Rapid City writer Ken Steinken expands on the theme I mentioned last week of the Legislature's flip-flops between evidence and emotion. Steinken contends that evidence about real shooting situations supports the educators and law enforcement officials who see House Bill 1087, the school gunslinger bill that our Legislature approved on emotion, putting our kids at greater risk of being shot:
Each year the New York City police department issues a report that analyzes every instance a bullet is fired by one of its 35,000 officers in the line of duty. For 2011 the Annual Firearms Discharge Report estimated that the officers encountered 23 million civilians.
Over the course of the entire year in those millions of interactions there were only 92 times an officer fired his gun. In those 92 instances 19 people were injured and 9 people killed.
My question is where did the rest of the bullets go? Unlike what we sometimes see in movies, police officers only choose to use deadly force when they intend to make somebody dead. They are trained to shoot to kill.
So these qualified professionals were successful less than 10 percent of the time in delivering a fatal shot. They totally missed their target more than 70 percent of the time. Seven out of every 10 bullets discharged potentially strikes an unintended target [Ken Steinken, "Lawmakers: Facts for Texting Ban; Fear for School Guns," Black Hills Knowledge Network via KOTA, 2013.03.06].
Steinken asks us to consider what that high stray-bullet rate will mean in a crowded school where my daughter is trying to get to recess.
Steinken can speak with authority on how to deal with a school shooting. He was present for the closest thing to a school shooting South Dakota has ever seen:
...I was a teacher at Rapid City Stevens High School in September, 1991. So I have been in a school with an armed gunman in the building.
I talked with my fellow teacher, who left his classroom when his 22 students insisted he do so because they were afraid that their classmate-turned-hostage taker might pull the trigger of the shotgun he stared down the barrel of while trying to dissuade his student from following through with his plan.
I interviewed the student who patiently waited for the right moment, four hours after the siege began, when his classmate dropped his guard for an instant allowing him to grab the gun.
We didn’t need more guns in school that day.
Clear-headed, calm, courageous thinking by a caring teacher, the student who grabbed the gun and the law enforcement tactical team, who chose to bypass several clear shots they had to kill the armed student, resolved the crisis without creating unnecessary additional trauma [Steinken, 2013.03.06].
A school gunslinger would not have changed the outcome of the 1991 Rapid City Stevens incident... at least not for the better. And as Steinken says, we do harm to our kids, our education system, and our culture as a whole when we respond to fear with more violence.
Governor Daugaard, surprise us. Look at the evidence. Listen to teachers like Steinken. Veto House Bill 1087.