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Reader's Forum
Guns in right hands create safer environment
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Editor:
I was browsing through the Jan. 25 Beacon when I came across Suzette Porter’s article with the title, “Arming our schools is not the way.” As a relatively well-educated man and a recently retired local police officer, school resource officer, SWAT team member, traffic homicide investigator, police chaplain and current pastor, I was anxious to read Porter’s take on the current school safety issues we face.

Is Porter being serious in the first three paragraphs? I don’t hear people talking about or insinuating that we ought to have “armed guards” all over our schools. I do know that we already have well-trained, armed, and hand selected school resource officers in our middle and high schools now, and they’re doing a great job of keeping the peace and having positive interaction with the students. Remember, I was one of them. We do a good job.

Porter states that The National Rifle Association and “others” (unnamed) say that we can keep our children safe using “gun-toting guards” at our schools. Porter appears to be exaggerating the point in an apparent attempt to say that we will have gone too far if we do arm certain responsible leaders in the elementary schools. She visualizes something like “a police state.”

Thankfully, Porter then reveals her prejudice toward guns in general. That’s sad. If we cannot leave our past fears and discomforts behind, we may never grow up. I speak from experience but will not bore you with the details. Porter doesn’t like guns. Sadly, her father was killed in a hunting accident before she ever really knew him. There were neither guns in her house nor any in the schools. She continues with exclaiming that there were tensions and issues when whites and blacks were forced to attend school together in the ’70s. I too, remember those days. I was there. We actually don’t know how many knives and or guns may have been there. We found some knives but few guns.

Porter states, “I can’t imagine going to school in a place where armed guards were the norm.”

Can you imagine armed and uniformed school resource officers? They’re doing wonders for the middle and high schools. Imagine them – imagine peace in the hallways and classrooms. Ms. Porter, we’re not safe in many average places in society today. Bad guys you don’t know about because you can’t see them could shatter your peaceful world in a heartbeat. You just don’t see them. Perhaps because you’d prefer not to.

I’ll agree with you “parents have to be responsible. They have to pay attention to their kids.” Absolutely. And many are doing a poor job of it. You note that violence and killing are romanticized on TV, in video games, and news broadcasts. Then you declare that “No one is teaching our youth the difference between pretend and reality.” Please let me introduce you to a phenomenon: our mainline churches are doing it. Of course, in this day and age, it’s sometimes difficult to get the children there because some parents have abdicated the authority of teaching and the proper upbringing of children in the home. Let’s suggest that the parents of our youth put down the TV remote, put the beer back in the fridge, and start setting an example for their own kids to follow – start spending quality time with them and turn off the tube. I could ramble for some time here.

In closing, I think history proves time and time again that responsible gun packers are an asset to any civilized society. When I was toting a gun as a cop, I never was challenged by a criminal. I was never beat up. I was never fired upon and I never picked a fight with anyone. Guns, by themselves, do absolutely nothing to “create any environment.” But guns in the right hands can and do help create a safer environment and help to ensure that it continues. Not everyone grows up in a peaceful environment, but anyone can help to create one. But they may need some back-up. Guns are just another tool that may help make that happen.

It has been great chattin’ with you. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Peace to you and yours.

John McNeil
Pinellas Park
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