Legislation that would allow Arizona schools to keep a gun on campus and give one person access to it offers the illusion of doing something to further safety rather than taking concrete steps to protect children.
The bill, House Bill 2412, would allow public schools to keep a gun in a secure firearms locker and give the key or combination to a designated person who has received 24 hours of training and passed a background check.
It passed the House Appropriations Committee last week. The House should not approve it.
The bill feeds the illusion that the existence of one weapon can stop the use of another that’s being put to deadly use in the hands of a criminal bent on creating terror. It’s far-fetched that a person who has decided to murder children will be put off by the possibility that someone on campus might have access to a weapon.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, sponsored the legislation with the support of the Arizona Attorney General’s office.
The Arizona School Boards Association’s lobbyist told the panel, according to reporting from Capitol Media Services, that it would not object to the bill if it applied only to rural schools where a police response could be delayed.
Kavanagh’s own words of disagreement to that position showcase the flaws of his proposal. “When a wild gunman is chasing your kids, how many minutes do you allow him to have free access to the child?” he said.
Consider an elementary school. If something happens on one end of campus, the person with the key or combination to the gun safe would have to be contacted, get to the locker, get out the weapon and respond — a scenario that takes time.
There’s also the question of what happens if someone steals the key or combination, if the designated person temporarily misplaces it or loses it altogether. Arming teachers or staff is not the answer, either. The opportunity for the gun to fall into the wrong hands is too great.
We all understand the drive to protect children, but introducing a firearm on a school campus does not improve safety. It might make us feel like we’re doing something, but activity isn’t achievement.