March 25, 2005
National attention on the school massacre this week in Minnesota angers Scottsdale gun rights activist Alan Korwin.
He said media fascination with the school shooting diverts attention from a more important message that parents and students rarely hear: Firearms preserve peace and prevent crime far more often than the reverse.
"We know that children are poorly informed about gun safety," Korwin said. "They see nothing about the historical value of guns in preserving peace. That ought to be taught in school."
Korwin, who wrote the "Arizona Gunowner’s Guide" and oversees the Web site gunlaws.com, supports a bill working its way through the Legislature that would encourage public schools to teach a course on gun safety and the value of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The course, if approved, would also teach students how to handle and fire laser replicas of firearms.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department helped draft the bill, which cleared the Senate on Feb. 17 and is now awaiting consideration in the House.
Korwin said the Minnesota massacre, which left nine people dead along with the 16-year-old gunman, has no relevance to the Arizona bill.
"More people die falling down in their bathtubs each year than in shootings at school," Korwin said. "These events are extremely rare."
Statistics from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control support Korwin’s claim.
A 2001 study from the center — the most recent available — found that schoolassociated violent deaths represent less than 1 percent of all homicides and suicides among school-aged children. The study also found that school shootings declined from 1994 to 1999, despite heightened media coverage of these events.
"Our nation’s schools are among the safest place for children to be," said Bill Modzeleski, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools Program.
Meghan Wilkins, a 17-year-old junior at Tempe’s Marcos de Niza High School, said she and all of her friends feel safe at school. "I don’t think that would happen here at Marcos," she said. "It’s a pretty diverse school, and everybody talks with everybody."