Letter: Responding to ISD columnist’s take on the Nashville shooting


The right to bear arms is listed under the second constitutional amendment, but Deborah Stoner argues why schoools should consider upping their security measures.

Deborah Stoner

In a recent opinion piece for the Iowa State Daily, Caleb Weingarten wrote that “although guns are a right, they are also most definitely a privilege.” I write this letter in order to consider the ramifications of Weingarten’s response and offer an alternative to how to protect children in our schools.

The right to possess weapons clearly cannot both be a right and a privilege. In the case of guns, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Thus, guns are not a privilege that can be permitted or excluded from certain individuals. In fact, removing the ability to possess weapons often is tied to systemic oppression. The right to possess a gun is inextricably tied to the crucial right to defend oneself from the evils of the world.

In his piece, Weingarten blames Tennessee lawmakers for their failure to pass “red flag laws” as the main problem. The red flag bill proposed in the state Senate would have allowed family, friends or law enforcement to petition the court to prohibit individuals from purchasing or possessing a firearm. 

While this may seem reasonable, the law would have permitted judges to take away guns from victims, not potential criminals. In addition, such a system depends on someone reporting the would-be shooter to the court.

More importantly, the implementation of red flag laws is dangerous to the integrity of our constitutional republic. No group or authority should be able to restrict the rights of all citizens because of the evils of a few.

Our Constitution further addresses our rights in the Fifth Amendment; “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Seizing someone’s guns without due process is unconstitutional because one cannot be deprived of the right to property without due process, especially those property rights addressed in the Constitution. 

Thus, we come to an intriguing conundrum. If someone suffers from a mental illness, can we simply strip away their constitutional rights? What constitutes a mental illness, and who decides? A significant number of political figures and even some psychiatrists say transgenderism is a mental illness. Can we then take away the constitutional rights of this group of individuals? I say no. 

Then, in a world where guns cannot be taken away from citizens who may commit heinous crimes, how are we to protect ourselves, or in this case, our children? The answer is not that schools become gun-free zones. In fact, the campus was selected by the killer instead of a secondary location because the school contained less security. The best method to reduce the risk of criminals selecting our schools would be to make the schools difficult targets. 

Decreasing the target risk of schools can come in many different forms. First, designing buildings with automatically closing or locking doors and adding separation between large groups of students can help prevent easy access to students. Increasing the number of school resource officers, or even allowing teachers to be trained and armed, would clearly boost security. 

Finally, creating plans, systems and training in case of violent incidents can mentally and physically prepare students and teachers for a quick response. A combination of all the above methods and more would help lessen schools’ risk as a target. 

Red flag laws are dangerous in precedent and effect and may not be sufficient in stopping many shootings. Instead, we need to ensure schools are protected to the best of our abilities using common sense security measures.