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Dec 19, 201202:30 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Let’s make Wisconsin schools murder-free zones, not gun-free zones

Let’s make Wisconsin schools murder-free zones, not gun-free zones

(page 1 of 2)

What stopped the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday?

We know it wasn’t a sign on the wall. We know it wasn’t a law on the books. It wasn’t the outstretched arms of the desperate principal. Or common human decency. Only one thing stopped the slaughter at that Newtown, Conn., school: the imminent arrival of people with guns (aka police).

The 20-year-old shooter killed himself as he heard police arriving. Even so, he had time to shoot 20 young children and six school personnel, apparently each of them twice. What do they say? When seconds count the police are only minutes away.

What if that brave school principal, instead of fatally lunging at the shooter, had fired her drawn weapon? Perhaps she would have missed. Perhaps she would have hit an innocent bystander. (The entire student body, faculty, and support personnel were innocent bystanders.) Perhaps the shooter would have still gunned her down. Or, she might have found her mark; or he might have run. Perhaps a second teacher would have opened fire. In any of those scenarios, could the carnage have been any worse?

The cruel irony, of course, is that Sandy Hook Elementary was a gun-free zone. Except for that one person on Dec. 14, 2012, of course.

Wisconsin’s schools, public and private, are also gun-free zones. Anyone who carries a firearm into a school in violation of Statute WI 948.605 is guilty of a Class One felony. That’s the same category as murder.

Law enforcement is exempted, of course. But it means that Wisconsin citizens who took training; submitted to criminal background checks; have never committed a felony, been adjudged mentally deficient, or were the subject of a domestic abuse or harassment order – in other words, law-abiding folks who did what the state of Wisconsin commands and paid $50 for the privilege – are not trusted by the state to carry a concealed firearm into a school.

The state of Wisconsin does not trust the principals or teachers of East High School, or Toki Middle School, or Sandburg Elementary to have weapons – no matter how well trained they are – nor, I suspect, does the Madison School Board.

That has to change. I have reached out to several legislators’ offices to change the statute.

‘Pretend gun-free zones’

“Many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend ‘gun-free zones,’ such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. ... The problem is that by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. So when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved,” writes a law-school textbook author of “Guns, Mental Illness and Newtown” (The Wall Street Journal).

Real gun-free zones are a wonderful idea, but they are only real if they are created by metal detectors backed up by armed guards. Pretend gun-free zones, where law-abiding adults (who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class) are still disarmed, are magnets for evildoers who know they will be able to murder at will with little threat of being fired upon.

The massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., all took place in posted gun-free zones. (The one exception was the outdoors attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.)

What stopped all of them was armed intervention, including the August 2012 massacre of six worshipers (with four injured) at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.

The gunman’s rampage ended when one of the first police officers to arrive shot and killed him. – New York Times.

William J. Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, provides more examples:

In 2007, a gunman entered New Life Church in Colorado Springs and shot and killed two girls. ... [A] former police officer stationed as a volunteer security guard at the church, drew her firearm, shot and wounded the gunman before he could kill anyone else.

In 1997, high school student Luke Woodham stabbed his mother to death and then drove to Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, and shot and killed two people ... but Joel Myrick, the assistant principal, ran to his truck and grabbed his pistol, aimed it at Woodham and made him surrender. – CNN, “The case for gun rights is stronger than you think

Bennett could have recounted the following:

  • A 2002 terrorist attack at an Israeli school was quickly stopped by an armed teacher and a school guard.
  • A 2002 law school shooting in Grundy, Va., came to an abrupt conclusion when students carrying firearms confronted the shooter.
  • A 2007 mall shooting in Ogden, Utah, ended when an armed off-duty police officer intervened.
  • At the recent mall shooting in the state of Oregon, the gunman took his own life minutes after being confronted by a shopper carrying a concealed weapon. (Details here.)

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Dec 20, 2012 07:47 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Gallup is out today with a public opinion poll on what should be done to make schools safer. ( Increased police protection heads the list. While farther down the list, arming school officials still garners a 64% approval rating. It remains, to my mind, the most effective deterrent and the most immediate response.

But police should routinely make schools part of their regular foot patrols.

Hey, I got snow to blow.

Dec 20, 2012 08:37 am
 Posted by  Fritzderkat

Good common sense, Blaska, which unfortunately means it will likely be lost among dedicated anti-gun folks, most of whom don't know an AR-15 from a 12 gauge shotgun. Hint: In close quarters, shooting at children, women and unprepared others sitting in a movie theater or wandering around a mall, the 12 gauge loaded with buckshot would wreak terrible damage. Say, eight rounds in the tube, five spares on the rack, another five in a sleeve on the butt and as many other rounds as one might stuff in their pockets. Shotguns, btw, except for yer "sawed-off" versions, have never caused so much as an evil gleam in the eye whenever politicians in America get around to banning certain types of guns.

Dec 20, 2012 01:04 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

How do we build a coalition to institute such a plan? The day of the shooting, I left a message with Ron Johnson's office requesting such a plan be put in place. I am a CCW holder, I carry everywhere that I legally can, I am well trained in Martial Arts, I would be a huge advocate of such a proposal, how do we move it forward?!

Dec 20, 2012 02:10 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Where it's at is on the State level.

Contact Assembly Speaker Robin Vos at:

Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgrald at:

Governor Walker at:

Dec 20, 2012 11:51 pm
 Posted by  Dean Weichmann

Let me get this straight... You propose that the solution to gun violence is more guns.......

Dec 21, 2012 11:39 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

"Let me get this straight... You propose that the solution to gun violence is more guns......."

That's pretty much what Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt proposed when confronted with Fascism and Japanese militarism. Indeed, America became the arsenal of democracy. More guns in the hands of the good guys or (more probably) allowing the good guys to bear the guns they already possess in defense of the most defenseless of us all, our children. Or do you not suppose that criminals, crackheads, and looney toons are oblivious to all of your naive signage?

Your solution, Mr. W.?

Dec 21, 2012 05:56 pm
 Posted by  Dean Weichmann

Well Dave, I would prefer background checks, gun safety education, restrictions on gun sales that eliminate automatic or semi-automatic operation.

Such weapons should be restricted to the military.

As to the comparison to the conflict of WW2, yes in that case more guns....for the military.

Would you also advocate carrying grenades, or surface to air missiles?

Dec 22, 2012 06:00 am
 Posted by  uwbiz96

Except there ARE armed guards in schools. There was an armed guard at Columbine ( and one in Marinette a few years ago when a kid there held his class hostage. This blog and the NRA's official announcement are good logical arguments, but they're not solutions. Study after study shows that more guns leads to more death ( What we need are less guns in the bloodstream. Less guns to be stolen, less guns to be peddled at gun shows like antique lamps, less guns to be secreted out of mom's gun safe and taken to school. And more importantly, more gun fans need to be viewing their fellow gun fans suspiciously and reporting those who exhibit unsafe and weird behavior instead of feeling that the Second Amendment compels them to stick as many guns in as many hands as possible.

Dec 22, 2012 09:54 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

It's "fewer" guns, not less guns but that is a quibble. The same arguments, UWBiz96, were made for the 18th Amendment (Prohibition). So you are wrong in your interpretation. You are also wrong on the facts. There are NO armed guards in our schools. There was none in Sandy Hook, there are none in the Madison schools except when a police officer happens by.

I'll happily report my "fellow gun fans" when they act suspiciously, unsafe or weird. I can tell you that the gun club to which I belong mandates safe gun handling of its members. But try reporting "weirdness" the next time you're at the next Scott Walker protest/stalking. Be the police officer who has to become the weirdness cop.

Dec 25, 2012 12:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

While I'm not opposed to well-trained, well-checked individuals carrying guns, and agree that "No guns allowed" signs will not deter criminals, I believe Mr. Blaska has missed the larger issues:
* Why is the U.S. such a violent place?
* Why is it so easy for "the bad guys" to obtain firearms?
* Why have we cowered to the NRA, who hardly represent a sensible position on this issue?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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