Thursday, March 1, 2018

A List Of Incidents Caused By Legal Gun Owners On School Grounds


Every time there's a school shooting, the NRA and pro-gun forces come out of the woodwork again to say that schools, as "gun free zones," are targets for shooters, and that arming teachers and school staff is the only way to insure safety.  It's the myth of the "conceal carry hero" made into a school drama.

This lunacy came to a peak after the Sandy Hook shooting, when, after shameless silence, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre stepped up to the microphone and shocked the world by actually suggesting arming all schools, a move that was soundly rejected as insanity by nearly every national organization representing parents, teachers, and law enforcement, as well as the citizens of Newtown, and has no merit with any historical context, including when it failed to stop the Columbine shooting. Since then, the idea has been floated many times, including by various GOP legislators, extremist gun groups, and even President Trump after the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. States like Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi have introduced bills to follow through with this. And a handful of school systems have decided to do it, including here in Oregon. Legislators have even tried to encourage armed vigilantes to prowl school grounds in return for tax credits.

Two different studies (HERE and HERE) have shown that armed guards in schools make students feel less secure, possibly affecting their academic performance. Not that student perceptions really matter to the pro-gun forces trying to make these decisions.

But could they be right? An analysis by Everytown found that there was an average of two school shootings at K-12 schools every month between 2013-2015. A more recent examination for 2018 by Everytown found an average of one school shooting every 63 hours. With all those school shootings, shouldn't there, by now, have been some good examples where armed civilians other than police have stopped a school shooting? 

Well, no, actually. There has never been a school shooting stopped by an armed teacher or a citizen conceal-carry owner. The closest case I ever found was of a school staff member (and Army reservist commander) who went out to their car and got a gun, but the shooting was over by that point, the shooter was out of ammo and was driving out of the parking lot (the only reason he was stopped was that the shooter crashed his car, allowing the staff member to get to him and hold him under arrest).

However, there HAVE been plenty of cases where gun owners, legally carrying guns on school grounds, have CAUSED incidents on campus, including incidents that wound children, other adults, or themselves.

Here is a list of those incidents that I have found, which will be updated as I find more.  So far, it is up to TWENTY SIX incidents, resulting in the wounding of five children and five adults. Sixteen incidents were caused by police officers or security guards.

  • October 5, 2018:  A security guard at Somerset Academy Bay School in Kendall, FL, left his loaded gun in the bathroom. A fifth-grade child found the gun and immediately notified administrators at the school office. The guard was fired, but no charges were filed.
  • May 23, 2018:  A parent visiting a classroom an Early Childhood Center in Pittsburgh, PA, when a 3-year old reached into her purse and pulled out her loaded handgun. Luckily, the child was stopped before pulling the trigger. The woman was charged with possessing a weapon on school property and four counts of recklessly endangering another person.
  • April 18, 2018:  A parent visiting a school in Gladstone, Oregon, for a volleyball tournament left their loaded revolver in a bathroom stall. Luckily, a coach found the gun before any children, and turned it in to police. The owner had a conceal carry permit.
  • April 4, 2018:  A county sheriff left his loaded backup handgun in the stall of a middle school gym bathroom in Shepherd, Michigan. A sixth-grade boy found the gun and reported it. Luckily, the gun was not handled.
  • March 13, 2018:  A teacher and reserve police officer was giving a class on gun safety in his high school classroom in Seaside, CA, when he unintentionally fired his gun toward the ceiling. Bullet fragments wounded a 17-year old boy in the neck. Other students were injured by debris falling from the ceiling.
  • March 13, 2018:  A school resource officer unintentionally discharged his handgun inside an Alexandria, VA, middle school. Luckily no one was injured.
  • February 28, 2018: A high school social studies teacher in Dalton, Georgia, barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a shot from a handgun. Luckily, no one was injured, and he was taken into custody. He had a history of mental problems and violent behavior that had led, at one time, of having his guns removed.
  • February 5, 2018: A police officer was at an elementary school in Maplewood, MN, "building relationships" with 3rd and 4th graders when one little boy reached over and pulled the trigger on the officer's holstered handgun. The gun fired into the floor. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • September 13, 2016:  A school teacher at Cumberland Christian School, in Chambersburg, PA, left a loaded, unsecured handgun on a toilet in a bathroom. Four children, ages 6 to 8, went in the bathroom before one of the children reported the gun. Luckily, none of them fired the gun.
  • February 19, 2015:  A school resource officer at Western Wayne School District in Pennsylvania unintentionally fired his handgun in the school.  Luckily, no one was injured.
  • September 11, 2014:  A teacher was in the bathroom of a school in Taylorsville, Utah, when she unintentionally shot herself in the leg with her own handgun.
  • January 18, 2014:  An armed security guard left his weapon unattended in the bathroom, fully accessible to K-8 students, despite being a retired police weapons instructor.
  • January 18, 2014: Two police officers serving as school resource officers decided to clean their guns while on the grounds of an Akron, Ohio, high school. One of them unintentionally discharged his gun. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • October 24, 2013:  A police officer left his loaded AR-15 assault rifle strapped to his motorcycle while visiting an elementary school.  A boy pulled the trigger, firing the weapon and leading to a shrapnel injury of three kids.
  • August 24, 2013:  A SWAT police officer was giving a presentation at an elementary school in Lodi, California, when a 6-8 year old boy fired the officer's holstered gun, hitting the officer in the leg.
  • May 15, 2013:  A Winchester, PA, police officer boarded a special needs school bus to calm a student. After the officer sat next to him, the child reached over and pulled the trigger on the officer's handgun, discharging a round into the bus seat and floor. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • May 14, 2013:  A school staffer with a conceal carry permit was offering a ride to a student, in the parking lot of a high school in Aurora, Colorado, when he unintentionally fired his legally concealed handgun, hitting the student in the leg.
  • April 16, 2013: A Boy Scout troop leader, who was also a retired police officer and conceal carry permit holder, dropped a fanny pack containing his gun while attending a scout meeting inside a Des Plains, Illinois, grade school. The gun discharged, striking him in the leg. No one else was injured.
  • March 6, 2013:  A recently-started armed resource officer program at schools in Highland, New York, was suspended after one of the security guards unintentionally fired his weapon in school Children were present, but luckily no one was injured.
  • March 1, 2013:  During a conceal carry training class, on school grounds, which was part of a new program to arm school staff, a school maintenance worker who was a student in the class unintentionally fired his weapon, wounding himself in the leg.
  • January 17, 2013:  A charter school in Lapeer, Michigan, decided to start having an armed guard on campus.  Three days after hiring a guard, the man left his weapon in a school bathroom where kids could have found it.
  • October 8, 2012:  A man with a concealed handgun visited an elementary school classroom in Moore, Oklahoma, to help the teacher with her computer.  His gun fell out and he left without it, only realizing it was missing after the media reported it.  Small children were present in the room at the time.
  • March 22, 2012:  A volunteer track coach at John Mall High School in Walsenburg, Colorado, unintentionally shot himself in the leg with his new .40 caliber Glock handgun, nearly bleeding to death.  He was in his vehicle in the parking lot of the school sports complex.
  • December 8, 2011:  A janitor with a conceal carry permit was working on ceiling tiles in a preschool classroom in Waterbury, Connecticut, when he took off his gun belt.  He then left the loaded gun in the classroom and forgot about it. Monday morning, teachers came in the room and found the gun, only moments before 3- and 4-year olds entered the room.
  • September 12, 2011:  An armed security guard, patrolling schools at night in Salem, Oregon, unintentionally lost his loaded firearm somewhere during his rounds The gun was never found.
  • May 12, 2011:  A school resource officer was cleaning his gun, while in the school building, and unintentionally fired the gun. The round went through the wall and into the nurse's room where there were two student, the nurse, and another adult. Luckily, no one was injured.

[By the way, this list doesn't include shootings by adults who are simply behaving badly on school grounds, such as arguments in the parking lot, like this one, this one, or this one, or shootings by children who bring guns to school. The list would be FAR longer. Instead, this list just focuses on "law-abiding" school staff, teachers, security, or anyone else who might be expected to protect kids with their guns, as the NRA argues.]

I urge you to save this list. The next time you hear a pro-gun supporter suggest that guns in school is a good idea, whether it is from a legislator, school board, or some gun guy off the street, please show them this list and challenge them to show you a comparable list of incidents that support their side. They'll come up with crickets. 
February 28, 2018, Dalton, GA

And you might also remind them that school shootings have been stopped by school staff... unarmed.  Like this one, who said "If I had had a gun on me, we'd have all been dead." There's also this one and this one. 

The idea of arming school teachers and staff is wrongheaded and flies in the face of the facts and common sense. Instead of turning our classrooms into guardrooms and our schools into fortresses, let's work to keep guns out of the wrong hands in the first place with better, common sense gun regulations.

ADDENDUM (5/7/18): A related article citing 30 incidents by armed adults at schools, collected from the Gun Violence Archive.