April 20, 1999 is a date that many still recall very vividly. This was the date when Columbine high school was torn apart by two gun toting kids. The shootings that day left 13 people dead including 12 students and 1 teacher. Patrick Neville was 15 at the time and he was a student at Columbine. He was on his way to lunch when the shooting started. Neville feels that many in the school were heroic but that the act of violence could have been prevented if someone there would have had access to a gun. “I truly believe that had some of them had the legal authority to be armed, more of my friends might be with me today.”
This is one of the driving forces behind his new legislation idea. Now a state representative in Colorado, Neville is attempting to push a new bill that will essentially remove the label “gun free zone” and allow any concealed weapon-carrying citizen the ability to enter a school. Of course this is legislation is aimed at law abiding, legal, concealed carry citizens.
Neville said of his own children and there school, “They’re just easy targets for a criminal, a terrorist or anyone intent on doing harm. I wake up every day and send my kid to school on blind faith that she’s going to return home safe when there’s really no safeguards for our schools.”
Similar legislation has been proposed in both North Dakota and Wyoming. Opponents of this legislation are becoming more and more vocal. While a recent poll by Quinnipiac stated that 50% of Colorado voters supported this legislation, it also pointed out that 45% did not. This makes for a very testy exchange and a very volatile discussion.
Katie Lyles is a third grade teacher in Colorado and she too was a student at Columbine in April of 1999. However she is vehemently opposed to this legislation.
“People don’t really understand the logistics of being in a school,” she says. “If I had a gun, kids are around me all of the time. They’re giving me hugs. So where do I keep that gun?” She went on to add, “Kids and guns don’t mix,” Lyles says. “And schools have kids, so therefore schools and guns don’t mix.”
The arguments for and against such legislation has simmered for years and there is no real end in sight. In a Democrat controlled state such as Colorado the odds are low for Rep. Neville’s bill. However there is a better chance for this type of bill in the Wyoming house or even the North Dakota house. It simply boils down to party loyalty. Republicans, by and large, are going to support this type of legislation whereas the Democrats are not.
The question that demands an answer is why a gun free zone, such as a school, is even a target for maniacs with guns? If laws help to create an environment where violence does not happen, then by definition the gun free zones would be the safest in the nation. However this is not the case. In most cases mass shooting events happen in areas where guns are not allowed. This points to several issues but it also calls to mind the basics. First, gun free zones do not create less violence. Second, gun free zones are bigger targets because the aggressor has no reasons to fear for his/her life.
Guns are deterrents, plane and simple. While opponents will say things like schools and guns do not mix and that we need to learn how to stop violence, the reality is much different. Evil exists and it will always attempt to show itself. Violence will never be eradicated just like senseless killings will never fully stop. However a concealed weapon in the hands of a trained citizen can help prevent the senseless deaths of many.
So where do you fall on this issue. We would love to hear your opinions on whether guns have a place in schools!