State Legislator Wants Weapons In Schools

Image of Oklahoma State Capitol

An utterly expected and hackneyed response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 27 dead in Newtown, Conn. Friday came from Oklahoma this week.

The National Rifle Association, an organization that exists to radicalize an armed America, has so far remained silent after the tragic shooting, but an Oklahoma legislator, state Rep. Mark McCullough, a Republican from Sapulpa, has announced he wants to allow state teachers and principals to have guns on school properties. This way, so the argument goes, as it always goes, they can take down a potential shooter.

It’s a dangerous, ludicrous idea, but one we’ll have to take seriously here in Oklahoma if McCullough really does introduce legislation next session to turn our schools into esteemed institutions of weaponry.

McCullough’s campaign site says, “He supports our Second Amendment rights . . .,” which has now become a sort of code for gun-obsession and right-wing political myopia in which every answer to a horrific gun crime is to add more guns into the mixture. If the NRA lives up to its craven reputation, it’s just waiting out the immediate anti-gun backlash caused by the shooting and will make the same we-need-more-guns argument soon.

Here’s a part of McCullough’s statement about the issue in an Oklahoma House media release:

We cannot continue to be shackled by politically correct, reflexive, anti-gun sentiment in the face of the obvious – our schools are soft targets. It is incredibly irresponsible to leave our schools undefended – to allow mad men to kill dozens of innocents when we have a very simple solution available to us to prevent it. I’ve been considering this proposal for a long time. In light of the savagery on display in Connecticut, I believe it’s an idea whose time has come.

I trust my children to my local teachers and principal every day. I want to give these trusted, responsible educators the ability to defend themselves and our children in the same way any normal parent would, in the face of the unthinkable.

The real question is whether McCullough is actually serious about protecting students or is mainly just countering that “politically correct, reflexive, anti-gun sentiment” to which he refers. I would choose the latter because there are many ways we can strengthen security at our schools without arming teachers and principals. The fact that even some national Republican political leaders have expressed a willingness to discuss stricter control of semiautomatic weapons after the Sandy Hook shooting is another reason McCullough is probably concerned about the issue.

Is McCullough's belief system under attack by the horrible spectacle of 20 dead children, ages 6 or 7?

For the record, and I find it somewhat incredible these arguments even have to be made, here are some basic reasons why it’s a bad idea to arm teachers and principals at our schools:

  • It brings guns into schools and thus creates more opportunities for shootings, either accidental or intentional.

  • Despondent and/or violent-prone students could gain access to a gun in a rash moment and start firing.

  • Teachers and principal will need a tremendous amount of law enforcement training in order to know how to effectively respond to a deranged shooter. There’s a potential they could make a dangerous situation worse.

  • It would be a better idea to simply devote more resources to have more law enforcement or security officers at our schools.

Oklahoma, of course, is now an “open carry” state, and the worship of guns here, primarily based on right-wing paranoia and extremism, is widely known throughout the country. Does legislation putting guns in public schools have a chance to get approved? Unfortunately, it does, especially with veto-proof Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Watch for a new effort to allow guns on college campuses in Oklahoma next legislative session as well.

As the country wakes up to its gun problem in the wake of the recent shootings in Newtown Conn., Oklahoma’s right-wing government will almost certainly turn away from logic, and it won’t be for a honorable but deadly wrong idea of protecting our students. It will be for the NRA’s false and insidious arguments that have helped to create horrific and growing gun violence in this country.