Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

In a Single Day, Two Unintentional Shootings by Armed School Staff on Campus

A core plank of the response by President Donald Trump and other NRA-aligned Republicans to the Parkland shooting has been pushing for more armed school employees, who could deter or respond to attackers with lethal force of their own.

Of course, some states and school districts already employ armed security or allow staff to carry guns. Just yesterday, two separate accidental shootings demonstrated the risks presented by making guns a routine part of school life.

A little after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, a resource officer in Alexandria, Virginia, was sitting in his office at George Washington Middle School when he fired his service weapon without meaning to. Police did not disclose whether the officer, a five-year police veteran, had taken the gun out of its holster. No one was injured. Classes were not interrupted.

Hours later in Seaside, California, Dennis Alexander, a high school math teacher who also works as a reserve police officer, took out his gun during class to demonstrate firearm safety.

Alexander pointed the weapon at the classroom ceiling and accidentally fired. Debris struck one student who sustained non-life threatening injuries. Alexander has been placed on administrative leave.

President Trump explained in tweets that when he called for guns in schools, he did not want to arm any and all teachers or administrators, only “highly trained, gun adept teachers/coaches.”

But as Tuesday’s incidents show, even people with extensive experience handling guns can commit unintentional shootings, which occur nearly every four hours in America, according to tallies maintained by the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

One of the 2,023 accidental gun discharges recorded by GVA in 2017 involved a National Rifle Association staffer who suffered a minor injury to his lower body during a training session at the gun range at the organization’s Virginia headquarters.

“We’re talking about arming teachers, and even the security personnel that are trained can’t seem to make it work,” one parent of a George Washington Middle school student told News4 Washington.