The shooting rampage carried out by a young man who killed 20 Connecticut schoolchildren and six adults before killing himself does not justify arming teachers with guns, which would send "the wrong message" to kids, a Riverside-area lawmaker said today.
Mark Takano, recently elected to represent California's newly established 41st congressional district, released a statement responding to comments by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who on a Sunday television talk show argued for arming school officials to prevent the type of massacre that occurred Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Gohmert suggested that if Hook's principal -- among the first of gunman Adam Lanza's victims -- had had immediate access to a firearm, she could have used it to "take his head off before he can kill those precious kids," instead of lunging "heroically (at the shooter) with nothing in her hands."
Takano said that, as a teacher of nearly 25 years, he was "appalled" by Gohmert's comments.
"Our schools should be safe, positive environments, and having guns under teachers' desks or in closets not only sends the wrong message to our children, but puts their lives in danger the minute they enter school grounds, as every child would become a potential victim of a gun accident," the Democratic lawmaker said.
"We should be teaching our children that gun violence is never a way to settle differences and does not solve problems," he said.
Gohmert said Sunday that wherever concealed-carry gun laws are liberalized, there's a corresponding drop in crime. Published studies on the subject differ, however.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed -- and then- President George W. Bush signed -- a law permitting properly trained and thoroughly vetted airline pilots to carry handguns aboard their flights for self-defense. According to the Federal Flight Deck Officers' Association, which represents armed commercial aviators, more than 10,000 members are qualified to carry guns onto their planes. To date, none have had to use them.
The 1990 federal Gun Free School Zones Act mandates that pistols and rifles must be locked in a case within 1,000 feet of a K-12 campus, with exceptions for law enforcement and concealed-weapons licensees. Violating the law is a felony.
Since it went into effect, however, shootings have occurred on at least three-dozen K-12 campuses -- often with multiple victims -- throughout the country, most recently in Newtown.