns.  Because at some point during her confirmation hearing, she told the Senate committee that using guns to protect teachers and kids in schools should be a local decision, and to prove why this was necessary she mentioned a Wyoming elementary school that had been menaced by a grizzly bear so they probably had a gun. In fact, there is no gun in that school, nor are guns allowed in any Wyoming public schools.

Turns out that the particularly grammar school in question is circled with a big fence because it happens to be located on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, home to more than 700 brown bears. So I’ll give Betsy the benefit of the doubt and simply put her answer down to the possibility that like the guy who nominated her for a Cabinet position, she probably doesn’t know the difference between what’s true and what’s false.

But as soon as she shot her mouth off, the liberal watchdogs in the media took issue with the idea that an effective response to a threatened grizzly attack would be to use a gun.   The Washington Post trotted out a wildlife expert, Tom Smith, who using a bear spray was preferable to using a gun; he told PolitiFact that good bear sprays were available on Amazon for $40 or less.

Since I’m a gun guy, I always find it interesting when someone says there’s a better way to protect yourself against anything and everything than using a gun.  So I went to Amazon and checked out one of their bear sprays called Counter Assault, which claims on its website that its products have been tested by an outfit called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) at its Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center located right outside Yellowstone National Park.

There’s only one little problem.  The test involves seeing if a real bear can get into a storage barrel or other device used to protect out-of-door food, garbage or some other item that might attract bears.  They aren’t testing sprays.  And if you have to figure out what would happen if you test-sprayed a bear and the test failed, that’s all the proof you need to be considered dumb enough to serve in the Cabinet of the President-elect.

Couple of years ago a guy came into my gun shop, told me he was going to hike in the Rockies, and wanted to buy a small, high-powered handgun to carry in case he was attacked by a bear.  Just at that moment a car drove past the shop, I pointed at it and asked the guy if he could hit that car with a gun.

“Are you crazy?” he said, “I wouldn’t even come close.”

“The speed limit in town is 35 mph,” I answered, “which is about a grizzly’s top speed.”

He didn’t buy the gun and neither should any school system that thinks the kids need to be protected against animal or human threats.  I don’t have any grizzlies where I live but we do have some pretty big black bears.  And the last time one of them came on my property he had a good time gobbling up the half pizza that we had dumped in the trash. Then Smokey went across the road and had another good time eating the bird seed that my neighbor had set out in his yard.  We had a much better time watching that bear than we will have watching Trump take the oath.