Brady Center Says Texas Teachers with Guns are law breakers

I knew it wouldn’t be long before the Harrold Independent School District’s decision to allow armed teachers would generate news far beyond their small corner of Texas.  This morning’s Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that
Attorneys for a Washington, D.C.-based gun-control advocacy group have the tiny school district of Harrold in their sights.

But the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says school officials may be violating state law.

“When I first read about this, I couldn’t believe it was legal,” said Marsha McCartney, president of the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It turns out it wasn’t.”

Of course officials for the Harrold ISD disagree. When I first read and blogged about this story a few days ago, I though back to my colleague Rev. Christine Robinson reflections in her blog iMinister following the shooting TVUUC in Knoxville last month:
Of all the comments I read in news blogs yesterday, 98% were offering prayer and sympathy, 1% had been deleted as crass and hateful, and one…exactly one, suggested we ought to do something about guns. One minute later someone flashed back, “no law would ever prevent a man like this from getting a gun.” In other words, all control is completely hopeless.
The iMinister didn’t think so – that all control is completely hopeless – and I agree with her.   Although it is true that you can not ever completely prevent individuals bent on committing violence from getting their hands on weapons of violence, you can make it very difficult and you can shape society’s attitudes that it is not acceptable.  Right now, our society’s attitude is that violence and guns are very acceptable and that there is moral way to be violent and an immoral way to violent.  Changing that is going to be a long, hard road, but the journey, as the saying goes, begins with a single step.
Rev. Robinson again:
This is the 5th church shooting in the past year or so; there have been more shootings like that in schools. Churches and Schools are the open places of our society. If we must close them down, disallow backpacks and guitar cases, be suspicious of the stranger or the angry…we will all lose far more than if we just start cracking down on guns.
The Star Telegram reporters this morning inform us of the following:
School violence The rates at which teenagers were victimized by crime, both violent and nonviolent, declined both at and away from school between 1992 and 2005.

Fourteen homicides at school were reported in 2005-06, the latest year for which data was available.

About one homicide or suicide of a youth at school occurs per 3.2 million students.

Students are about 50 times more likely to be a homicide victim at nonschool events.

Source: Education Department

Our goal is to make our society, especially our open places such as schools, safe havens.  To do that we must practice and teach de-escalation of violent encounters. It’s not easy.  I am convinced however, that in the end our best defense against the violence in our society is not a cold war of deterence on a personal scale, but practicing peace on a personal scale, teaching it to our children, legislating it, making it every step and every breath.   Eventually means and ends must cohere.  As MLK said, there is both negative and positive peace.  Negative peace, the absence of active violence isn’t enough. We seek the presence of a spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.  This beloved community can’t exist if we are all carrying weapons, afraid of what might happen.  I’ve moved to Texas, but I don’t want to relive the wild west and have to quick draw at high noon.

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