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Concealed Carry Bill for Teachers Raises Debate

By: Page Forrest

Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Isla Vista. Those are only some of the most recognizable names since 1999. But in the past 15 years, over 100 school shootings have occurred, the most recent occurring at Marysville Pilchuck Highschool in Washington on October 24th of this year.


Bill 140 – An Act to Require All Publicly Funded and State Run Schools in Tennessee to Allow Educational and Administrative Personel [sic] Who Have Legally Obtained a Conceal Carry Permit to be able to Carry on the School Grounds, primarily sponsored by Senator Michael Jensen of Southern Adventist University and Representative Austin Von Henner of Southern Adventist University, aims to decrease the rate of school shootings by providing teachers at levels of education with the ability to carry guns in school. The bill passed through the Education I Committee with approval with two amendments to provide local control and training attached.

Passage was urged by Nathan Cole of Tennessee Tech University, CEO of the Tennessee Gun Association lobbying firm. Cole is a firm believer in the theory that “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” When questioned as to whether a more effective way to prevent school shootings was possible, Cole stated that the Tennessee Gun Association would be supportive of any measure that did not take away American citizens’ rights.

As many school shooters, such as Adam Lanza, procured their guns without a license by just taking the gun from someone else, several people have suggested a government crackdown on the firearm black market. Another member of the Tennessee Gun Association, Daniel Pitts of Austin Peay State University, believes that any government regulation on the firearms black market would be ineffective and useless. Both Pitts and Cole firmly believe that school shootings cannot be prevented before they occur and can only be stopped during their occurrence.

While one could reason that members of the Tennessee Gun Association would benefit from saying that school shootings could only be stopped during their occurrence by “good guys with guns,” the pro-firearms lobbyists aren’t the only ones who believe in the inevitability of school shootings. Representative Caroyln Wilson from Southwest Tennessee Community College, who spoke vehemently against Bill 140 during committee sessions, also believes that school shootings will occur no matter what. “I submitted a bill that proposes a curriculum of non-violence to be taught in Tennessee schools [the bill has since passed with unanimous approval through committee], and I definitely do not support guns in schools, in any form. However, I do think school shootings are inevitable.”

With proponents of both sides of the guns-in-schools debate adamant about school shootings continuing to occur, or at least be attempted, perhaps neither side is looking at the right solutions. As the highly relevant metaphor goes, “why stop the bullet when you can unload the gun?”

While Bill 140 is an admittedly admirable attempt at providing defenses for teachers in the case of a shooting, further attempts must be made to prevent school shootings from happening entirely. Teachers with guns as a potential deterrent is not enough, especially given that the deterrent premise is largely psychological in nature, considering that the history of irrational violence that many school shooters possess, according to Pacific Standard magazine. Legislators must further research and produce possibilities for preventing school shootings before the shooter even reaches the school. Unload the metaphorical gun at the source, and prevent the literal gun from ever reaching the school.

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