Involve community, think before passing gun-violence laws

My Turn
By Dick Foreman – January 30, 2013
The Republic |

We’ve got the solution to gun violence in our schools. Well, actually, we have several solu­tions.

Here are some of them:

1. The National Rifle Association seems to think that the “good guys” need to shoot back.

2. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne proposes to arm and train school officials on each campus.

3. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will designate school “pos­ses” of armed civilian volunteers and occasionally have a Maricopa County deputy cruise by in a “show of force” to dissuade the “bad guys.”

4. Republic columnist E.J. Montini says the solution is in the registration of weapons ( Republic column, Jan. 8).

5. The Republic editorial board re­minds us that the promised dialogue following the Tucson tragedy involving former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gif­fords and many others has yet to ma­terialize (lead editorial, Jan. 8).

6. Political consultant Michael J. O’Neil opines that we are over-reacting (Huffington Post, Jan. 7). Just stop it, y’all.

7. Republic columnist Robert Robb says: “Somewhere between a BB gun and a nuclear weapon, the government can draw a line on the ability of citizens to arm themselves (Dec. 19).”

8. Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, founded Americans for Respon­sible Solutions (americansforrespon­siblesolutions. org), which will engage a national conversation about gun-vio­lence prevention and raise funds to counter the gun lobby (Republic, Jan. 8). Money to lobby against the NRA is the theme here.

9. And Chad Campbell, a state repre­sentative and the House minority lead­er, put out a quarter-billion-dollar pro­posal asking for more counselors, video cameras, resource officers and mental­health funding.

At least Campbell’s press conference had teacher lobbyist Andrew Morrell present. Nearly every other proposal seems to forget that those responsible for the education of our children, much less their safety, is a vital part of the deal.

I’m not going to predict much, but here are two: One, teaching certificates will not include firearms training. Ever. And two, it is absurd to discuss school security without first involving school administrators, governing boards and broader community interests.

For governing-board members, fac­ulty, staff, students, parents and com­munity, student safety is paramount. But lunging for a congressional or leg­islative solution is inane, albeit politi­cally rewarding for some.

And in this time of grief, some peo­ple, either through political posturing, political gain or even good-spirited, civil dialogue, think they can put an end to the utter madness of this carnage.

But they can’t.

Robert Robb also said, “Perhaps we should proceed with humility and greater appreciation for the mysteries of human nature, the human mind and evil.”

Arizona legislators, put your bill­drafting on hold, please.

Involve. Think. Discuss. Then act. In that order.

Involve the greater school communi­ty. Because, from an education perspec­tive and to be perfectly frank, I don’t think any of you really know what you are doing.

Dick Foreman is an education activist and community volunteer who lives in Tempe.

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