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Guns in Schools: Just Say No.

Guns in school? No.

Really, it should be as simple as that.

Schools should be gun-free zones, just like daycare centers, athletic stadiums, bars, casinos, churches and college dormitories. With the exception of armed law enforcement officers, schools should be able to prohibit anyone — students, staff, parents and all others — from carrying a gun on the premises.

If you go to the Michigan State Police website, schools are listed as “pistol free” areas. Unfortunately, a glitch in state law regarding pistol-free areas prohibits gun owners from openly carrying guns in schools unless they have aconcealed carry permit. Then they cannot carry a concealed weapon, but they can carry it openly.

Yes, you read that right. Open carry is prohibited in schools. So is concealed carry. But if you have a concealed carry license, you can carry openly. The obvious answer is to just close the loophole so schools — the very first entity listed on the list of pistol free areas — are truly gun-free zones, right?

Wrong. After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after so many horrible school shootings that there are just too many to remember — if you don’t believe that, check out this list of school shootings — Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville) believes the best way to close the loophole is to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring their weapons into schools.

SB442 would allow those with a concealed carry permit to bring their guns to parent-teacher conferences, board meetings, daddy-daughter dances, basketball games, any activity in a school.

This is the point in the column where I’m required to cite the data on suicides, homicides and accidental deaths related to the prevalence of guns in our society. There is no shortage of data. I’d encourage readers to visit the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence web page to review the staggering evidence the exaggerated extension of our right to bear arms to virtually every venue is deadly, destructive and costly.

But this is also where the Second Amendment advocates make the claim that an armed society is a polite society. That the presence of guns would have prevented many of the murders, murder-suicides and outright massacres cited in the Wikipedia list of school shootings cited earlier.

Data tortured will confess to anything.

Here’s what I ask of you. If you believe schools should be “pistol-free zones,” as originally intended in state law, and the only people who should carry guns in schools are sworn law enforcement officers, please contact your legislator and your school board member to make your opinion known.

To borrow a famous phrase from the past, I suspect you’re part of the silent majority. There’s no shortage of Second Amendment advocates willing to test their right to carry weapons, but those who believe otherwise would rather avoid the fight. We live in a state where hunting is part of our lore, where the first day of firearm deer season is virtually a state holiday. Suggesting we should limit the right to own and bear arms is almost sacrilegious.

I’m not saying gun owners shouldn’t have the right to own guns, to protect themselves, their families and to use them for recreational purposes. I’m just saying they don’t belong in schools. I suspect most of you agree.

Please contact your legislator to let him or her know how you feel. If you’re from Michigan, click here.

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Ron Koehler
Ron Koehler
Ron Koehler is the Kent ISD Superintendent and offers his commentary on issues in education.


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