Florida Rep. Dennis Baxley says kids will be safer if teachers are armed
In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary legislators in states across the country are calling for changes in laws that prohibit guns from being brought on to school campuses.
One Florida lawmaker who has been a vocal advocate for doing away with what he calls â€œgun free zonesâ€ is Representative Dennis Baxley. The Ocala Republican helped sponsor the controversial â€œStand Your Groundâ€ law that is now playing itself out in court in the Trayvon Martin killing.
Baxley says â€œin our zeal to keep people safer by creating gun free zones, we have inadvertently created a sterile target for deranged killers.â€ He believes our schools would be safer if principals and teachers were authorized to carry guns. Baxley recently spoke with WMNFâ€™s Lisa Marzilli about his controversial views.
"I'm simply raising that reality that that observation and saying, 'Let's look at that and say what's wrong with the picture, what could we do?' We need to answer the President's question, 'what could we do to make our children safer?' "
It is hard to argue that having had someone at Sandy Hook elementary who was trained enough to have disabled Lanza as he was mowing down these six and seven year olds, it wouldn't have been a bad thing. So having armed teachers in schools has it's rewards in a perfect setting but what are the risks? Do you acknowledge that there are any risks with having guns in the classroom?
"Oh absolutely. I think that's the purview of school boards and security planners to sort through this. I'm just putting this reality on the table and saying this should be part of the equation as we plan better safety plans and I don't know exactly what form or shape that comes. Obviously many teachers and administrators would not want to embrace that responsibility and should not be asked to. What makes us safer in terms of this public policy is the randomness that they know we can be armed. You're not required to be armed but a perpetrator always has to measure the risk that everyone that he confronts, a law abiding citizen, has the authority to be prepared to stop them. That randomness is what protects all of us. Not just the ones who choose to engage in accepting that responsibility. One scenario could be have an emergency stock of armaments and individuals that are already know they're on that protection team that would know what to do in the case of an emergency. I just look at these teachers at Sandy Hook and what we've asked of them is unbearable. That you're protecting kids but we've no, made no preparation and here they are charging down the hall to stop this, basically charging hell without even a water pistol. And I'm not requiring that every instructor, everybody in education engage in embracing this responsibility but why not examine and say 'what plan could we make to empower those people who are willing to take responsibility and have the capability and backround to intervene because we all know, in fact, there's nothing that will stop that person who is on that mission but a good person with a firearm or someway to disable that perpetrator.' "
What about parents who don't own guns, who don't allow their children to be in places where there are guns be it friends or overnights. Where do their rights stop if they are parents of public school children and they're now faced with having to have their child sit in a classroom where there's a loaded gun or unloaded and potentially loaded gun?
"I think any safety plan definitely should be conscious of that and I'll press that issue and it should be done in a way, I'm not asking open carry for every school personnel individual so that guns are in and around the students all the time. That's not the picture that I see. I see a picture where there's an emergency plan, there are armaments to deal with an emergency plan and they're under a restricted environment. Obviously we want students to feel safe, we don't want them to feel that they live in a fire zone all the time and to be fearful. But also that's just a fact of our society that we do make provision for safety reasons to stop violent acts and that is a reality in our culture. Ultimately I respect parental rights and they should, if they're uncomfortable with any particular school setting and how it's set up they should move their children to another school."
So the onus would be on them to do something to move their child?
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"It's balancing those two risks, parental rights, property rights and then you have public safety responsibilities and how do you fit all that together and you have personal rights to defend yourself and others from harm. These things are always difficult and highly controversial because you're trying to fit together a number of very important features of public policy. That's why it's controversial. It's not that we don't care about any of these other perspectives, it's what is the adjustment to how they fit together."