P.O. Box 2446
Lexington, SC 29071
May 21, 2007
The Honorable James Harrison
South Carolina House of Representatives
P.O. Box 11867
Columbia, SC 29211
Re: H. 3964
Dear Rep. Harrison:
The issue of allowing concealed weapon permit (CWP) holders to possess guns in
schools is an emotion-laden issue. However, in addressing this issue, our top
priority must be the protection of our children. Partisan politics, the
pursuits of special interest groups, and emotional fear mongering must be set
1. Self-defense and defense of others is supported by virtually all religions.
Children are not able to defend themselves. Thus, it is our moral
responsibility to protect our children.
2. CWP holders have a proven record of safety everywhere they are allowed to
carry, including schools. SC CWP holders carried in schools prior to 1996
3. There are cases of private citizens stopping an active school shooter before
the police could arrive. But, there are no cases of a CWP holder being a school
4. Police officers who properly follow standard operating procedures will not
have any problems out of CWP holders when the police eventually arrive at the
5. Virginia Tech was proud of helping kill a bill similar to H. 3964 because
being a "gun free" zone made them feel safe. But, feeling safer and being safer
are two very different things.
6. The federal "Gun Free School Zones Act" allows SC CWP holders to legally
carry in SC schools. For the safety of our children and the benefit of society,
SC law should mirror the federal law on school carry.
Below are some points that explain why H. 3964 is a good bill that would help
provide a safer environment for our children, and therefore should be enacted
into law as soon as possible.
Point 1. The courts have consistently ruled the police have NO legal duty to
protect us! While the police may have good intentions, the only real duty to
protect others comes from a moral duty to do so. This moral duty to protect is
not only vested in police officers, it is invested in each of us by our creator.
To take the ability to perform this God given duty away from law abiding CWP
holders is morally wrong.
Point 2. Prior to 1996, SC CWP holders were allowed to carry in schools, and
did so without incident. The Associated Press reports that over 25% of states
currently allow CWP holders to carry in schools, and they were not able to point
to any problems at schools related to CWP holders.
The best available research shows liberal CWP laws work to lower violent crime
rates for all people, not just CWP holders. The following facts show a
completely different picture than the fear mongers want you to see:
"The benefits of concealed handguns are not limited to those who use them in
self-defense. â€¦ Citizens who have no intention of ever carrying concealed
handguns in a sense get a 'free ride' from the crime-fighting efforts of their
fellow citizens. However, the 'halo' effect created by these laws is apparently
not limited to people who share the characteristics of those who carry the guns.
The most obvious example is the drop in murders of children following the
adoption of nondiscretionary laws. Arming older people not only may provide
direct protection to these children, but also causes criminals to leave the
area." John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun
Control Laws 161 (2nd ed., 2000).
Years ago, Israel was suffering from terrorist attacks upon their schools and
children. Israel decided to allow armed citizens to congregate at schools.
Armed grandparents would go to schools and play games to pass the time while the
children attended classes. The terrorist attacks upon their schools stopped.
It is unreasonable to believe historically law abiding people who step onto
school property will suddenly turn into deranged murderers or reckless shooters
of our children. This is especially true when one considers the only CWP
holders who would have any reason to be at the schools would be the parents and
teachers of the children. It is logically inconsistent to entrust our children
to these teachers, but still believe these teachers would kill our children. It
is especially absurd to think this of the parents.
Point 3. The fear mongers are at their worst when they start crying about how
CWP holders with concealed sidearms are a threat to the safety of our children.
There are absolutely NO cases of CWP holders shooting any children at schools.
But, there are a number of documented cases of private citizens using firearms
to stop an active school shooter from killing even more innocent children.
In Pearl, MS, assistant principal Joel Myrick heard gun shots at his school and
ran to his car to grab a handgun. Myrick returned to find the shooter trying to
make his escape from one school so as to go to another school to kill even more
children. Myrick used his handgun to force the killer to surrender. The police
showed up 5 minutes later.
In Edinboro, PA, James Strand - the business owner of where a school dance was
being held - heard gun shots at the dance and grabbed his shotgun. Strand
caught the active shooter just as the shooter had finished reloading his gun.
Strand pointed his shotgun at the shooter and held him until the police arrived
11 minutes later.
In Grundy, VA, two students - Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross - at the
Appalachian School of Law heard gun shots at their school and ran to their
respective vehicles and grabbed their own handguns. They confronted the active
shooter from different angles and demanded he drop his weapon. Once the shooter
dropped his gun, another student jumped on the shooter. The police arrived some
time later, and well after the shooting had stopped.
Lets compare these cases of private citizens quickly stopping an active school
shooter with the cases where the safety of our children is dependent upon
waiting for the police to arrive and handle things.
In Littleton, CO, two school shooters were allowed to continue shooting
innocent children even after the police arrived at the scene until the police
finally decided to enter the school hours later after the shooting had already
stopped. One teacher died from loss of blood, but it is thought he would have
survived if the police had acted sooner. Thankfully, many police have now
decided to change their tactics to emphasize a more immediate response to an
active shooter than was used at Columbine High School.
At Virginia Tech, the campus was crawling with police due to a double murder on
campus that same morning. But, even with the campus crawling with police
looking for a murderer on the loose, it still took the police 5 minutes to get
to the scene of the active school shooting. During those long five minutes, the
school shooter fired off 170 rounds, hitting his dead victims 100 times - many
at point blank range, and killing 32 students. Those totals do not include the
wounded. The shooter had to reload his guns multiple times. Then, the shooter
took his own life. If there had been even one CWP holder there, things could
well have turned out differently.
It should be obvious to any thinking person that the best way to protect our
children from an active school shooter is to stop the shooter as quickly as
possible. While there is no way to stop a deranged person from starting to
shoot people at a school, we do have the means to stop the shooter before the
body count gets bigger and bigger. The best means we have to protect our
children is to allow SC CWP holders - the mothers, fathers, and teachers of our
children - to carry at schools.
Some people will argue we should leave the job of protecting our children to
the "professionals." But, when minutes can mean the difference between life and
death as shown by what happened at Virginia Tech, waiting minutes for even the
best trained police to arrive is never as good for our children's safety as
already having an armed protector at the scene.
It would be laughable, if it were not so tragic, when the fear mongers claim
that allowing CWP holders to possess self-defense sidearms at schools will harm
more children than letting deranged killers have free reign at the schools. The
fear mongers would have you think it is better to keep existing laws to prevent
that which has never happened - i.e., CWP holders shooting our children, than to
pass laws to allow our children to be protected by the mothers, fathers, and
teachers of our children in a way that has already happened many times.
The fear mongers somehow believe that a deranged killer who is willing to
violate God's law against killing people, will refrain from doing so because of
a man made law that says guns are not allowed at schools. This is unreasonable,
illogical, and should be considered criminally negligent.
Point 4. The fear mongers argue that allowing CWP holders on school grounds
will make things impossibly difficult for the police when the police arrive at
the scene. They claim they fear coming upon an armed conflict with 15 armed
people and not being able to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. Such
fears are completely unfounded.
First, by the time the police arrived in each of the documented cases of armed
citizens saving our children, the active shooter had already been subdued and
under the control of the armed citizen. The police only had to take care of the
paperwork and write the reports. The real work of stopping the killer had
already been done before the police arrived.
Second, proper police use of force dictates that the responding officer
immediately identify himself as a police officer and then tell the people at the
scene what he wants them to do. So, when the police officer arrives, all he
need do is say: "I am the police. Drop your guns." The good guys will drop
their guns. The bad guys will not. That should not be too difficult for a
properly trained police officer to do to distinguish the good guys from the bad
guys. If that is too much of a problem for police, then the solution is to
increase police training. The solution is not to allow more of our children to
die in an active school shooting situation simply because the police are too
unskilled to follow proper procedures.
Third, the claims that there will be 10 to 15 armed people at the scene of a
school shooting (as claimed by Rep. Todd Rutherford on CNN Headline News with
Erica Hill) is absolutely ridiculous! Only one percent of the people in South
Carolina have a CWP. Anyone under the age of 21 years old can not even obtain a
CWP in South Carolina, which - for all practical purposes - means that only
seniors, graduate students, professors, or mature people who started college
later in life will have a CWP. So, even in a large lecture class of 100
students, it would be extremely unusual to have more than 1 or 2 CWP holders in
the class. In fact, the chances of having 10 armed students there would be less
than 3/1000ths of 1%, and the chances of having 15 armed students there would be
about 1 in 667 million.
It is amazing how the fear mongers can get so worked up over a scenario that
has never happened and is a statistical non occurrence, while completely
ignoring the real life scenario of a maniac shooting up an unarmed classroom
even though it has happened more than once. Then, the fear mongers want us to
believe they have the high moral ground and are credible when they wring their
hands about their bizarre scenarios and propose more gun control even as they
turn a blind eye to the things that actually have happened.
Point 5. In 2006, Virginia Tech lobbied the Virginia General Assembly and
asked them to kill HB 1572 - a bill to allow CWP holders to carry on school
grounds. Virginia Tech did then just as some of our South Carolina colleges are
now doing today. Virginia Tech was successful in getting the General Assembly
to kill the bill in subcommittee. Afterwards, Virginia Tech spokesperson Larry
Hincker said, "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General
Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and
visitors feel safe on our campus."
Our children deserve better than to be sacrificed on the altar of political
correctness. Our children deserve to be safe, not simply feel safe. H. 3964
will actually help make our schools safer for our children, not just make them
Point 6. The federal "Gun Free School Zones Act" allows South Carolina CWP
holders to carry in schools. The federal Centers for Disease Control found
there was insufficient evidence to show any gun control law has ever saved any
lives at all. Yet, South Carolina law makes CWP carry in schools a felony even
though there is no evidence to support the value of that law. On the other
hand, there is statistically significant evidence to show the South Carolina law
is flawed and that such a law could turn a South Carolina school into the next
Dr. John Lott studied the impact of liberal concealed carry laws upon crime,
especially multiple victim public shootings as occur in school shootings. Here
is what Dr. Lott wrote:
"What can stop these attacks? â€¦ [W]hile arrest and conviction rates,
prison sentences, and the death penalty reduce murders generally, they have no
significant effect on public shootings. There is a simple reason for this:
Those who commit these crimes usually die in the attack. â€¦ The normal
penalties simply do not apply.
â€¦ The best way to prevent these attacks might therefore be to limit the
carnage they can cause if they do attack. We find only one policy that
effectively accomplishes this: the passage of right-to-carry laws.
When different states passed right-to-carry laws during the nineteen years we
studied, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by a whopping
84 percent. Deaths from all these shootings plummeted by 90 percent, and
injuries by 82 percent. â€¦ The very few attacks that still occur â€¦ tend to
occur in particular places where concealed handguns are forbidden, such as
Concealed-handgun laws also have an important advantage over uniformed police,
for would-be attackers can aim their initial assault at a single officer, or
alternatively wait until he leaves the area. With concealed carrying by
ordinary citizens, it is not known who is armed until the criminal actually
Despite all the debate about criminals behaving irrationally, reducing their
ability to accomplish their warped goals reduces their willingness to attack.
â€¦ Unfortunately, without concealed carry, ordinary citizens are sitting
ducks, waiting to be victimized." John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime:
Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws 195-197 (2nd ed., 2000).
H. 3964 is not about kids carrying guns on campus because kids can not possess
handguns. H. 3964 is about allowing parents of students to possess a handgun
when caring for their children at school. It is about teachers being prepared
to defend our children if a deranged killer seeks notoriety for shooting up a
school as has happened many times already. It is about older female students
taking night classes and being able to walk to their cars in dark parking lots
without becoming easy victims of rapists.
The parents who have taken the time and effort to get a CWP should not be
turned into felons for dropping off or picking up their children at schools and
colleges. It is unreasonable to force parents of college students to travel
unarmed while driving hours each way to drop off or retrieve their children from
some distant college, oft times in the dark of night. It is unreasonable to
force a parent to travel unarmed while going to and from work in a crime ridden
area just because the parent also has to drop off or pick up their child from
school. It is unreasonable to turn classic soccer moms into felons for
possessing a handgun on school property when they suddenly find that the team's
away game is at a school instead of a public field.
If we truly loved our children, we would not create safe havens for the killers
of our children. Instead, we would recognize there is a difference between gang
bangers and CWP holders. We would recognize that CWP holders are the mothers
and fathers of these school children. We would recognize that letting mothers,
fathers, and teachers save our children from a mass murderer is more important
than hopefully punishing the murderer later.
The fear mongers have predicted "Wild West" shootouts and blood in the streets
every time a liberal gun law has been proposed. Not once have these fear
mongers been right. It is now time to do what should have been done years ago -
simply reject such lies, fantasies, and deceptions and do the right thing to
enhance our children's safety.
The most effective way to save our children is to allow the proven good guys -
SC CWP holders - the right to carry on school grounds just as federal law
already does. We must repeal the criminal safe haven law.
H. 3964 is well grounded in principle, logic, and fact, and deserves to be
enacted into law. GrassRoots GunRights asks that you pass this bill.
Robert D. Butler, J.D.
GrassRoots GunRights SC