Dear Rep. Savannah Maddox,
I read that you have introduced legislation to allow teachers to carry firearms in schools and, more recently, to prohibit colleges and universities from regulating or banning concealed-carry firearms on campuses.
While I applaud your effort to keep our children safe, I ask you to consider a simple question: What makes you think those bills will do any good?
I don’t ask this facetiously or with ill intent. Like you, I genuinely want to find a way to reduce gun violence. But I learned during years of running businesses (newspapers) that simple solutions are almost always wrong and that success depends on following best practices backed by research and experience, not anecdotal evidence or knee-jerk reactions.
So, my question to you is, where has arming teachers led to a significant decline in gun violence in schools? What studies back up those experiences?
If you are truly serious, you should hold hearings with experts from the Secret Service, ATF, and FBI, as well as the many academics who write peer-reviewed studies and national organizations that can present you with facts about what prevents gun violence in schools.
During those hearings, you could probe why most law enforcement organizations, teachers and faculty groups, higher education officials, and campus security organizations oppose the idea. You could also learn about what they think would help.
For instance, one step many states have found effective is educating parents on the need to secure their weapons. That’s because some 80 percent of people who carry out mass murders at schools got their weapons from a family member, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice.
Twenty-four states (red and blue) have various versions of Children Access Prevention laws. Could those work here?
The same lessons from business apply to higher education. Is there any evidence anywhere that allowing guns on college campuses makes them safer? It clearly doesn’t for states. Statistics show that states with the highest percentage of gun ownership have more gun deaths. For example, Texas had more gun deaths than any other state and a gun death rate 3.5 times higher than New York, according to the CDC’s 2020 statistics, the most recent available.
I am not asking you to violate anyone’s right to bear arms. As legal experts can testify, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in District of Columbia v. Heller that laws forbidding firearms in schools do not violate the Second Amendment.
Historians could tell you that Scalia, a strict constructionist, followed our Founding Fathers’ example. James Madison, who wrote the Bill of Rights, and Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, agreed in creating the University of Virginia that no student should “keep or use weapons or arms of any kind” on campus.
So, are you serious, or do you just want to “own the libs” by sneaking in such a momentous bill at the last minute? Sadly, I think I know the answer.
Written by John Winn Miller, who is an award-winning investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, editor, publisher, screenwriter, indie movie producer, and novelist. This editorial first appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Posted with permission of Mr. Miller.