Tri-Valley Enacts Unwise School Gunslinger Policy

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.


44 Responses to Tri-Valley Enacts Unwise School Gunslinger Policy

  1. barry freed

    A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study financed by the National Institutes of Health looked at the chances of being sexually assaulted when holding alternative sexual awareness training classes versus not holding alternative sexual awareness training classes. In Pennsylvania, from 2003 to 2006, police sent the epidemiological researchers reports of sex-related assaults soon after they happened. A research firm then matched those victims with similar people in the area who did not engage in deviant sex 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 sexual victim and a non-sexual Philadelphian, researchers had a variable and a control group. Then by comparing those who were raped and had a sexual organ on them with the control group, the researchers looked for a correlation–and found one. In the study, someone in possession of a sexual organ was about 4.5 times more likely to be attacked. If the victim had a chance to resist, he or she was 5.5 times more likely to be raped again.

    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 training, he says, “on average was found not to be protective in assaults.” This is the conclusion written in the study: “Although successful defensive sexual organ uses can and do occur, the findings of this study do not support the perception that such successes are likely”

    Figures don’t lie, but liars figure

    Interesting to find out they discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer by using random phone calls. Doesn’t get any more scientific than that.

  2. Is there some reason that the Minnehaha County Sheriff can’t supply the school with a school resource officer? Did the school request one? Did the county commissioners refuse to fund an extra deputy?
    Many high schools now have municipal or county law enforcement officers assigned to the school. I haven’t heard of any of them shooting anybody and in my daughter’s case in Brookings, the kids liked him.

  3. mike from iowa

    From Shannyn Moore @ yhemudflats.net- The law doesn’t hold up to that pesky Constitution that makes a bunch of rules for us. The liberal giant the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the Heller decision, “Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

    Scalia says shooty guns don’t belong in schools or gubmint buildings.

  4. I do not believe that the Constitution says anything about an age limit. Why not let students pack their own heat and defend themselves? The Constitution doesn’t say one has to have a psych eval to own a fire arm. Come on, you purists, you want guns win schools, let’s put a LOT of guns in schools, big guns, big, big guns and really big guns! Talk about safe! What could go wrong?

  5. Anne –
    There is a full time resource officer provided by the Minnehaha Sheriff’s Department. He’s great – the kids love him. The boards concern is that sometimes he is not on site – like 2%-5% of the time. Right now there are 5 Minnehaha Deputies assigned as Resource officers to cover Dell Rapids Public, Dell Rapids Catholic, Baltic, West Central, Garretson, and Tri-Valley. I am not sure if a conversation ever included going to the county and asking for an additional Resource Officer added to cover breaks/vacations or etc. It is my understanding that the schools do not pay for the resource officers currently – but are provided by the county.

  6. Well, then… if we want to keep police officers and security guards from being shot, we better disarm them, right?

    I would strongly urge some critical thinking skills when it comes to this research study:

    1) As the adage goes, correlation (which the study found) is NOT causation.

    1a) There is a high probability of a spurious correlation occurring here, due to the high number of social variables which might be at play. That is, the study controlled for gun ownership, but reading through the methodology, made the erroneous assumption that location within Philadelphia writ large was acceptable (the study should’ve ensured more constrained geographic boundaries to ensure the gun-owning victim at their matched control subject were from the same neighborhood, age, race, socio-economic status, etc.).

    2) Having read through the UoP article, I’m pretty satisfied their collection technique was pretty poor:

    Link to their cohort comparison here

    * The control group actually had greater firearm possession (7% vs almost 6%) [not statistically significant difference]
    * The control group consumed statistically significantly less alcohol (14% vs 26%)
    * The control group was statistically significantly less likely to be involved in illicit drugs (8% vs 11%)
    * The control group was statistically significantly less likely to be outdoors (9% vs 83%!!!)
    * The control group also was less black, Hispanic, and unemployed; the control made more money, etc.
    * The control group was in locations where illicit drug trafficking was not taking place to anywhere near the extent of the case study group.
    * The control group was statistically significantly less likely to work in a high-risk occupation, and/or have a prior arrest (37% control vs 53% case study). The control was also more educated.

    So essentially, they randomly found a control cohort that didn’t match very well the demographics of the case group, used regression analysis to try to make them fit, and then said “aha! The people who were victims of assault are more likely to be shot if they have a gun than these folks who don’t have guns” while conveniently glossing over the fact the control cohort really didn’t share any of the characteristics

    I’m willing to bet a dinner at the Hartford Steak House that the prior arrest record (53% of assault victims vs 37% of the control) has a stronger correlational value than gun ownership.

    It’s not just owning a gun; it’s a whole host of internal and external societal factors that determine your likelihood of being injured by a gun.

  7. Tri-Valley does have an armed resource officer. However, he is not there 100% of the time.

  8. Joseph Nelson

    Democracy! If the people there want their teachers armed, or not, it is up to them! Maybe the voters need to start a petition if they do not want School Sentinals?

    13-64-7. Referendum petition on school board decision. A decision by a school board to implement a school sentinel program pursuant to § 13-64-1 may be referred to a vote of the qualified voters of the school district by the filing of a petition signed by five percent of the registered voters in the school district, based upon the total number of registered voters at the last preceding general election. The board shall allow sufficient time for the referendum process authorized in this section. – SD 13-64-7

  9. mike from iowa

    Let the NRA pay for security. They have all kinds of money to buy ads lying about Obama taking your guns away.

  10. I can agree with Mr. Nelson. Let the people in the district decide. But limit it to the people in the district. Not the NRA, not People from out of state, and not people who live outside the district. The school board can make their case, and the opponents can make theirs.

  11. mike from iowa

    “For What It’s Worth”

    There’s something happening here
    But what it is ain’t exactly clear
    There’s a man with a gun over there
    Telling me I got to beware

    I think it’s time we stop
    Children, what’s that sound?
    Everybody look – what’s going down?

    There’s battle lines being drawn
    Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
    Young people speaking’ their minds
    Getting so much resistance from behind

    It’s time we stop
    Hey, what’s that sound?
    Everybody look – what’s going down?

    What a field day for the heat
    A thousand people in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”

    It’s time we stop
    Hey, what’s that sound?
    Everybody look – what’s going down?

    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your life it will creep
    It starts when you’re always afraid
    Step out of line, the men come and take you away

    We better stop
    Hey, what’s that sound?
    Everybody look – what’s going down?

    Buffalo Springfield- as relevant today as it was in the 60s.

  12. If Wayne’s critique of the study has merit, I note the confounding characteristics of the control group that might make them less likely to get shot appear to apply to the Tri-Valley student body: less likely to be outside, less likely to be black, less likely to be in places where drug trafficking is taking place. Those characteristics fit into the proven fact that school is a safer place for kids to be than home, work, or on the street. Therefore, even Wayne’s proposed alternative interpretation of the data supports the conclusion that Tri-Valley’s kids are safe and do not need more armed protection.

  13. Democracy indeed! I completely support a referendum in this case.

    However, I reject MC’s effort to insulate locals from commentary from outside the district. My tax dollars are funding this ill-advised, dangerous program; I’m at least entitled to blog about it and encourage the Tri-Valley school board to think like educators rather than like John Wayne.

  14. Steve Sibson

    Cory said, “Taxpayers will cover the cost of certifying and insuring Tri-Valley’s school gunslingers.”

    Anne Beal said, “Is there some reason that the Minnehaha County Sheriff can’t supply the school with a school resource officer?’

    Doesn’t taxpayers also pay for the resource officer?

    Are resource officers also “gunslingers”?

  15. Joseph Nelson

    I am trying to find more details on this program, but not having much luck. In order for a person to even apply to be a School Sentinel, they have to have a valid concealed carry permit (paid for by the individual). But I can’t find where the program details what kind of firearms the School Sentinels will/can carry. Can they open carry? Is there a limit on magazine size? Can they store a rifle/shotgun in a locker in the teachers lounge? To what extent to explosives come into play? Are Tasers authorized? Tear gas or smoke grenades? None lethal ammo, such as rock salt or rubber bullets? Is all of this left to the School Board/Superintendent?

    Does anyone know these details, or where I can find them?

  16. Cory,

    Overall, a school is an incredibly safe place. Despite media hysteria, the chance of a school shooting taking place are incredibly small. I personally don’t see the need for a school sentinel program. But I’m not going to flail about and speculate how much less safe students will be due to some bad research.

    But Tri Valley has an armed resource officer already; doesn’t that make things less safe? Or does it show a commitment by the county to protect that which is most important to us parents?

    Frankly, if these sentinels weren’t getting pretty extensive training (they’re going through the same 80 hour course officers go through, as I understand it), then I’d be with you brandying about words like “gunslinger” and other references to the purely mythical spaghetti western.

  17. mike from iowa

    Joseph Nelson- Here are the rules. It will take some reading.

    http://asbsd.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Sentinel-Rules.pdf

  18. Joseph Nelson

    mike from iowa, I read through the rules you linked to, but it does not answer any of my questions.
    I have to imagine someone out there has asked these questions, and the answers have to be somewhere, but I cannot find them.

  19. Steve Sibson

    Joseph, perhaps you will find your answers at the required training. I doubt those with “common sense” would tip off the perps with details on how the children are to be defended.

  20. Joseph Nelson

    Steve,
    You bring up an excellent point! However, isn’t it in the interest of public safety to know whether or not explosives are being stored at a public school? I suppose a school could volunteer that information. Even our military is restricted in the use of certain weapons and types of ammunition and has rules of engagement, information which is made available to the public, I would reckon out School Sentinels would (maybe even should) have restrictions as well.

  21. mike from iowa

    My apologies for not being able to help,Mr Nelson.

  22. Steve Sibson

    “I would reckon out School Sentinels would (maybe even should) have restrictions as well.”

    Yes they should, but the perps should not know what they are.

  23. Joseph Nelson

    Steve,
    Call me paranoid, but I am sort of against the idea of a secret police force which is unaccountable to the people and whose rules and restrictions are unknown to the people they are policing.

    But hey, if it drives more people to home school, I am all for that :)

  24. Joseph Nelson

    mike from iowa,
    No apologies needed. you found what information is out there, and the DCI has also consolidated a lot of the information on their website.

    Unfortunately, I can’t find the answers to my questions. I wonder if they were raised back when this law was passed, but I am not sure if those discussion in the legislature would have been recorded (or held in an executive sessions because we don’t want the perps to know).

  25. Steve Sibson

    “I am sort of against the idea of a secret police force which is unaccountable to the people and whose rules and restrictions are unknown to the people they are policing.”

    Then we need to do something about the CIA.

  26. Joseph Nelson

    Steve, I am glad you agree with me! But believe me, you will have far more success dealing with the local level then the federal level.

    Cory, I convinced Steve Sibson of something! Huzzah!

  27. owen reitzel

    “Steve, I am glad you agree with me! But believe me, you will have far more success dealing with the local level then the federal level.”

    “No he won’t Joseph because the locals know Steve.

  28. Joseph, I’ve seen no guidelines restricting the things you listed. If school gunslingers want to maintain their confidentiality, then surely they will carry concealed. That was the expectation of the framers of the bill, but nothing in the language of the bill prohibits duly authorized gunslinger from carrying that gun on her hip, just like the school resource officer.

  29. Joseph, on workplace safety, there is a difference between having an armed law enforcement agent on site and having secret non-professional gunslingers on site. The Minnehaha County deputy assigned to Tri-Valley has one job: be a cop. Protect the student body. Watch for intruders. Stop bad guys. The school gunslingers have a different main job—teach algebra, or serve lunch, or clean the building, or be a secretary. The vigilance required when carrying a gun and acting as a security guard does not fit well with carrying out other duties.

    I will agree that an armed resource officer in the school increases the risk of a firearm discharge, but not as much as having part-time gunslingers whose other duties will have them inattentive to the disposition of their firearm during significant portions of the day.

    On the flip side, if a school gunslinger is devoting her attention to the disposition of her firearm and ongoing threat assessment, she is not devoting sufficient attention to her primary duty to teach, serve, clean, etc.

  30. Joseph Nelson-

    All the questions raised are great – and none of them would be answered by the school because the program is intentionally secretive. The public knowledge is only that the school has enacted this policy. I believe they would disclose, if asked, if someone has been approved to be a sentinel, but not how many people. They feel that any details about the way in which the program is carried out would “tip-off” potential school shooters. Sharing how many sentinels are approved, what types of weapons, amount of ammo on site, etc would remove the deterrents from this policy.

    I understand the logic behind not disclosing the names of those authorized, if I saw them in a hallway knowing they were a sentinel I would walk the other way – but for this level of secrecy by a public institution is troubling at the least.

  31. an odd stat from ABA:

    •Of American high school students in 2001, 17% had carried a weapon including guns, knives or clubs in the 30 days before the survey – a 33% decrease from 1991 [no citation]

    are kids scared in school? fear of one another and intruders. what does fear do to young people? for those in the “stop, drop, cover” mantra of the cold war, what were the short/long-term effects? best interests of children approach?

    in an isolated school, I can imagine a gun on the wall of a one-room school in the past, but I don’t know.

    if we could separate this protection/child mental health issue from the perceived 2nd amend. right of the carrier, that might be helpful. carrying for perceived safety of oneself and family is one thing. effecting everyone else in proximity is a whole other issue. the issue.

    what if it was clear that the last airliner that went down on 9.11.01 was due to the actions of a carrier attempting to stop the intruders?

    jtol

  32. Steve Sibson

    “I am sort of against the idea of a secret police force which is unaccountable to the people”

    “you will have far more success dealing with the local level then the federal level”

    Joseph, it is Cory and most commenters on this blog who is advocating a police state in our schools instead of depending on locals.

  33. Young adults between the ages of 18-25 experience the highest rate of serious mental illness.21 Between 9% and 11% of college students seriously considered suicide in the previous school year,22 and about 1,100 college students commit suicide each year.23 When a gun enters this mix, a suicide attempt becomes considerably more lethal, as 85% of gun suicide attempts are fatal.24

    http://smartgunlaws.org/guns-in-schools-policy-summary/

  34. •The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grants are available to fund school resource officers, and DOJ has encouraged police departments to hire such officers by providing a preference for grant applications that support school resource officers.47 In September 2013, DOJ announced the awarding of 263 COPS Hiring Grants totaling approximately $125 million, including around $45 million to fund 356 new school resource officer positions.48

    id.

  35. Bill Dithmer

    $325,000 seems like a lot of money to get a LEO into a school.

    The Blindman

  36. Steve Sibson

    Just because liberals put “smart” on their policies don’t automatically make them wise. After all, the collectivist coopted the “liberal” label and then used propaganda to call socialism “progressive”.

    But thanks leslie for showing the resource officers are federal and not local, and they are more expensive than training locals to do the job.

  37. tell that to republican parents of sandy hook

    sad u cant get beyond your bias to talk about issues people care about

  38. neoliberal:

    advocates support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States.[6] The transition of consensus towards neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 one of the ultimate results.[12][13][14][15][16]

    Scholars now tended to associate it with the theories of economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.[5]

  39. That Steve can read this post and my comments and accuse me of seeking a police state in our public schools establishes his complete disregard for reality.

  40. mike from iowa

    Sibby is high on imaginary halucinogens.

  41. DENVER — Colorado’s Douglas County School District has purchased 10 semiautomatic rifles that it says school security officers can use in the event of a shooting or other security threat.

    “We may be the first one on scene, and I want to make sure that we are able to have the correct tools to handle the situation if something happens”

    $12,000 on the Bushmaster long rifles giving officers a “tactical advantage” in the event of a serious incident in the 900-square-mile school district that includes 86 schools and 67,000 students. District officials declined to tell the model of the rifle is or its magazine capacity.

    Only eight of the district’s 64 security staffers currently carry handguns, and will be the only officers allowed to use the new rifles. All of the district’s security officers previously worked in law enforcement and have been trained to carry the weapons

    The new weapons will be locked in officers’ cars during the day and transferred to a locked safe in the district’s security department at night. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/douglas-county-colorado-assault-weapons_us_57166572e4b06f35cb70c031 4.19.16

  42. Jason Adams taught eighth-grade science at a middle school just a couple of miles from Sandy Hook Elementary….Adams brought a loaded .45 caliber pistol to his middle school.

    Adams, who had a permit to carry the weapon, said he showed up armed because he and his family had received a barrage of threatening messages from Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists….

    “I’d move if I were you, you don’t want me anywhere near your town, I’m bad for people’s health – those are the types of threats that prompted him to renew his pistol permit,” his defense attorney John Maxwell said.

    [C]onspiracy theories about the mass shooting…the most prominent [were]: that the December 2012 massacre was a “false flag” orchestrated by government officials to build support for gun control.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/09/23/newtown-teacher-says-he-brought-gun-to-school-because-he-feared-sandy-hook-truthers/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-national%3Ahomepage%2Fcard