Columbine Survivor Wants to Arm Teachers

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On April 20, 1999, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an attack on Columbine High School in Colorado. Armed with pipe bombs, propane bombs, handguns, carbines, and shotguns, the two opened fire at 11:19am. In the ensuing massacre, the two managed to kill 12 students, murder a teacher, and injure another 21 people, some of whom are still living with their debilitating injuries to this day. Satisfied with their accomplishments, the two committed suicide.

The event shocked the country, leading to renewed efforts to protect the nation’s schools with tougher gun laws, zero-tolerance policies, and other efforts that have proven to be utterly unsuccessful. 16 years later, though, a Colorado state lawmaker who happened to be a student at Columbine at the time of the attack is proposing to take a different approach.

Republican Patrick Neville is proposing a bill that would allow guns on public school grounds. Having survived what was, at the time, the deadliest school shooting in American history, Neville believes that arming teachers is a step towards preventing these mass shootings in the future. “This bill,” says Neville, “will allow honest, law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm for protection if they choose to. But most importantly, it will give them the right to be equipped to defend our children from the most dangerous situations.”

Colorado’s congress is controlled by Democrats, making the bill a long-shot for passage. But by proposing the bill in the first place, Neville may reignite a debate over whether we should give teachers the power to protect themselves. Critics say that such measures would only lead to accidents and escalations. Proponents say that, as the law stands now, students and teachers are sitting ducks.

Fighting A Difficult Fight

Even for those who think the gun control left has long since abandoned their senses, the thought of teachers packing heat is a frightening one. And, to be sure, it’s a dreadful thought. But we are at the point of considering dreadful options. It would be nice to live in a world where we didn’t have to take such dramatic measures. But as Columbine and Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech and many other incidents have proven, we don’t live in that world. And we must be realistic about the threats our teachers and children face.

School shootings do not occur as frequently as people like Michael Bloomberg would like us to believe, but their reality can’t be ignored. And as Columbine showed, these attackers are stopped only when they choose to stop. If Harris and Klebold had had come face to face with an armed teacher, their massacre might have ended before so many people lost their lives.

Zero tolerance policies, where we expel children for pointing paper guns at each other on the playground, are not getting the job done. They are a frivolous band-aid on a problem that deserves real solutions. Until someone proposes a solution better than allowing teachers to protect themselves and their students, we need to seriously consider this path.