School Board member floats idea of guns in elementary schools
Prove to me why keeping a gun in each Loudoun County elementary school wouldn’t be a cheap and effective school shooting deterrent, asked School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg), in the comment section of a TooConservative.com blog post titled “Since Nothing Else Works, Arm the Principals.”
The post and Fox’s comments come after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook, Conn. left 26 children and adults dead.
Fox estimates it would cost $100,000 to buy a gun safe with a fingerprint lock, a tactical firearm (he suggests a semi-automatic shotgun as an example) and provide initial training for three school staff members.
He says the cost would be $50,000 a year annually to keep training employees to use the firearms.
“For the sake of argument ... I would like to hear what people perceive to be the realistic worst and best case scenarios of such an action, as well as a cost/benefit analysis based on the numbers above and likely outcomes,” Fox says in his comment, dated 11:22 p.m. Dec. 19. “Now, I understand that many think the mere suggestion is insane, and I get that ... I would invite those who believe this is the worst idea in the history of public schools to construct likely scenarios which indicate the wrongheadedness of this approach. Likewise, a mere vote of support is not particularly helpful either.”
Fox said Thursday afternoon that he has no plans to propose what he outlined on TooConservative.com be used in Loudoun County schools and he was instead hoping for an open dialogue on the issue. He reiterated that he not arguing for what he posted, but looking for dialogue on the issue.
“When it comes to protecting our children, no solution should be off the table,” Fox said. “All I’m suggesting is at this point we have a discussion with both the community and experts in security policy.”
He said he occasionally reads the site and he hoped his comment would generate meaningful responses. He said discussion of the topic in the larger public sphere was usually met with a knee-jerk reaction.
“You’re called crazy without any offering of what this would really look like,” Fox said.
He hoped that wouldn’t happen on the site because the story he commented on suggested arming principals.
The poster of the story, “Lloyd the Idiot,” said that allowing, not requiring school administrators to have weapons on school campuses was what was needed to deter potential school shooters.
“I propose that the General Assembly clear the way for school boards to allow administrators to have guns on campus,” Lloyd said. “At minimum, it should commission a study on the topic.”
Currently, Virginia law prohibits anyone who isn’t a law enforcement officer from carrying a loaded gun on public school property.
Citizens with concealed carry permits may possess a weapon on school property as long as they don’t exit their vehicle, according to Virginia state law.
Several of those who responded were decidedly against the idea. One poster, Ed Meyers, suggested that schools instead use stun or taser guns.
“That way when the kids accidentally get ahold of the principal’s gun they can’t kill themselves or others,” he said.
Fox considered a stun gun completely inadequate for safety purposes.
“But no cop in the history of law enforcement has responded to an assailant with a semiautomatic weapon by attempting to disable him with a friggan’ taser,” Fox said.
Fox again repeated at 1:39 a.m. that no posters had offered him statistics or concrete scenarios disproving or proving the idea.
“I would like to know the basis of your contention that a gun in the context I have described above is likely to be used improperly,” Fox said. “I am talking about a gun kept in a safe that will never come out of said safe unless there is an armed intruder, or for training purposes under the supervision of an expert.”
He continued that he was looking for statements based on evidence.
“Again, I am asking for realistic scenarios supporting your contention that this is a ‘bad, bad idea’ or that ‘someone innocent will get hurt,’” Fox said. “Unsupported conclusory statements like these just don’t advance the analysis.”
He also said that since firearms account for less than one percent of accidental deaths and roughly half of American households have them, he said it was an overstatement that a gun would likely be misused.
Fox said in an earlier post that he wasn’t taking any solution off the table.
“So I don’t think any solution, including having some sort of tactical firearm in every school, should simply be brushed aside because it conflicts with a certain worldview or sentiments about guns,” Fox said. “Now, we might decide that arming our schools is not practical. … But I can tell you one thing for sure: such determinations should be made by safety and security experts who have carefully considered the issue, not by bloggers who are so afraid of guns that they don’t know which end the projectile comes out.”
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said Thursday afternoon he hadn’t talked with Fox, but that there were no plans to bring up what Fox posted online at any future school board meeting.
He called the idea “logistically impossible,” and said he had received emails from constituents concerned about school safety, most of whom suggested metal detectors or shatterproof windows.
“I highly doubt Loudoun County is ready for that,” Hornberger said of the idea.
Fox isn’t the first to float the idea, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) addressed the possibility of allowing school officials to carry firearms on campus.
“I know there is a knee-jerk reaction against that, but I think we should have a discussion about it,” McDonnell told radio station WTOP Tuesday.
Loudoun County Democratic Chairman Evan Macbeth issued a statement Thursday afternoon stating he opposed efforts by State Sen. Dick Black (R-4th) and Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th) to require gun training for at least one employee of every Virginia public school.
“The fact that Senator Black supports such wrong-headed and nonsensical legislation is offensive. In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy we require serious solutions to address gun violence in our
country,” Macbeth said. “In a nation where guns have been the second-leading cause of death of children aged 10 to 19, requiring that guns be present in our schools makes the problem worse, not better.”