January 22, 2013

CHARLES COOKE: Gun Clubs At School: The notion of schools as “gun-free zones” flies in the face of history.

In 1975, New York state had over 80 school districts with rifle teams. In 1984, that had dropped to 65. By 1999 there were just 26. The state’s annual riflery championship was shut down in 1986 for lack of demand. This, sadly, is a familiar story across the country. The clubs are fading from memory, too. A Chicago Tribune report from 2007 notes the astonishment of a Wisconsin mother who discovered that her children’s school had a range on site. “I was surprised, because I never would have suspected to have something like that in my child’s school,” she told the Tribune. The district’s superintendent admitted that it was now a rarity, confessing that he “often gets raised eyebrows” if he mentions the range to other educators. The astonished mother raised her eyebrows — and then led a fight to have the range closed. “Guns and school don’t mix,” she averred. “If you have guns in school, that does away with the whole zero-tolerance policy.”

But how wise is that “zero-tolerance policy”? Until 1989, there were only a few school shootings in which more than two victims were killed. This was despite widespread ownership of — and familiarity with — weapons and an absence of “gun-free zones.”

It’s like all that gun-control and deliberate “denormalization” of guns backfired or something.

UPDATE: Reader Gary Robinson emails: “We worry about kids and sex – so we have sex education in school. We educate kids about driver safety, drugs, healthy lifestyles and a host of other things that we have concerns about so kids learn safe practices. If we’re worried about kids and guns, why don’t we teach basic gun safety in schools?”

I would say that the effort by gun-controllers to “denormalize” gun ownership, and to portray it as deviant and dangerous, actually increases the allure of guns to unbalanced minds.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Danielle Ivey writes:

I can tell you that youth shooting sports is alive and well and safely existing outside the tyranny of the public school systems. I’m one of 11 coaches for a 40+ member multidisciplinary team – rifle, pistol, archery and shotgun. Each year we compete in our state tournament that attracts over 2000 competitors in 36 different matches. While our focus is teaching safety and a life skill, we do have alumni who have been in the running for the US National and Olympic teams.

In 2 weeks, 6 of our members will be competing for $10k in scholarship money at the San Antonio Livestock Expo tournament.

I just rebuilt my office computer or I’d send you some great pics of our members in action at last year’s state tournament.

P.S. – Most rifle teams that are school based have gone under the auspices of JROTC programs.

Good to hear.