Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guns and Schools Don’t Mix

In 2007, about 3,000 children and teens died as a result of gun violence in the United States. That’s eight children a day. In fact, during the five years ending in 2009 (the last year for which data are available), over 15,000 children and teens in the U.S. died as a result of gun violence. These are children like the many you might see getting into school buses at the freezing hours of the morning.

Some gun lobbyists say that the answer to these deaths is more guns. They assert that bringing concealed weapons into an area will increase the safety of that area. They couldn’t be more wrong. In 2005, a study in North Carolina determined that workplaces where guns were permitted were about five times as likely to experience a homicide as workplaces where all weapons were prohibited. This suggests that rather than making a place more safe, allowing guns can make a place more dangerous.

That’s why it’s vital to prohibit guns in schools in order to keep our children safe. We currently have laws prohibiting people from bringing guns onto most federal properties, a reasonable prohibition meant to keep those areas safer from gun violence. It makes sense to extend that ban onto public school campuses.

For many years, Oregon’s public colleges have prohibited guns on campus, including guns carried by concealed handgun license (CHL) holders. A gun organization sued, however, and last September the Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated the longstanding administrative rule, finding that it was preempted by a state statute. As a result, people with CHLs can now carry loaded, hidden handguns on Oregon's public college campuses.

Some people are insisting that they are also entitled to bring their loaded, hidden handguns into high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools throughout Oregon. They have, for example, already strong-armed the Newberg School District into dropping its ban on guns in schools.

In response, the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence through education and providing opportunities to dispose of unwanted firearms, has created a petition asking for signatures from those who believe that concealed guns should not be allowed on school campuses. This petition is important in helping to show that people in Oregon believe that schools are no place for guns. The more people who sign petitions like this one, the louder the voices standing against gun violence can be heard.

Please also join the movement at our Books Not Bullets website and add your name to the pledge.

(updated with minor changes 3/7/12)