Armed Officers on Campus Will Keep our Kids Safe
By Assemblyman Devon Mathis
***Editor’s Note: The following article is one viewpoint on arming teachers in classrooms. On April 26, another viewpoint was published in the article “Proposals to Arm Teachers Could Not be More Wrongheaded.”
When we drop our children off at the bus stop, we’re expecting to send them off to a safe environment where they can grow and learn. Sadly, the horrific shootings we have seen at schools around the country have proven that is no longer the case. We can, and must, do more to protect our students from gun violence.
While some politicians’ knee-jerk reaction is to tighten California’s already strict gun laws even further, a look at “gun free zones” shows that not the answer. Cities like Chicago or Washington D.C. have essentially tried to ban firearms but have some of the worst rates of violent crime in the nation. From schools to movie theaters, many of the recent mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. Put simply, banning guns sends criminals a message that people in the area are easy targets.
To truly keep students safe, we need to make sure that our schools have someone who’s trained to stop an attack. Many schools currently employ school resource officers who are trained to interact with students and respond to emergencies on school grounds. Unfortunately, many smaller school districts don’t have the resources to hire these guards.
A bill in the Legislature would help. Assembly Bill 2067 will require an armed police officer on every campus and reimburse local school districts for the cost. Armed officers have proven to be effective way to stop school shootings — just last month a heroic school resource officer stopped a shooter at a Maryland high school within one minute of the first shot being fired.
This proposal is especially important for rural schools. While urban campuses likely have police patrolling nearby, that isn’t true for more remote areas. California’s rural counties often have small sheriff’s departments, and it can take more than an hour for a deputy to cover the long distance to respond to an emergency. Having an officer on each campus will dramatically cut down those response times.
Armed officers will also serve as a powerful deterrent to would-be school shooters. With the knowledge that every campus will be staffed with someone who can fight back within seconds, criminals will think twice before committing an act of violence.
This is a bold proposal, but the troubling increase in gun violence in our schools demands a bold solution. Rather than pursuing yet another set of ineffective gun restrictions, California should take action to help our communities deter and respond to school violence. Hiring armed, trained officers, ready to respond quickly, is a common-sense investment that will keep our students safe.
Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, represents the 26th Assembly District. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California