This winter, the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1087, the fear- and hype- and gun-worship-driven school gunslinger bill. Since passage of that law, we've had one school shooting (an incident in which a teenager was horsing around outside with a pistol he thought was unloaded... an incident which the presence of school gunslingers would not have prevented and could quite possibly have made worse), but we haven't had a single school implement this policy:
Attorney General Marty Jackley, whose office is in charge of writing training rules for school sentinels, said a few school board members have asked about the program but no district has notified him that it's voted to use it ["SD Schools Slow to Use Law Allowing Armed Teachers," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2013.06.29].
How does the bill's sponsor explain this reluctance to imperil children with more firearms in school?
The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said he expects school districts will take their time in deciding whether to embrace the program.
"Some folks are going to watch and see what it looks like the first year," Craig said [AP, 2013.06.29].
Watching to see what what looks like? If no one implements it, what's there to see? And why would anyone wait? The Legislature rushes ahead and passes bad education policy without evidence or attention to experts. Why on earth wouldn't school administrators and school boards, people who deal with education and their community's children directly, act with the same reckless haste? Gee, Scott, might there be a message there?
Rep. Craig keeps screaming safety!
"It's safety. It's the premise, the appearance of safety, that we protect that which we hold most valuable, which is our children," Craig said [AP, 2013.06.29].
It's nice that Rep. Scott admits his bill is just about appearances. Fortunately, your school boards and educators are committed to real safety policies:
Associations representing school boards, school administrators and teachers opposed the measure, saying they believe putting more guns in schools just makes them more dangerous.
"We still believe the schools are extremely safe places," said Rob Monson, executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota.
Monson said he hasn't heard of any school district that's adopted the program, but schools are working to make entrances more secure and take other steps to improve safety [AP, 2013.06.29].
To sell his bill, Rep. Scott hyped fears of our children sitting in "defenseless" schools. Yet an RCJ report this morning cites a school safety expert who says schools are safer now than they were 30 years ago and that school shootings are about as big a concern as lightning strikes. Rep. Scott included the dog-whistle shout of terrorism in his original draft of HB 1087. As another RCJ report notes this weekend, South Dakota has no specific domestic or foreign terrorism threat. But that's how the South Dakota Legislature works: they manufacture fears to justify passage of ideologically motivated legislation that, given a choice, the experts in education don't want to use.