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Joe Henderson: Who but hardliners thinks more guns in schools is the answer?

By Joe Henderson, Special to the Times
Published: March 1, 2018
Just a week after the Broward County school shootings, the Tampa Gun Show drew big crowds to the Florida State Fairgrounds. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

The recent Florida Gun Show attracted what organizers said was a record crowd to the state fairgrounds.

Iím not surprised, and you probably arenít either. Guns have dominated the news since the slaughter of 17 people in Parkland, and you already know how the debate comes down.

There is a lot of commentary from people like me arguing that we need tougher laws and fewer guns. There have been counter-proposals from gun owners who say people like me should shut up, which is never going to happen, and crawl back under our rock.

Impasse city.

Itís crazy. How did we get to the point where guns seem to matter so much and divided us in ways that never seemed possible?

Iíve been living on this planet for a long time and I donít remember it ever being like this. And itís not like I havenít been around guns.

There were shotguns on my grandfatherís farm in Ohio. People used to circle the date when hunting season opened, and we used to see people heading back into the woods by my house all the time in search of game.

Even though I never owned a gun and havenít shot anything stronger than a .22 at tomato cans, it didnít bother me a bit if others did.

I know lots of men and women who are responsible gun owners. They have taken safety courses. Their paperwork is in order. They say the gun is for protection. I believe them.

I get it.

Here is what I donít get, though.

If you have a gun at home, youíre supposed to keep it unloaded and in a safe place. If you have kids, youíre supposed to keep it under lock and key, right?

So, what happens if something goes bump in the night and you feel like itís time to pull out your trusty Smith & Wesson? Do you fumble in the dark for key to the cabinet where you keep it locked?

I mean, if you think you need a weapon for protection, the next logical step would be to keep it loaded right by the bed.

Ah, but you might start thinking you need quicker access if a bad guy comes crashing through the door. Itís not like you can ask the perp to wait while you open the drawer, find the gun, and load it, right?

To be of any real use in a middle-of-the-night crisis, the gun would have to available to use at a momentís notice ó and, this is just me, the chance for a tragic accident just got multiplied.

If Iím wrong, please explain.

And the latest push to arm school teachers is insane.

God forbid, but if someone attempted another slaughter like we just saw in Parkland, what makes anyone outside of Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee believe that introducing more guns into the situation would solve the problem?

Schools officials donít believe so. Most teachers donít seem to believe so. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who just lived through a nightmare donít believe so.

Even a trained teacher authorized to use a gun if necessary would be confronting chaos that would challenge even seasoned shooters. Students would be running and screaming. Police officers could be charging into the building, and how would they know the teacher is the good guy with the gun?

But there seems no turning back now. There are more guns in the United States than people, and many seem to have a thirst for more. The National Rifle Association seems to confront any modest attempt at restriction as an attack on the Second Amendment.

I ask again, how did we get here?

One bullet at a time, I guess.