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Allow licensed staff, students to carry defensive firearms

By Andrew Rothman

As our nation mourns the victims of the worst mass shooting in our history, our thoughts inevitably turn to the school shootings that have come before: the Amish school in Lancaster, Penn., Rocori, Red Lake and Columbine.

As was the case in Virginia, the perpetrators of all of these horrors chose to attack where they knew they would find no effective resistance to their violence. Unfortunately, that is the situation in almost all of our schools, from Churchill Elementary to the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota public schools and universities almost uniformly forbid law-abiding, licensed, trained and background-checked students, staff and faculty from carrying defensive firearms.

The University of Minnesota — my alma mater — has such a policy. So did Virginia Tech. While the policy successfully kept any of the 32 victims from defending themselves, it did nothing to stop Cho Seung-Hui. Those intent on murder are rarely swayed by threat of expulsion.

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FBI statistics have proven that the single-most effective means of preventing violent harm is to resist with a firearm. And yet our lawmakers and school officials have effectively assured that these deadly attacks will continue to occur in our children’s schools.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In Israel, after PLO terrorists targeted schoolchildren in the 1974, the government started letting reservists keep their guns at home and carry them on the streets.

Teachers and school nurses started to carry guns, armed parent (and grandparent) volunteers patrolled the schools, and no field trips were taken without armed guards.

As a result, the terrorists gave up on schools as targets. Well, one particularly stubborn terrorist attempted a suicide attack in 2002, but an Israeli teacher shot him before he harmed anyone.

In March 2005, when Jeff Weise killed his police officer grandfather, stole his police guns and drove to Red Lake High School, he had nine minutes before police arrived, time enough to kill an unarmed security guard, a teacher and five students and to shoot and seriously injure seven more.

An armed guard, an armed principal or an armed janitor could have stopped him within those nine minutes and cut short his deadly rampage.

Some will undoubtedly argue that more guns can only lead to more violence. But to do so is to fall prey to the worst sort of moral relativism. Offensive violence and defensive force are not the same; force, even lethal force, in the protection of innocent lives, is a moral right embraced by Mahatma Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, and every legal system in our history from Minnesota Statutes to the 4,000-year-old Code of Hammurabi.

Under Minnesota law, K-12 schools and day cares may allow faculty, staff, parents or visitors with carry permits to carry a defensive firearm in the school. All it takes is a letter of permission from the principal, superintendent or day care director.

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As a firearm instructor, I’m willing to do my part. I, or one of my fellow certified instructors, will provide carry permit training, at no charge, for any public school employee with such permission.

For public universities, it’s even simpler: administrators have the ability to simply repeal policies forbidding law-abiding, licensed, trained, background-checked students, staff and faculty from carrying a defensive firearm.

Minnesota school officials, we need those permissions to be given. Minnesota’s students are worth protecting.

Andrew Rothman of Chanhassen, Minn., is a certified firearm instructor and executive director of the Minnesota Association of Defensive Firearm Instructors (www.madfi.org). He is a graduate of John Marshall High School in Rochester and the University of Minnesota.

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