Peter Langman and Fritz Walker: Giving teachers guns won't make schools safer – Allentown Morning Call

Fear is among the most powerful of human motivations. That’s true whether the fear is based on rational grounds, or irrational considerations — i.e., paranoia. Both evoke strong emotional responses.

When the threat is to the safety of the most precious persons in our lives — our children — emotions are magnified. On top of that, intense media coverage can’t but help make a horrific event, like the mass school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary or Columbine High School, seem like an imminent threat. But the only way we know to separate fear from paranoia is through facts and knowledge.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2016 report, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety,” for the 10 school years culminating in 2012-13, an average of 21 youths ages 5 to 18 were victims of homicide, and five were victims of suicide, while attending America’s schools. For the same ages, there were 1,480 homicides per year (79 percent by firearm) and 1,406 suicides per year (40 percent by firearm), when not in school. The rate of violent deaths in school is about 80 times less than outside of school.

Elementary school homicides are even rarer. According to school violence expert Dewey Cornell, from 1992-2012 (which, like above, includes the year of Sandy Hook), America had a grand total of 56 such homicides in 21 years — less than three per year. Put another way, with 83,000 elementary schools in the U.S., each school will experience one homicide approximately every 31,000 years.

Homes are far and away the place where most homicides occur, followed by our streets.

Which is why it’s so irresponsible that state Sen. Donald White, a Republican who represents the 41st District in western Pennsylvania, sponsored legislation (Senate Bill 383) that would permit school districts to

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