Monday, March 28, 2005


I thought no-one would ever say the obvious!

All options should be considered to prevent rampages like the Minnesota school shooting that took 10 lives -- including making guns available to teachers, a top National Rifle Association leader said Friday.

"I'm not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students," the NRA's first vice president, Sandra S. Froman, told The Associated Press.

Gun-control restrictions would not have prevented Jeff Weise, 16, from killing nine people and himself Monday at Red Lake High School near Bemidji, Minn., said Froman, an attorney expected next month to be elected president of the NRA, which claims 4 million members.

The presence of an unarmed guard at the school failed to stop the siege, she noted.

"No gun law, no policy that you could implement now or that was already implemented, I think, could possibly prevent someone so intent on destruction," she said. "I think everything's on the table as far as looking at what we need to do to make our schools safe for our students."

Froman said if it is the responsibility of teachers to protect students in a school, "then we as a society, we as a community have to provide a way for the teachers to do that."

Froman cited the 1997 school shooting incident in Pearl, Miss., where a teacher retrieved a gun from his car when a student opened fire, then held the student at bay until police arrived.

A law prohibiting guns in schools "is not going to stop someone who has evil in their heart and who has the capacity to commit those crimes from doing them," Froman said.



Maine has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, but when it comes to violent crime, those guns are seldom put to use. Figures published this week by the Muskie Institute show that guns were involved in 92 of the 1,067 murders, robberies and aggravated assaults recorded by the state in 2003. That means just 8.6 percent of violent crimes involved firearms in Maine, the lowest rate for any state in the country. Gun control opponents say Maine is a clear example that the availability of guns does not lead to more crime. "The problem isn't the firearm. The problem lies in the criminal element," said John Hohenwater, a state liaison with the National Rifle Association. "How do you stop criminals from being criminals?"

Gun control supporters say the statistics don't capture the type of gun violence more prevalent in Maine. "We have a very different version of gun violence than most of the larger states. We don't have drive-bys and drug wars among gangs," said William Harwood, a founder of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence. If suicide and criminal threatening by abusive partners are included, the numbers are less encouraging, he said. "We lose 100 citizens every year in Maine to gun violence. That is very close to the national average of how many people die of gun violence across the country," he said.

In 2003, only North Dakota and Vermont recorded fewer than 92 violent crimes involving guns. Maine's 8.6 percent rate was one-third the national average and far below states like Mississippi and Georgia, where guns were used in 41 percent and 39 percent of violent crimes, according to numbers compiled by the Muskie Institute's Maine Statistical Analysis Center. U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby offered two possible factors contributing to the state's low rate of gun violence. "We don't have the density of population. As a result of that you don't have anonymity," she said......

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Oregon: Gun-toting store owner confronts burglar: "Robert Poage was relaxing at home Monday night when he heard an unusual sound coming from his adjacent convenience store. It was the clatter of coins hitting the floor. Poage went to investigate and found a burglar looting the cash register ... The burglar wore a ski mask and held a tire iron in one hand. He was stuffing money into his pockets. 'I opened the door and hollered at him,' Poage, 54, recounted Tuesday. 'He turned and ran.' Poage followed the burglar out the door and saw him climb into a green 1996 Pontiac Grand Am. Poage ordered him out, but the man started the engine. That's when Poage pulled out his .22-caliber handgun."

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