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MA Firearm Instructors: Protect Schools With Guns, Legalize Assault Rifles

Friday, January 04, 2013

 

Basic firearms instructors in Massachusetts are overwhelmingly in favor of placing armed guards or teachers in schools and the statewide legalization of assault rifles.

GoLocalWorcester asked 16 registered firearms instructors in Worcester County questions concerning gun safety and regulation. Respondents spoke on cartridge limits in magazines, assault rifle legality, the possibility of armed guards or teachers in schools and the role that mental health should play in the purchase of firearms.

Of the instructors polled, 87.5% reported they would like to see armed guards, teachers, or both in schools. In addition, 75% of the respondents said they were against the outlawing of assault rifles, as defined by the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, in Massachusetts.

To Arm or Not to Arm

In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 dead, head of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre called for the placement of armed guards in schools. He asserted that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Firearms instructors in Massachusetts seem to agree.

Of the respondents, 44% said they would like to see armed guards in schools, 19% would like to see armed teachers, and 25% said they would like to see both. However, all instructors who said they would like teachers to carry firearms stipulated that only if the teachers felt comfortable doing so and received adequate training.

“The way things are in the world today, a trained guard inside the school is probably needed,” said an East Brookfield instructor who asked not to be named. “We need to protect our most prized possessions, our kids. If the President and members of Congress have armed security, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools?”

Only two respondents said they would hesitate to place armed adults in schools.

“It would have to be a last resort,” said Dan George, registered in Sutton. “It would have to be something everyone agreed upon. Personally I’d like to see pro-active approaches rather than reactive.”

The Battle Over Assault Rifles

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

The majority of firearms instructors surveyed expressed disappointment in the term “assault rife” as defined by the Federal government, arguing that the term has become politicized.

“’Assault rifle’ is a bad term,” said Steven Tamburri, a Basic Firearms Instructor registered in Brookfield. “They shouldn’t be banned. As a sportsman, I like target shooting and there is a place for that with these guns. Some people shouldn’t have them, and keeping them out of the wrong hands should be properly looked into.”

Others expressed disappointment that law-abiding gun owners are being blamed for the action of a troubled few.

“They should be legal,” said Matthew Lichtenstein, an instructor registered in Leominster. “Assault weapons aren’t the bad guys here, it’s the people behind them that are the issue.”

Several instructors also pointed out that it’s unlikely for assault weapons to become legalized in Massachusetts due to the political climate.

Two respondents said they think assault rifles should remain illegal while another two said the question should be left for legislators and voters to decide.

Mental Health An Issue

Nearly all Massachusetts firearms instructors surveyed say mental health history needs to play a significant role in determining whether or not an individual is fit to carry a gun. Most agreed that states and towns need to do their due diligence in assessing one’s background and mental state before issuing a gun permit.

“Background checks are paramount,” said Michael Cravedi, registered in Sterling. “You should have to demonstrate ability and common sense to be given this privilege.”

But where to draw the line is a trickier issue. Alison Pickwick, of Clinton, says if people who seek mental health help are concerned about having their weapons taken, they may be reluctant to receive the treatment they need. Other situations, like soldiers returning from battle, also need to be considered.

“It’s a tough question,” said Joseph Warren, registered in Oxford. “Veterans come home with PTSD, should their rights to bear arms be taken away? Should we also take away their rights to vote? Mental health right now is too broad to define.”

The Trouble With Magazine Capacity

Massachusetts is one of six states that have banned large capacity ammunition magazines, outlawing all magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition. While 31% of firearms instructors said there should be no limit, 25% said they have no objections to the current limit.

Many respondents argued that individuals who are skilled with guns are able to change magazines extremely quickly, therefore making the number of cartridges per magazine less important. The answer, they say, lies elsewhere.

“If you ban a high capacity magazine, someone is going to buy whatever the highest capacity available is and you’re going to get the same results,” said Tamburri. “The more important thing to focus on is keeping guns out the wrong hands.”

Others echoed similar sentiments.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Warren. “If you’re proficient with the weapon, it really doesn’t matter. The real problem is that there are absolutely evil people out there.”

 

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