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House Passes School Gunslinger Bill; Manhood in Doubt

We tried. Rep. Scott Parsley (D-8/Madison) made one last try yesterday to get the Legislature to hold its fire on House Bill 1087, the school gunslinger bill, and take time to gather evidence that arming teachers, janitors, and other volunteers in our schools is necessary and effective. But when Republicans want to stroke their policy phalli, evidence and study are inconveniences. The House voted 40 to 19 (eleven legislators were out working on appropriations) to accept the Senate's amendments and send HB 1087 to the Governor, who I speculate is 95% likely to sign the bill into law and thus drive local school districts around the state into time-wasting debates about whether we should put kindergartners and firearms in the same room.

No one has been shot in our South Dakota gun-free school zones in the three months that we've been debating letting gunslingers act out their John Wayne fantasies in our schools. Meanwhile, over the past few days, two guys in Rapid City managed to shoot themselves while fiddling with their pistols. A third man drew a police visit after he thought it wise to point his new gun at things he didn't plan to shoot in the Kohl's parking lot.

Further afield, a Florida man hopped up on adrenaline opened fire on a fleeing shoplifter and sent stray bullets into at least two other cars. And in Texas, a school district that has adopted a policy like HB 1087 has seen its first shooting: a janitor took a bullet in the leg during the school's gunslinger training session.

But really, what could go wrong with putting guns in your children's classroom?

House Bill 1087 is a manifestation of the same baseless fear that has South Dakotans applying for concealed weapons permits at three times the rate they did last year. One eager reader's comment, that my opposition to HB 1087 is about wanting to "neuter everyone" gets me thinking that legislators and regular citizens alike are not engaged in serious threat assessment. They're wallowing in Viagra and Cialis and Mancore ads that tell them they are losing their manhood. They need pills and pistols to keep their testosterone up.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old student wrestled a gun away from a football player who threatened to shoot a teammate with a .22-caliber revolver on a school bus... proving that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with his bare hands and guts.


  1. LK 2013.03.05

    Allow me to make a couple of predictions.

    First, about a week after the bill becomes law, the supporters will crow that no one has been shot since the bill passed; therefore, those of us who oppose this legislation were merely fear mongers.

    Second, when something bad happens because of a pistolier's actions, the same group will claim that there was nothing wrong with the concept. It was the school's fault for giving the wrong person a gun or for providing inadequate training.

  2. Steve Sibson 2013.03.05

    "proving that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with his bare hands and guts"

    Sadly the principle from Sandy Hook is not around anymore to hear you say such nonsense. She tried to stop a bad guy with a gun with "bare hands and guts". You call that manhood?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.05

    LK, that's the beauty of the specious local-control argument: legislators will claim all the tough-guy NRA brownie points they can for passing this bill, but then they'll be able to run from accepting any responsibility for the policy impacts. That's why they wrote all the liability exemptions into it. All glory, no guts.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.05

    Steve, I will not be bullied into accepting bad public policy. If I could, I would look those brave teachers in the eye and say the things I say here. I would say it to their survivors. And if I were in charge of the school the surviving Sandy Hook teachers and students now attend, I would vow to keep them safe by keeping guns out of their school. Manhood and more importantly citizenship are about sensible, evidence-based policy, not living in fear.

  5. LK 2013.03.05

    "She tried to stop a bad guy with a gun with "bare hands and guts". You call that manhood?

    I call it courage. What do you call it Steve?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.05

    (By the way, the principal is sadly gone, but her principles of protecting and educating students live on. That's why I oppose bringing guns to school. We teach and protect our children better by leaving our guns at home.)

  7. Steve Sibson 2013.03.05

    "We teach and protect our children better by leaving our guns at home."

    Sandy Hook and Columbine has proved you wrong. Had a brave citizen(s) been their to use force agains like force, children would have had a chance. What you are currently teaching children is to fear guns, remove constitutional rights, and agree to remove American sovereignty and join a socialist federation of nation-states. A world-wide totalitarian police state.

  8. larry kurtz 2013.03.05

    Blowing Snow Fog/Mist and Windy. Temp: 23 ° F. Wind: Northwest 32 mph.

    It must truly suck to be you, Sib.

  9. Rorschach 2013.03.05

    Paraphrasing Jose Martinez: "The guy was trying to steal a loaf of bread. Honestly, I don't know why they arrested me for shooting up his car and trying to kill him. Those other cars I shot were just an accident."

  10. Dana P. 2013.03.05

    "good guy with a gun will solve the problem of a bad guy with a gun". sigh. The "conditioning" that is going on that guns solve all problems, is concerning beyond belief. I'm so glad that corrections Officer Taylor wasn't conditioned that the only way that she could solve this incident that happened was with a gun. Otherwise, she and others, probably would have been killed.

    The more guns that are introduced into any given setting, sets off a higher percentage and liklihood that there will be an "incident", rather than defense of innocents. Conservative David Frum specifically details these facts (based on REAL data, btw) that "An American is 50% more likely to be shot dead by his or her own hand than to be shot dead by a criminal assailant."

    It is sad that this discussion and decision making has gone beyond a serious discussion about ways to decrease gun violence (our state pol's blamed mental illness, then turns down a bill that would address the mentally ill and gun possession) This isn't about "abolishing guns" or "taking away gun rights". And to say that is what it is about, is not dealing with reality. It is just throwing red meat, that's all.

  11. Mark Schuler 2013.03.05

    I think declaring schools a gun free zone is a free pass for crazies to go wild to get the most kills and then the media constantly talking about it so the next crazy trys to out do the one before. If you declare a gun free zone,do so quietly as you can, don't shout it from the mountain tops. State it, shut up! Do not go on a media frenzy and hammer the point for weeks! While times have changed, I realize things need to follow change, what that answer is, I don't know! The media (tv) is to blame for keeping it and viewing it from every angle doesn't change what happened! They (tv) glorify it! Maybe the answer is someone to have a gun in school, let it be known without telling everybody in the nation. Let it be known school yard is a gun free zone for students amongst the student body, state it quietly. No one can predict a crazy unless its obvious, keep guns from them, enforce laws we have to put criminals away. Criminals will always have guns,until that activity is detoured, we will always have a problem! If something evil happens(God forbid) don't let the media harp on it for days and days! State it, shut up! Move on! Education about gun handeling, maybe's a start! But that will only work in midwestern states where the people use it as a tool.. Just like a gun, a knife, razor blades , glass bottles, etc are tools! Common sence needs to be taught in schools, ( which I think is lacking). When one is angry, common sence goes to the backseat, and anger to the fore front! While I don't have a sure fire answer for this, common sence won't hurt infiltrating this conversation!

  12. Dana P. 2013.03.05

    Steve much as you have been reminded of this, I'll try again. There was an ARMED POLICE OFFICER at Columbine who got into a gun battle with the two suspects. By the time that he engaged them, (which was within a minute after the shooting started), their victims has already been shot and/or shot and killed. They wandered through the school then, for several minutes trying make their homemade bombs explode, etc....then they went into the library and committed suicide.

  13. WayneB 2013.03.05

    I don't know about that, Cory... According to this Times article, gun safety education has done amazing things at reducing accidental shootings. Maybe we should get police officers in the schools teaching gun safety... add it to the list of things parents ought to teach, but don't (along with safer sex practices, how to be civil, and how to do your taxes).

    We need to teach a healthy respect for firearms. We shouldn't fear them. Nor should we glorify them "John Wayne style".

  14. TCMack 2013.03.05

    So, LK makes a good point in his first comment about the law. The question of who is responsible for the actions of the sentinel. Proponents of the bill will blame the school board or administrators who allowed the sentinel on the premises. By blaming the board, it absolves the state and county of all liability.

    But the key question I have is if my child would get shot in the next couple of years can I sue the state for endangering my child? The sentinel bill was not asked by school districts, and was not a public outcry.

    Second question as I am sitting here can the school districts sue the State for putting them in a higher liability because of this bill? With this bill passing will overall insurance rates for schools be higher?

    If insurance rates are going up won't that take away from education?

  15. Steve Sibson 2013.03.05

    "There was an ARMED POLICE OFFICER at Columbine"

    Yes Dana, Columbine was/is an example of a totalitarian police state. What would have been the result if their were a couple dozen Sentinals on site?

    What role did violent video games, shrinks and their drugs play at Columbine?

  16. Douglas Wiken 2013.03.05

    "Maybe we should get police officers in the schools teaching gun safety... add it to the list of things parents ought to teach, but don't (along with safer sex practices, how to be civil, and how to do your taxes).

    We need to teach a healthy respect for firearms. We shouldn't fear them. Nor should we glorify them "John Wayne style"."

    Nothing like having cops discuss sensible use of guns when they routinely shoot people escaping in the back and shoot them multiple times because they appear to be holding a large knife and "threatening" the cop.

    Or apparently hold up their bare hands and try to stop a vehicle driving at them.

    Cop sense is often just one more oxymoron.

  17. Shelly 2013.03.05

    Sibson's comment above reminds me of something my mother used to say: Some people will bitch even if you hang them with a new rope.

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