March 9, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Keep guns off school property


---- — At times, it seems like this nation has gone overboard in its gun legislation.

Many proposed laws came into existence after the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six staffers were killed. A handful of states have been asked to consider allowing elementary school teachers to carry guns. A South Carolina legislator proposed an elective high school class on gun safety. Blind people can carry guns in Iowa.

While ridiculous proposals will continue to surface across America, a few states are reconsidering their gun laws.

Among those is Indiana where Senate Bill 229 would allow people to keep guns locked and out of sight in parked cars on school property. It has received mostly Republican support and, having passed 74-24 through the House, is in the Senate.

Twenty-three states have exemptions to allow for firearms in safe school zones. If SB 229 becomes law, it would still be a felony to have a weapon in a school building or out in the open in school parking lots. Students would still be prohibited from having weapons in parked cars unless they belong to a school gun club and have a principal’s written permission.

Indiana should do whatever it can to keep firearms off school property. Easing the law may ensure the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners but the safety of all Hoosiers, gun owners or not, could be at question. The Legislature must show it is dedicated to the safety of Indiana’s children.

Granted, it is hard to monitor whether a parent dropping off a child at school has a gun in the glove compartment. But an inadvertent action is far different than the fear that guns could be a few feet away from a school door.

In the late 1990s, teens were surveyed by Tulane University researchers. Fifty percent of the respondents said that obtaining a gun would be “little” or no trouble. Half said the task would be nearly impossible. And in 2007, a Harvard University journal concluded that banning weapons doesn’t lead to a serious dip in crime.

Changing Indiana’s law won’t alter the perception that guns are relatively easy to acquire or ensure that shootings won’t take take place in schools.

However, the National Association of School Psychologists reports the majority of youth murdered are killed with a firearm and half of youth suicide deaths involve a gun.

The accessibility of weapons must be a key issue in preventing these deaths. A gun on school property works against preventing firearm injuries or worse.

Hoosiers don’t want laws based on guesses and perceptions. But a family’s hopes that a place of learning — of all places in their community — is a safe haven should be paramount in legislators’ actions.

— The Herald Bulletin

THE ISSUE A proposed bill allowing guns in parked cars on school property THEIR VIEW The legislation works against the hopes for school safety.