With Liberty and Justice for All (even school teachers)

When I first heard the news that Harold ISD, a small school district in North Texas, decided to allow their teachers to carry guns on campus this coming school year, “that feeling” came over me which used to come over me when Ronald Reagan gave speeches on liberty and American exceptionalism. In what I can only describe as a flood of emotion approaching inexpressibility, I thought again and again of the scene from Braveheart where Mel Gibson’s William Wallace screamed “Freedom!” I thought of 1775, when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants,” and I was thrilled that now, in 2008, brave Texans have decided the assailants have had the advantage for long enough.

As this nation was being birthed, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” and Patrick Henry that “the great objective is that every man be armed.” Yet instead of recognizing the wisdom of these words and abiding by them, we have largely remained idle amidst the emergence of public areas in our society where firearms are declared off limits. This has translated into providing armed predators with unarmed people upon whom to prey.

Nowhere has the foolishness of these “gun free” areas been more evident than in our public schools. In 1990, the Gun-free School Zones Act was passed by President George H.W. Bush, only to be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It was resurrected by President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s, and by 1996 a broader version of it was in place as the law of the land. (Ironically, it was at this same time that shootings in public schools became a broader problem as well.)

Everybody remembers the shootings at Columbine on April 20, 1999. Fourteen students and a teacher were killed, and twenty-three others were wounded. But the fifteen deaths at Columbine are only a small portion of the approximately sixty people who have died as a result of shootings in our public schools since 1996. Such a ridiculously high death toll should force even the most ardent anti-gun Democrat to recognize that “gun free” zones do no more to keep the criminally minded student from bringing guns to school than laws against burglary keep thieves from breaking into homes. At least the Heller decision confirmed our right to have guns in our homes with which to repel thieves and the like, but all we have done about people who shoot other people at school is to continue to guarantee them unarmed victims through asinine restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

Throughout my time as a student in the university, these restrictions took away my right to have a gun with me for protection even though I have a concealed carry license. And I vividly remember how vulnerable I felt after the Virginia Tech shooting in April, 2007, when 33 students were killed by a disgruntled student. I knew my fellow students and I were literally sitting ducks; men denied the right to self defense by liberals who trust in the “basic good” of humanity for their safety. (They fail to understand that the only time criminals are “basically good” is when the threat they face for committing a crime is as bad, or worse, than the threat they pose to their would-be victims.)

Fortunately, Harold ISD Superintendent David Thweatt is tired of this, and is taking the path that the late Charlton Heston was jeered for championing following Columbine. He wants teachers in his school to carry guns with which to protect their own lives and the lives of their students. According to Thweatt: “If something were to happen [at Harold]…I’d much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them.”

Thweatt came to this decision after evaluating school gun policies like those Clinton implemented. “When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started,” he said. Simply put, he recognized that maintaining a “no guns allowed” policy for his faculty would amount to nothing less than giving would-be “assailants” a tremendous advantage. “We cannot control the environment unless we have something to defend ourselves with,” he said.

As one would expect, liberal blogs have already begun to post their predictions that a bloodbath “like Columbine” will result from Harold ISD’s decision. However, I believe we can take solace in the fact that those predicting the “bloodbath” are the same people who predicted Reagan would lose the Cold War, Iraq would be another Vietnam, and John Kerry would win the 2004 presidential election.

As usual, the liberals never like to let the facts get in the way of a political position they’ve grown accustomed to holding. Were they open to facts, there is much they could learn about improving school gun policies from the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus. For instance, according to Fox News Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano, on the day of the shootings six students in the very classrooms the killer entered “had guns in their autos or at home” – guns they could have had with them at school to use in defense of their fellow students and professors. Of the six, Napolitano said, “all had been licensed and trained in the use of guns.” Things could have gone much better for innocent people and much worse for the killer at Virginia Tech had the school allowed law-abiding, licensed students and professors to have their guns with them in the classroom.

This was not lost on Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has made it clear that he has no intention of intervening to prevent the arming of Harold ISD’s faculty, as long as the teachers who wish to carry a gun get a concealed carry license to do so. Moreover, Perry is supporting a bill being pushed by the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus which, if passed in January 2009, will allow college students with concealed carry licenses to keep their handguns on their persons on college campuses in Texas.

It was Reagan who said: “There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power.” This is the path we’ve foolishly followed for security in our schools up till now, as we have reacted to every shooting by giving the government more power to keep law-abiding citizens from defending themselves. But Thweatt is changing this, and it is refreshing to see that he recognizes that the “security” Democrats offer via “gun free” zones is nothing less than a façade which all too often costs innocent students and faculty members their lives. May this wise and rational man’s decision to arm the faculty at Harold ISD remind us all of the importance our Founder’s placed on personal responsibility, the value of human life, and the irreplaceable benefits of an armed citizenry.