Ex-teacher: Ban on some weapons, clips offer best chance for school safety

BY MARYANN SONNTAG Published: February 2, 2013

I am a retired teacher, counselor and principal. I am also a wife, mother and grandmother of elementary-age schoolchildren. My 35 years of experience has been in school systems in the Northeast, South and Midwest. And yes, I was raised near Newtown, Conn. So today's issue of gun violence hits close to home.

I don't own a gun. I wasn't raised in a gun-owner milieu. However, I've had friends, neighbors and colleagues who own guns. I respect the right of our citizens to possess firearms for hunting and self-protection. I do agree with these friends that military-style assault weapons and large magazine clips aren't part of hunting deer, quail or the like. They're meant for mass shootings.

More importantly, I want to speak about assault weapons and large magazine clips as they relate to schools. Educators are in the profession to instruct and guide. They're not meant to be armed guards. While I do think that a police presence at schools is necessary, I disagree with arming teachers. I've worked closely with sheriffs who were assigned to my schools and these individuals became part of the school family, helping me in many ways.

However, one police officer doesn't guarantee protection from a mass shooter. If a perpetrator wants to enter a school even with locked entrances, he or she can find a way. My concern is that the perpetrator has easy access to assault weapons and large magazine clips. By the time that one police officer can get to the shooter, many young people and staff could be killed. Having an officer in a school isn't the only answer. Banning assault weapons and large magazine clips is a more reasonable approach.