Thursday, September 13, 2007

“Gun Free” Zones versus the Right to Self-Protection

America in general is facing a fundamental question – do teachers give up the right of self-protection because school policy dictates that the campus is a “gun free zone”. The issue has reached a head in Medford, Oregon where a divorced teacher with a restraining order against her abusive ex-husband is filing suit against the school district because the district will not allow her to carry her semiautomatic pistol on campus.

The issue gained headlines across the state, including a recent story in The Oregonian. As expected, the first three paragraphs of the article are typical anti-Second Amendment emotional twaddle and fear mongering indicating that the case was “certain to set off alarm bells in schools across the state.” However Oregon State Law is clear – individuals with a concealed carry permit may carry firearms on public property – and that includes schools. Many districts, however, forbid teachers and in many cases the general public from carrying on school grounds.

The lawsuit was precipitated by recent actions of the school where the plaintiff teaches. She states, “My administrator told me . . . that if they had any reason to suspect I was [carrying a weapon] I would be searched, I would be arrested and the board would take action against me." Although The Oregonian didn’t report the full details, the plaintiff indicated that the threats of arrest and disciplinary action were done in the administrator’s office with shades drawn and a police officer present. Because of these abusive and heavy-handed tactics, the Oregon Firearms Federation has taken the case and is ensuring the legal expenses of the teacher are covered.

As expected The Oregonian followed up their already yellow journalism with an even more ridiculous editorial covering the issue. The author tries to tread a fine line between the rights of a battered woman to defend herself, but insists that the danger is too great:

“This Medford teacher's story should inspire determination to help women in this state keep their names off the long list of domestic violence victims. This teacher and all other women in this situation deserve all the help this state can give.

“But the dream case for allowing concealed weapons in schools turns out to be a nightmare -- the perfect illustration, as well, of why guns don't belong there.”

I honestly can’t believe the hubris and Pollyannaish naiveté of the author here. “The state” can’t protect everyone all the time. It’s not their job, nor SHOULD it be their job. Our nation was built by people who took responsibility for their OWN safety – and the rule of law in this country is set up with that foundation in mind. The editorial writer even goes so far to suggest that it would be okay for an “armed guard” to accompany the teacher, but heaven forbid the teacher act as her own armed guard!

However, in a move that shocked me, the response to The Oregonian’s blatantly anti-gun stance did not go unchallenged – and the paper printed not one, but THREE very strong rebuttals to the editorial. Bob Jensen makes several excellent points in his letter:

“I always wonder what goes through the minds of students and their instructors just before assassins gun them down. They are helpless. How many of those victims, if given a chance, would fight back?

“What did the Virginia Tech professor think as he was riddled with bullets, or the others who died while crouching in a corner? How about Columbine? These people should have had a right to protect themselves. But bureaucratic regulations designed to protect individuals actually put them in more danger.

“We can never know if these human tragedies might have been different if a teacher with a concealed gun permit had been able to intervene.”

Ed Rea, Jr, makes a similar point:

“We'll never know the answer for sure, but we do know that the "gun-free" policy made Virginia Tech a free fire zone. And it makes any school with that policy vulnerable to the same kind of tragedy.”

I’m quite frankly heartened to see a pro-Second Amendment and pro-personal responsibility point-of-view finally making it onto the editorial pages of The Oregonian. It will be interesting to see not only how this court case progresses, but the response of the Oregon legislature (if any) on the issue. I’ll continue to follow this issue closely!

Until next time!!!