AL State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (SD-2) is taking issue with Albertville Representative Kerry Rich's (HD-26) plan to allow public school personnel to carry weapons. The GOP Senator makes a compelling case for why Rich's plan is, well, just plain stupid (my words, not his).
Holtzclaw is a retired Marine who served as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor. He does an excellent job dissecting flaws in Rich's reasoning.
For instance, Rich's plan requires school personnel to "undergo firearms training every six months." Holtzclaw notes that the requirement is inadequate:
Then there is the most important skill set - being an effective shooter - putting steel on target. This can only be acquired over time through regular trips to the firing range. When training Marines I shot several weapons in a single day and hundreds of rounds of ammunition a week – it was my primary job. Today, I’m good, but I’m not nearly as good as I once was. My point, it takes time and dedication to acquire and maintain this skill level. Should we expect teachers to maintain this skill level when armed in a school with our children?
Holtzclaw also notes a huge flaw in the proponents' plan to arm teachers and principals:the chaos factor. This is the first thing that occurred to me when putting guns in schools was first proposed as a "solution" to school safety.
I have a shotgun and a handgun and I target shoot. I can hit my target most of the time with the .38 and 95+% of the time with the shotgun. But before each shot, I have to take a second or two to check my stance, slow my breathing, and aim. At no time am I hiding behind furniture, checking my back for an assailant, dealing with panicked bystanders running in front of me, or afraid for my life.
Holtzclaw describes a similar situation:
We must include high stress training environments that go along with rapid decision making; is the shooter active or threatening, on the move or holed up with hostages? We must add the fog of war in our training - loud noises, confusion, gun flashes, confined spaces, people being shot, people running into the line of fire; you get the point. We should also include draw techniques from our concealed carry position. This will vary widely based on how the weapon is being carried, how crowded the room is, and where the shooter is encountered. Simply put, our teachers must train, train, train in realistic environments.
Um yes. The reason the military & police spend so much time and money on training is because it's crucial to their success and their safety. No matter how skilled you are as a range shooter, a live fire situation requiring a clear head and split-second decision making is a totally different matter.
Senator Holtzclaw is a trained Marine and he knows that. We can only hope that the rest of our legislators will listen to the experts and to the almost unanimous disapproval of school officials.
I don't agree with Holtzclaw on many issues, but he's right on this one and deserves an "attaboy" for trying to stop the stampede.