VT massacre: OH Gov. says state gun laws sound; Sheriff calls for armed teachers
The Dayton Daily News is reporting that while Governor Ted Strickland (D) believes dangerous mentally disturbed people should not have access to guns, he does not believe the Virginia Tech case means Ohio's gun [control] laws need strengthened.
Gov. Strickland, who was a practicing psychologist prior to being elected to Congress in 1992, says the massacre raises troubling questions about how mental illness is addressed, telling the DDN that not everyone with mental issues is dangerous.
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From the story:
- Strickland said the Virginia tragedy reminded him of a troubled young man he treated during his early 1980s tenure as a psychologist at Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital in Columbus.
The young man had been discharged from the hospital. He brought Strickland drawings of guns and knives and suffered from paranoia so severe he would walk with his back against walls "looking for snipers," Strickland said.
One day he held a knife to Strickland's chest and described in detail how he could stab him, take him to the river and cut him up.
"I said, 'I'm going to trust you not to do that,'?" Strickland said.
The man put away the knife.
...Strickland said he can only hope that the things he did to help that young man kept something more terrible from happening.
While Strickland believes dangerous mentally disturbed people should not have access to guns, he told the newspaper he does not believe the Virginia Tech case means Ohio's gun [control] laws need strengthened.
Again from the story:
- The state has no waiting period to buy guns, but a background check through the FBI is required and guns cannot be sold to certain people, said John Fulkerson, section chief for Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.
Licensed gun dealers are prohibited from selling guns to persons who have felony, stalking or domestic violence convictions; have received dishonorable discharges; are fugitives, noncitizens, or drug addicts or who have been committed by a court to a mental institution.
Elsewhere in the state, the Virginia Tech massacre has prompted one of Ohio's 88 sheriffs (the top law enforcement officials in the state) to write a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland and state Rep. Courtney Combs suggesting that armed officers should be required at all Ohio schools and colleges, public and private.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
- [Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones] asked for a new state law requiring "mandatory armed law enforcement presence at all schools" in light of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech.
"This approach will not come without a price tag. It will not be a guarantee that a school shooting won't ever take place," Jones wrote. "But it can be a step toward promoting the safety of all Ohio students."
Combs, R-Fairfield, said he told Jones on Thursday that he would consider sponsoring a bill to train officers or teachers who volunteer to carry weapons to protect children in schools.
"It needs to be debated," he said in an interview. "There probably will be a lot of debate."
Keith Dailey, a spokesman for Strickland, said the sheriff's letter arrived late Thursday, and the governor had not reviewed it.
Sheriff Jones suggested that the armed guards could be law enforcement officers or even teachers, administrators and faculty trained and deputized as "Peace Officers" by the state.
Jones' letter asserts that the measure would be "an effective deterrent to a repeat of the Virginia Tech events."
Again from the story:
- One issue would be cost, Combs said, "But we go back to the old adage, 'What's a life worth?'"
Combs thinks an armed officer could make a difference as a deterrent in a high school. If someone knew there was an armed, trained person in the school, "it may deter you from going in there to do something."
Combs said most schools already are posted as "no-gun" zones, but if someone is willing to kill, a "no-gun" zone is meaningless.
Among the legislator's other concerns: Any armed officer or teacher would have to volunteer for such duty and would have to be trained.
Combs said he thinks a bill can be introduced by the end of next month, and debated in committee in the fall.
It is most encouraging to see that, from the Governor's office to one of the top law enforcement offices in the state, the 'how can we prevent this from happening again' discourse is focusing on real solutions, and not more feel-good, do-nothing gun control drivel.
Sheriff Jones and Rep. Combs are on the right track in terms of allowing the good guys to be armed in our schools and universities. However, according to the Ohio Department of Education's web site, there are approximately 4500 public and non-public schools in the state of Ohio - and we haven't even begun counting colleges! Paying armed officers to attend classes is going to be extremely cost prohibitive. What's more, a uniformed officer would likely be the first to be targeted by a psychopath such as the VT shooter, as was the unarmed guard manning metal detectors outside the high school in Red Lake, MN.
A much more cost-effective solution would be to work with the U.S. Congress to change our laws so that teachers and administrators with concealed handgun licenses may carry their firearms at Buckeye state schools, and to allow licensed adults (students and faculty) to carry their firearms on campus at Ohio colleges. The people of this state have a right to bear arms for self-defense (check Ohio's Constitution), and that human right does not stop at the doors of our schools and universities.
Buckeye Firearms Association will be working with our elected officials throughout this legisative session on proposals designed to keep our defenseless kids safe, and to allow our young adults their Constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense.
Governor Strickland calls for Task Force on Campus Security