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Editor’s Notebook

To Stop School Shootings

by Gila Hayes

Much hyperbole will be trumpeted in the wake of the Sparks, NV school shooting about the need to arm teachers, in light of the courageous intervention by teacher and USMC and National Guard veteran Mike Landsberry, who witnesses said approached the shooter and tried to make him put down the gun. Landsberry’s heroic intervention protected others at the school, and was given at the cost of his life.

Without knowing the math teacher’s political leanings, much will be written in the days, weeks and months to come about how a gun would have let Landsberry, a veteran who served in the Nevada Air National Guard in Afghanistan, stop the 12-year old shooter and come out of it alive. We agree–qualified educators who wish to carry concealed handguns for defense certainly must not be denied the most basic human right of preserving one’s own life and the lives of those in his or her care.

Perhaps some long-term good can be drawn from Landsberry’s sacrifice, if more states can be convinced to join the few that have successfully legislated procedures allowing teachers to go to work armed. Arkansas, Texas, Utah, Kansas and South Dakota come immediately to mind, though legislative efforts have been introduced in additional statehouses, and in the wake of the Sparks, NV shooting, are nearly certain to be reenergized.

Any steps undertaken to genuinely protect teachers and students deserve our support. There is, however, one sadly neglected aspect of responsible gun ownership that too many do not practice. You know the four universal rules of gun safety and practice them, but can you guarantee that none of your firearms will be accessible to anyone other than yourself or responsible adult family members? Do you ever leave a gun unattended by your bed, in your briefcase or purse, or somewhere else in the home? Do you believe your gun-hiding place is secret from your children and subsequently, from their friends? Really?

At the time of this writing, little has been released about the Sparks, NV shooter. Even if we did know his personal history, I would not give it publicity for fear of encouraging other immature attention-seekers to follow the same route. At the time of this writing, all we know is that a 12-year old did have access to a handgun. As gun owners that should be all we need to know to collectively change the irresponsible mistakes we make when we fail to lock up any handgun not under our immediate control.

Our part of the solution is real simple: Get a gun safe or lock box. When you are not in immediate control of your guns, lock them up. Do not leave guns laying on the bed’s headboard, hidden under the couch cushions or beneath the car seat, in your brief case in your car while you run in to the courthouse, or any of the other lazy gambles made when we do not believe we are part of the problem.

Do not believe you are not at risk to become part of the school shooter problem because your home is in a remote area, because you have “good” kids or grandkids, because none of your guns have ever been stolen, or because of any other excuse you use to dodge your responsibility as a gun owner to lock up guns over which you do not have immediate control.

Just because your car or house has not been broken into before now, does not mean it cannot happen. It only means that a thief – possibly a young one who will take your gun to school – has not realized that your home or car contains something they would find very desirable: a gun.

lockboxGun safes are sold in a wide variety of sizes, security levels, and prices. Lock boxes to bolt to wall studs or car floorboards are even less costly and work for those owning only one or two guns. However, most gun owners are enthusiasts who own several firearms, often a couple of handguns–maybe a .22 and a larger, center-fire caliber pistol, and often a shotgun or rifle is added to a personal collection.