Saturday, March 8, 2014
A couple of gun control advocates have made some follow-up points to Friday's story about Rep. Brian Duprey's bill to allow concealed firearm permit holders to bring their guns to public schools.
First, one took issue with a quote from Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, that Wyatt Earp may have been ok with guns in Tombstone, but that didn't necessarily mean that guns in schools were a good idea.
As one gun control advocate noted, Earp was actually a proponent of gun control. The famous shooting near the Ok Corral ignited after a few scofflaws had violated a town ordinance that barred people from carrying firearms in public.
From the Los Angeles Times:
"In fact, the American West's most infamous gun battle erupted when the marshal tried to enforce a local ordinance that barred carrying firearms in public. A judge had fined one of the victims $25 earlier that day for packing a pistol.
'You could wear your gun into town, but you had to check it at the sheriff's office or the Grand Hotel, and you couldn't pick it up again until you were leaving town,' said Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of True West Magazine, which celebrates the Old West. 'It was an effort to control the violence.'
Second -- and this point has been made numerous times in the national media -- has more to do with the National Rifle Association's proposal to station armed security guards at school, but can be connected to Duprey's proposal: The 1999 killings at Columbine High School happened in spite of an armed sheriff's deputy, a 15-year veteran of the force.
Harris and Klebold knew about Deputy Neil Gardner, who would often eat lunch with the students. In fact, the gunmen exchanged fire several times with Gardner. According to the Jefferson County transcript of the shootings, Garnder at one point fired four shots at Harris from a distance of about 60 yards. However, Gardner was outgunned. Harris had a shotgun and two semiautomatic rifles.
From the transcript:
Gardner, seeing Harris working with his gun, leaned over the top of the car and fired four shots. He was 60 yards from the gunman. Harris spun hard to the right and Gardner momentarily thought he had hit him. Seconds later, Harris began shooting again at the deputy.
After the exchange of gunfire, Harris ran back into the building. Gardner was able to get on the police radio and called for assistance from other Sheriff’s units. “Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me.”
* * *
Behind him and to his right, (Deputy Paul) Smoker caught a glimpse of Gardner in the south parking lot. Gardner had his weapon drawn.
“There he is!!!” Gardner yelled to Smoker as a young man, carrying a semi-automatic rifle, appeared on the inside of the double doors.
Gardner started shooting. Smoker couldn’t see who Gardner was shooting at. A half-fence and a dumpster now blocked his view of the area where gunshots could be heard. He moved further out into the open so that the west side doors came into view. A gunman with a rifle was leaning out of a broken window, using the doorframe as cover, and shooting his weapon toward students and law enforcement.
Smoker shot three rounds before the gunman disappeared from the window. He could hear gunfire continuing in the building, but nothing from outside. More and more students came running from the building and sought the protection of the deputies and the patrol cars.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.