Responsibly armed Americans, not more failed gun laws, can help prevent another Parkland
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Just over one year ago, 17 innocent students and staff were brutally murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. This was a horrific tragedy, as were subsequent massacres in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks, Calif., and as a nation we continue to mourn the victims and their families. 

Unfortunately, as we see all too often in Washington, D.C., much of the attention from anti-gun legislators in Congress has focused on blindly passing more laws, more background checks and more “gun-free zones,” while failing to note that they would have done virtually nothing to prevent these attacks. We see that this week as House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Dems walk Trump trade tightrope Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution MORE (D-Calif.) pushed legislation that would essentially criminalize private gun sales and add an indefinite extension to the time to complete a NICS instant background check. Once again, anti-Second Amendment politicians in Washington want to punish law-abiding Americans instead of taking concrete steps to stop evildoers. 

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It’s time that we as a society finally have an honest conversation about not only what causes mass shootings, but what our government can and should do to save as many lives as possible. That conversation should start with acknowledging the reality that murderous maniacs know certain locations like schools and places of worship are soft targets where those inside often simply do not have the ability to protect themselves. 

Instead of restricting American’s Second Amendment rights, our government should be doing everything possible to protect our children and that includes allowing, and supporting, trained, licensed teachers and administrators to arm themselves. In countless situations across this country, responsibly-armed Americans have been the front lines of defense against evildoers because they have the necessary knowledge, training and experience to protect those around them. In an emergency situation, seconds matter and a well-trained, responsible gun owner can save lives in an active-shooter situation.

One courageous person who has been vocal in support of this effort sadly knows the horror of the Parkland shooting more than all of us. Andrew Pollock, whose daughter Meadow was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is now a member of the Florida Board of Education and described himself in an interview with the Palm Beach Post this week as “not pro-gun or anti-gun.”  What he does support however is allowing guns at school — in well-trained hands. He correctly observed that the average school shooting takes just four minutes, not nearly enough time for law enforcement to respond and neutralize the attacker. 

This was a position also endorsed in December by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission which voted 13-1 to recommend the state Legislature allow teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus to stop future shootings. The commission said it's not enough to just have one or two police officers or armed guards on campus. 

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Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri who led the state commission said he long believed only law enforcement personnel should carry guns at school, but his position "morphed" after studying other shootings and watching security video of the Stoneman Douglas attack. According to the Associated Press, Gualtieri said it "gnaws" at him that gunman Nikolas Cruz stopped firing five times to reload his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, but no teacher or other school employee could use those pauses to shoot Cruz. He now believes trained, volunteer teachers should have access to guns so they can stop shooters who get past other safeguards.

This is a simple, common-sense message that has been embraced by many Americans like Sheriff Gualtieri but unfortunately one that has been hotly contested and debated over the last year with the nationwide conversation on gun violence in America.  Many still refuse to acknowledge that study after study has shown responsibly-armed Americans are among the most law-abiding citizens in the country and they have the necessary knowledge, training and experience to protect those around them. We aren’t talking about vigilante justice, but about saving innocent lives from violent criminals in circumstances where every minute can mean the difference between life and death. 

Currently, teachers in 28 states can carry firearms, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, and in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, Florida law was changed to allow school districts to train and arm certain school employees but inexplicably, not teachers themselves.  That needs to change. Our government at the local, state and federal levels should be supporting responsibly-armed Americans and not targeting them with more failed, feel-good gun laws that would restrict Second Amendment rights but ultimately do nothing to strengthen public safety.  

Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.