Poll: Columbus-area voters favor armed officers in schools by 2 - 1 margin

by Chad D. Baus

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that, by almost a 2-to-1 ratio, Columbus City Schools voters want an armed police officer in their school.

From the article:

A new poll by Saperstein Associates for The Dispatch shows support for gun-carrying police across geographic, racial, gender and age boundaries, regardless of whether those answering have a child in Columbus schools.

"There definitely should be armed officers in the school, and clearly with everything going on in the nation, with Sandy Hook being the biggest thing," said survey participant Gian Sposito, 24, of the West Side, referring to the Connecticut elementary school where 20 first-graders and six employees were gunned down in December.

"When I went to (Pickerington Schools), we had an armed officer in the school every single day,” said the warehouse worker. "That put everybody at ease.

"I think that every single school, from kindergarten schools through elementary school through high school and the collegiate level, there should be armed officers around the clock. That would also give young people a positive outlook on law enforcement as well."

He is among the 61 percent favoring the armed officers.

The Dispatch reports the poll was taken before a 12-year-old student opened fire on Monday, October 21 outside a Nevada middle school, killing a teacher and wounding two classmates before turning the 9 mm handgun on himself, and before charges were filed against a 14-year-old Massachusetts student in the killing of a teacher the following day.

Columbus already has armed police officers in its high schools. Most suburban districts also have these "school resource officers" in their high schools. Some, including Dublin schools, have them in middle schools.

Respondent Mark Noble would go a step further, because a shooter would know to take out the police officer first: "It's better to have employees who are armed. You're already paying employees to be there every day."

A software engineer who is also a firearms instructor, Noble, 37, of Clintonville, said studies of mass shootings show that the body count is directly related to "how fast someone who is capable of killing the shooter arrives. It doesn't matter if they have a badge on."

He said that when his 21-month-old daughter is old enough to go to school, he would be much more comfortable knowing that staff members who've taken Ohio's conceal-carry training are present and armed.

"I think it would be a selling point for the school, in my personal opinion."

That urban voters spanning the demographic spectrum support having armed police officers in schools is highly encouraging. But the fact is, there simply aren't enough officers, let alone enough funding, to accomplish this goal. The concerns raised by poll-responded Mark Noble are also valid. In school shootings where there have been uniformed officers present, they have simply been ambushed first.

Given these challenges, the more practical, feasible, and realistic option is for boards of education to exercise their legal right to authorize willing staff members with concealed handgun licenses to carry in the school. This is already happening in some schools in Ohio, but others are fearful that their communities will not be supportive. While that may be true, initially, the fact is that people are often under the mistaken impression that police officers receive far more annual firearms training than they actually do. These poll numbers show that, with a little bit of education, there exists potential to have overwhelming support for having competent, trained staffers protecting children in our schools every day.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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