Owning a gun is such a health risk that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2000 recommending that pediatricians urge parents to remove all guns from their homes.
The group felt so strongly about this that it renewed its commitment last year, just two months before 20 children were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Now some state lawmakers think the answer to our Sandy Hook fears is to put guns in our schools.
HB109, sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would essentially let principals choose certain teachers and school employees to carry concealed weapons on campus. A House K-12 Education Subcommittee voted 10-3 last week in support of the idea, which calls for school employees to wear the firearms on their bodies all day and undergo a 40-hour weapons course similar to a licensed security guard.
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Seems like they've thought of everything ... except our nation's track record for keeping weapons around kids.
There is no credible evidence that having a gun in your house reduces your risk of being a victim of a crime. What it does do is significantly increase your risk of death, or the death of your spouse and children, no matter how the guns are stored or what type. If you have a gun, everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.
If guns aren't safe for our homes, do we think our schools are going to be any different?
In 2009, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that gun owners are 4.5 times more likely to be shot than people not in possession of a firearm.
Not enough for you? How about this 2011 meta-review by the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center that found overwhelming evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns? The review found no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in.
The Children's Defense Fund reports that the 5,740 children killed by guns in 2008 and 2009 was greater than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq those years. The number of preschoolers killed by guns during the same time frame was nearly double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty those two years.
We no longer beat our children in schools in part because child development and psychological studies associate corporal punishment with increased child aggression and antisocial behavior. Why would we ignore scientific evidence when it comes to putting guns within reach of our children?
Here's a math problem I'd like the Florida Legislature to solve: How many children's deaths does it take before we stop thinking about arming educators and start thinking about their research?