The safe, rural Tri-Valley School District, where, like almost every other South Dakota school district there has never been a school shooting, has voted to become the first school in South Dakota to enact a school gunslinger policy as authorized by our fear-mongering Republican Legislature three years ago. Under the policy, any school staff or volunteers who wish to play superhero (wait—superheroes, even the human ones like Batman, almost never carry guns) must apply, undergo psychological evaluation, and take law enforcement training. Just like superheroes, their identities will remain a secret.
Taxpayers will cover the cost of certifying and insuring Tri-Valley’s school gunslingers. Our tax dollars (remember, state dollars cover a big chunk of school budgets, so we’re all on this sandy hook) will thus go toward a policy that Donald Trump thinks is a good idea (danger!) but research says is not:
A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study financed by the National Institutes of Health looked at the chances of being shot when holding a gun versus not holding a gun. In Pennsylvania, from 2003 to 2006, police sent the epidemiological researchers reports of gun-related assaults soon after they happened. A research firm then matched those victims with similar people in the area who did not own guns through phone surveys conducted by random-digit dialing. (This is the same sort of research setup that goes into studying the link between drunk driving and car crashes or smoking and lung cancer.) With both a gun-owning victim and a non-gun-owning Philadelphian, researchers had a variable and a control group. Then by comparing those who were shot and had a gun on them with the control group, the researchers looked for a correlation–and found one. In the study, someone in possession of a gun was about 4.5 times more likely to be shot. If the victim had a chance to resist, he or she was 5.5 times more likely to be shot.
Even more interesting is what the research didn’t find. “There was an expectation that we should surely find a protective value,” the study’s lead researcher Charles Branas, of the University of Pennsylvania, says. But having a gun, he says, “on average was found not to be protective in assaults.” This is the conclusion written in the study: “Although successful defensive gun uses can and do occur, the findings of this study do not support the perception that such successes are likely” [Colin Lecher, “Would Arming Teachers and Students Really Have Prevented a Tragedy?” Popular Science, 2012.12.19].
Allowing employees to carry guns makes workplaces more dangerous. Tri-Valley is ignoring research and good sense and putting teachers and students in danger with this unnecessary gunslinger policy.