Six years have passed since my school went into lockdown after a shooting at another Joplin middle school.
A seventh grader took an assault rifle into the building, fired one shot into the ceiling and had the weapon squarely aimed at the school's principal when the gun jammed.
That fortunate circumstance prevented Joplin parents, children, and school personnel from having to go through the horrors that happened in Newtown, Conn. Friday.
Violence is never far from our minds in America, with one event following another in rapid succession and with anyone who has the effrontery to talk about our national obsession with guns quickly finding out that our First Amendment rights are being trumped by Second Amendment rights that could never have been intended by our Founding Fathers.
Rather than taking logical steps to bring this gun epidemic under control, our legislators continue to work their way around the problem and keep the NRA cash flowing into their campaign accounts.
The problem with school shootings, one Missouri legislator seems to believe, lies not with the weaponry that makes this kind of tragedy possible, but with school personnel and officials.
Rather than taking common sense efforts to make sure that the kinds of guns that no one needs for protection or for sport are taken off the marketplace, Missouri Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, has a different, more gun-friendly solution.
SB 75, the "Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training for Schools Program," would require the use of a National Rifle Association training program for all first graders.
The bill also tosses aside that pesky old First Amendment by mandating that those teaching the course make "no value judgments about firearms."
Instead of keeping the high-powered weapons away from potential school shooters, Brown's bill would require all Missouri public school personnel to undergo eight hours of training on how to deal with shooters and intruders, with a required four-hour refresher course annually.
According to his biography on the state website, Brown is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. "I'm a gun guy," he has said numerous times.
I cannot wait to hear the other solutions that our leaders will offer to deal with this kind of violence. I am sure that someone will bring up the idea of arming teachers so they can handle any school shooters or threatening intruders. It is the same tired argument that comes up every time a shooting takes place.
"If someone would have had a gun in Aurora, Colo, or at that Tuscon grocery store parking lot, lives could have been saved."
It is that same type of nonsense that finds legislators pushing bills every year that would permit weapons to be carried into public buildings, stores, and even churches.
Last year, a bill was filed in the Missouri Legislature that would have prevented any employer from discriminating against an employee who believed in gun rights. As far as I can determine, no one has ever offered any evidence that any gun proponent has ever been discriminated against because of those beliefs, but that did not stop the bill from being seriously considered.
Every year, more and more states carve new rights for gun owners. First, it was the Castle Doctrine, to allow people to defend themselves with deadly force whenever their lives were threatened, a right they already had. This cookie-cutter NRA bill passed in one state after another, despite no one ever being able to show one case that would prove a need for it.
After that, it was the Stand Your Ground law, which carried the concept of Castle Doctrine into the streets and ended up potentially costing Trayvon Martin his life. Again, no evidence was ever provided to show this bill was needed.
Apparently, the only people whose rights are never considered are those who are the victims of gun violence. Each time a tragedy like the one that occurred Friday in Connecticut, or the one that occurred earlier this year in Aurora takes place, someone says it is time for a national discussion on guns and that person is quickly shot down (pun intended) by the gun lobby which levels accusations of politicizing a tragedy.
Somehow in the warped point of view of people who seem to think the Second Amendment covers everything from handguns to nuclear weapons, claiming that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," is not politicizing tragedy.
Those of us who man the trenches in our nation's public schools can be thankful that schools are still the safest place our children can be.
Our first graders don't need to learn safety lessons about guns from the NRA. The NRA leadership could do far more to protect our nation's children by advocating common sense regulations that could lessen the chance of a repeat of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
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