Police in Plainfield[, Illinois] are asking officials for permission to store rifles in the town’s high schools so they’ll be ready if violence breaks out.
The Plainfield School Board is scheduled to consider the request at the board’s meeting next week.
Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek wants the district to install gun safes at its four high schools so the school resource officer can store a rifle. Konopek said having the extra weapon on hand would be useful “if a situation involving a shooter arises.”
As the kids say: lolwut?
Okay, we’re all aware of the recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Oak Creek, Wisconsin – not to mention past incidents at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University – but, stockpiling weapons in schools just in case? This is madness.
Even Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia, author of the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), which first found that the Second Amendment created an individual right to keep and bear certain types of firearms, might question the wisdom of storing guns in schools. As Justice Scalia explained in Heller:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
128 S. Ct. at 2816-17 (emphasis supplied).
Justice Scalia was, of course, talking about laws prohibiting private citizens from carrying guns into “sensitive places such as schools,” not prohibitions against law enforcement doing so; but my point is this: Even the Justice most hawkish on gun rights recognized that we have a long standing tradition of keeping guns out of certain “sensitive places,” and schools are a prime example of the kind of places we typically keep gun-free.
I’m sure there are experts far more knowledgeable than I on the subject, but to me it’s manifestly obvious why Chief Konopek’s idea is a bad one. If nothing else, he’s clearly underestimating the capacity of troublemakers to get around any measures the police put into place to secure the weapons; and so, at a minimum, there’s a real risk that a troubled but enterprising youth – or, perhaps even more so, a troubled but enterprising adult – will figure out a way to get his or her hands on the Chief’s weapons cache and wreak all kinds of havoc on innocent students, faculty and staff before the police can respond.
But more to the point, Chief Konopek’s approach assumes that the solution to a potential mass-shooting situation is just to out-gun the bad guys. Obviously there are times when the police have to use deadly force, but that doesn’t mean we should turn public high schools into shooting galleries.