REJECT the proposal to place Assault Rifles in our High Schools
This petition made change with 429 supporters!
I am writing to give voice to my opposition to the proposal to store a rifle or rifles on school grounds in Plainfield. First, let me say that I understand the basic impetus behind the proposal, and I am sympathetic to the fears and concerns that give rise to this impetus. Second, I appreciate and applaud the Plainfield police department's eagerness to keep our students safe while in the care of Plainfield's schools. However, I strongly oppose the storage of an assault rifle on school grounds for three primary reasons, which I hope you will find well thought out and logically valid.
First, the presence of a rifle on school grounds is a reaction to an extremely unlikely event. School shootings, which leave families torn and scar communities, are a terrible tragedy, but they are also exceedingly rare. Each year, (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) approximately 49 million students attend public schools in the U.S. in grades K-12. In 2009, there were 25 homicides in public schools, in total, across the U.S. Statistics were verified from the National Center for Education Statistics, as well as the CDC—“From July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, there were 33 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Of the 33 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, 25 were homicides, 5 were suicides, and 3 were legal interventions.” Simple math puts the odds of any single student being the victim of a fatal homicide at a touch greater than 1 in 2 million. In other words, the likelihood of the event against which this weapon is meant to guard is spectacularly low.
Further, according to the National School Safety Center, in-school homicides are declining rather than increasing. “The percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 2 percent of the total number of youth homicides overall”. GunsAmerica.com lists the price of a new AR-15 as between $1654.99-$2250.00. Google shows pricing of combination lock gun safes from between $399.00 and well over $1000.00. When considering the cost of such items as an AR-15 (the weapon cited as the item of choice for this proposal), and safe storage of these items, we’re looking at a median cost of $2652.50 per school, for a total of $7957.50. I DO NOT ENDORSE this kind of expenditure for a long shot of an event, and for items which may or may not be useful in the management or safe resolution of said event. I understand that this bill is likely to be footed by the Plainfield Police Department and not the School District, but regardless, this expenditure still comes out of my tax dollars.
Second, the presence of a rifle on school grounds is, in the event of a homicide, extravagantly unlikely to stop the event or ameliorate the effects of the homicidal event. The majority of homicides that take place at a school are single events rather than mass events. In a single homicide event, the rifle is meaningless as the event has occurred before the rifle would be able to enter the equation. In fact, in order for the rifle to be meaningful, the event has to have sufficient duration that the responding officer can 1.) Recognize the event is occurring, 2.) Determine that the rifle is of more value than his existing sidearm, 3.) Get to the rifle (and potentially leave the children vulnerable) while the event is occurring, 4.) Safely return to the event and 5.) Safely stop the event. The number of preconditions necessary for the rifle to be of value preclude it's usefulness and render the existence of the rifle symbolic rather than tactical. To be clear, I have the utmost respect for the Safety Officers stationed in the schools, and it is not my intention to call into question their abilities, or discretion. Simply put, I do not think the presence of a rifle in the school would provide greater safety in the event of a shooting, as the events that would need to transpire for the weapon to be useful are specific, and limited.
Finally, the rifle is a poor symbol to associate with our schools. The presence of an assault rifle is, as I'm sure you have discovered, polarizing. Polarizing events are not generally good for fostering and maintaining a strong sense of community. Further, the negative exposure in the media portrays our community in a light that does not reflect the truth of our neighborhoods. This proposal has gained national media attention, being covered by most major local news syndicates on television and in print, as well as internet news sites like The Huffington Post, Police online, and many other media outlets. My experience is not that we live in a community plagued by violence or threats of violence, nor are we a community of fearful men and women. Portraying our community as such to those outside of Plainfield and to our children who receive the none-too-subtle message that our schools are unsafe and their classmates a danger, strikes me as grossly inaccurate. The repercussions of this news coverage are hard to predict—but please be aware that this national media attention will certainly affect our real estate values, the number of people willing to move to our community, and ultimately, this WILL affect our next school board elections. I am a registered voter, and I WILL be taking note of how this issue is handled and voted on, and I WILL be sure to vote out anyone supporting this proposal who seeks re-election.
It is for these reasons that I ask you to oppose the proposal to house a rifle in our public schools. The rifle guards against a threat which is factually extremely unlikely, does a bad job of guarding against these unlikely events, and sends a negative message to our community and about our community. Further, I will work to ensure the defeat of anyone who supports this proposal in the next school board election.
Thank you for your support.
A Concerned Citizen
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