I am a retired schoolteacher with about 40 years’ experience working in the middle school through postgraduate levels of the language arts, and a former police reserve officer with about eight years in service. I am currently a T/A/C officer for the Benton County Sheriff’s Department Police Explorer Program. I have taught hunter education for the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 35 years. I am not without some experience in the public eye, thinking on my feet. Monday night – Feb. 12 – I helped teach a class on Active Shooter Response to a cadre of Law Enforcement Explorers. Over the years I have taken or taught many such classes, elements and units. There are only a few resulting themes.
Defense wins games. Ask the Eagles and the Patriots. The only way to increase school safety is to train and arm teachers, staff and administrators. The notion of “gun-free zones” is ridiculous. Those areas become “target-rich environments” for predators. Time and again we see that the only thing stopping a willing bad person with a gun is a willing good person with a gun. Trying to reduce violence by stacking restrictive gun laws is absurd.
For instance: Gun carry permits in Minnesota are at historically high levels, while crime has reached historically low levels. Chicago has severely strict gun laws, but eye-poppingly high crime. I commend legislators for the work provided by each and all. I would not willingly bathe in that fountain of wisdom where the statutes must become good and gracious and the law must become truth. But it is incumbent upon us to study carefully the issues that rise up. Take the age to buy guns to 21 …? Check the age of our military. Raise the voting age back up to 21.
In terms of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, our most vital occupations and avocations must lead us to educate ourselves and share our ideas. Our bottom line and ultimate pursuit must be the protection of our selves, our families, our properties, our communities and our ideals from predation – according to the governance we have, as a republic and a democracy, set out for this state and this nation. We must remain a free state.
Restrictive gun notions, in terms of limiting law-abiding citizens’ uses and choices of long and short arms, are at the least egregious and useless, and at the top extreme: dangerous and oppressive. These cumbersome and shortsighted proposals now coming at us will step toward making serfs out of a free people. If you give guns to a slave, that individual will not long remain a slave. If you remove guns from a free people, those people will not long remain free. Abrupt changes start with small increments. The current anti-gun bills that are coming before the legislators will do nothing to protect or make safe the free citizens of the state of Washington or of the United States of America. If a hundred underinformed people claim that a bad idea is a good idea, it is still a bad idea. People with experience, and those who know and understand history – and guns – must be voices in the darkness.
More restrictive gun laws will further trouble legal law-abiding citizens, and further encumber an already underfunded law enforcement system. These ideas – if they became laws – would also reduce the ability of citizens to defend their community or their police.
To think that schools are inherently safe is naive. I have broken up fights and taken away weapons. Every law enforcement officer knows the risk of carrying a badge. I have never worked with a teacher unwilling to protect students. We need to provide school personnel with the physical, emotional and spiritual tools to do the whole job. We need to get out of the victim and entitlement modes. We need to return to teaching gun safety. “AR” means “ArmaLite,” not “assault rifle.” Having certain physical features does not make a male a potential rapist. Neither cosmetics nor fashion makes a hooker or a combat weapon. The last few years, politics surrounding guns is not about “gun control”; the ultimate end is “control.” Yet, 4.7 million people per year legally use guns defensively.
Dan Donaldson is a retired teacher and former reserve police officer.
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