Guest opinion: Teachers need access to defensive weapons

2013-01-03T00:00:00Z 2013-01-07T13:15:12Z Guest opinion: Teachers need access to defensive weapons The Billings Gazette
January 03, 2013 12:00 am

After the horrific shootings in Connecticut, we all hope to find a way to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again. Right now, as in the past, many in our nation are looking to gun control, and the pundits are insisting we act now while emotions are still high.

Being a member of the Montana Legislature, I am in a position to enact law to protect my fellow Montanans, the teachers and children in our schools. Over the past week, I have lost sleep due to the heartache and trying to find an answer.

Some have suggested limiting violent video games. This may be a good place for parents to start, but we all know that kids will get and play these games, even if it is illegal. Others have suggested gun control. Yet this tragedy occurred in a gun-free zone, as do most mass shootings. Moreover, we all know that gun control is not going to take weapons off the streets or out of the hands of dangerous people. If simply banning something got rid of it, cocaine, heroine and meth should have disappeared years ago.

I have spoken to many people over the past few days — trying to find a solution. Most people don't have an answer. Of course we need to look at how Montana handles mental health. The truth is, however, that we cannot legislate goodness in people, and more importantly, we cannot legislate evil out of the heart of bad people.

Ultimately, we need to allow our teachers to have the ability to protect themselves and our kids.

I have several ideas how to do this safely, without compromising the classroom environment for teachers or students. First, teachers should be trained to use a taser and/or pepper spray, which would be securely placed in every classroom. Second, I suggest we put at least one firearm in every school, perhaps in the principal's office, locked up of course, with several administrators having access and trained on how to use it. Finally, teachers who wish to use their concealed carry permits on school grounds should be allowed to do so, perhaps with additional training. Concealed carry — with a permit — should also be allowed on college campuses.

We may be helpless to stop another of these evil and senseless acts but we do not have to stand by powerless, waiting and hoping that it does not happen in one of our Montana elementary schools, high schools or college campuses.

I am interested in what Montana thinks about these ideas. You can email constructive ideas to me at

Champ Edmunds of Missoula serves in the Montana House of Representatives.

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