The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 again opposes use of local gun control
By Seth Hancock
Should local school districts have the freedom to determine how to protect students, or should those school districts with a fear of inanimate objects be able to continue dictating to others how to protect students?
The upcoming Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) annual convention later in November will again consider allowing local control with regards to arming staff as a defense of students.
The IASB’s resolution committee had consistently opposed such resolutions from rural school districts until last year when it was made clear this was an issue regarding local control. Ultimately, last year, that resolution was voted down, including School District U-46’s representative voting no, by a 203-179 margin.
Mercer County SD 404 in rural Illinois submitted a resolution this year stating several rural school districts do not have the resources for school resource officers, which U-46 has, and can see police response times over 20 minutes while stating other districts have even worse response times.
“Our communities and districts differ greatly,” SD 404 states. “Some communities are perfectly comfortable with having their teachers and school staff trained and armed so they can protect people in their buildings. Other communities are adamantly opposed to the idea. That is okay. The districts in our state should be allowed to determine what is best for them, rather than leaving the determination to those in Springfield who do not know or understand communities outside their own.”
In U-46, there have been two public comments made, one in support and one opposed.
At the Oct. 21 meeting, Elgin resident L. Dean Hufsey noted the signs on U-46 buildings proclaiming them “gun-free zones.”
“There is no evidence that such signage has ever been or is or ever will be effective,” Hufsey said. “The problem with this sign or any other sign or device announcing a gun-free zone is that it sends two conflicting messages at the same time. One message to law-abiding citizens is a reminder that firearms are not permitted in schools. The other message to the bad guys who would invade a school or other gun-free zone is ‘come on in and fire away, we’re just sitting ducks.’”
Hufsey said instead there should be signs that “boldly state this building and its occupants are protected by trained, armed personnel.”
“There is no such thing as gun violence. There’s only violence expressed by persons,” Hufsey said noting he has hunting rifles and “none of those firearms have ever acted independently on their own in a violent way. Firearms do not engage in violence. It’s the persons.”
Patricia Harkin, a Gail Borden Library trustee, opposed the resolution at the Oct. 7 meeting.
Harkin admitted that “we do know that time is crucial” citing an FBI study stating mass shootings last about three minutes, but school psychologists believe armed staff “can increase fear” among students and media reports claim “trained personnel can be part of the problem.”
“Hard data about hypothetical situations is hard to get,” said Harkin who added there needs to be a “valid” study before supporting such a measure.
Some data is presently available.
John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), told The Examiner last year that 20 states currently allow armed teachers, several for over two decades.
“With the exception of one accidental discharge by a teacher in Utah in 2014 after school hours… there have been no shootings of any type in any of all these schools that allowed teachers to carry guns,” Lott added.
A recent study released by the CPRC further showed that schools allowing armed staff are far and away much safer than those that do not.
Between 2000 and 2018, there has not been one injury or death at schools allowing armed staff with that 2014 Utah incident the only discharge of a firearm, which again was after school hours and resulted in no injuries. In contrast, there have been 215 firearm deaths during regular school hours at schools not allowing armed staff with a high of 39 in 2018.
Furthermore, a PoliceOne survey has shown 81 percent of police officers supporting arming teachers and data from the CPRC showed that 97.8 percent of mass shootings since 1950 have occurred in designated “gun free zones,” which all Illinois government schools are designated as.
With no discussion at the Oct. 21 meeting, the U-46 board and administration again voiced its opposition to local control.