Debate: Are we safer with more gun restrictions or more trained Americans with guns?

01/23/2013 09:01 PM

There hasn’t been much middle ground in the debate over guns and school safety in the nearly six weeks since a gunman killed 20 first graders and six school staff in Newtown, Conn.

Limit the size of gun magazines? Or encourage more citizens to be trained to use guns?

Ban assault weapons? Or make sure teachers who have conceal-carry permits can bring guns to school?

Steve Challis, who spent 21 years as a British police officer and now runs Harmony Hollow Firearms Training in Montgomery County, has researched and written two books about gun violence in the United States. And he’s firmly in the camp that further restrictions on guns would do nothing to prevent tragedies like the Newtown shooting or the massacre at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July.

And State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, is among those lawmakers in Frankfort who want to see bans on the type of military-style assault weapons that can kill so many people so quickly.

They outlined the full spectrum of the current debate and even found one area of agreement during a panel discussion on Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics:

“I think finally Americans are waking up and saying ‘yes we respect hunters and fisherman and those kinds of activities, but do we really need something that can just wipe out a whole school?” Marzian asked (at 7:50 of the video above) to underscore her argument for an assault weapons ban.

Challis, who moved to the United States five years ago, said the argument over the 2nd Amendment becomes confused because, as he says, it had nothing to do with hunting or even a militia.

“The sole reason for the 2nd Amendment being written was to protect the U.S. citizens, among other things, against the tyranny of the government,” Challis said (at 9:15 of the video above).

In the second part of the discussion, the two debated specific proposals offered by President Barack Obama.

Challis said criminals aren’t likely to get the memo about the gun-free zones — or care. He said if someone like Adam Lanza, the accused killer in Newtown, is intent on attacking classrooms full of students, there should be someone within the school to defend it.

“If I was a parent at that school, I would like for at least one of those teachers to be able to stand up, pull their own weapon and stop this guy there and then. It may well be that teacher doesn’t make it, but at least it gives the kids a fighting chance,” Challis said (at 8:30 in video above).

Marzian said she would rather go after root causes, such as through legislation dealing with bullying and more resources for mental health.

“These are our kids. These are 5-year-olds going into school. Do they want to see an armed guard walking around with a gun? I don’t think so. We are not in Iran, we aren’t in Afghanistan, we are in the United States of America,” Marzian said (at 10:00.)

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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