Other Voices: Guns in schools, promotion gone awry and bipartisanship in Pierre

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Farm Forum

Guns in school will not end violence

It’s certainly understandable that well-meaning adults would want to further protect schoolchildren in our state from the possibility of a horrific school shooting such as the one last year in Newtown, Conn.

But the South Dakota House’s passage of a sentinel bill to allow school districts to authorize volunteer armed employees perhaps creates as much opportunity for disaster as it does possible solutions to the potential for violence.

The bill isn’t about introducing guns in schools. That happened years ago with the school resource officer program. In schools where the officers work either full time or part time, they carry a gun and are trained to use it if needed.

In South Dakota’s sentinel legislation, volunteers among the school’s employees would receive some training and would agree to be armed while at school. Schools could decide whether they want to have sentinels on staff and would have to talk to and get approval from local law enforcement about the plan.

Schools certainly are expected to be a safe place for learning. But arming employees with minimal training is the wrong way to beef up security. Unless trained as law enforcement, a volunteer may well be able to accurately shoot at a target, but wouldn’t have the in-depth training and judgment that law enforcement personnel live by.

It’s silly to think that a minimally trained staff person could or would be able to defuse a school shooter. This sentinel answer simply seems to be a pro-gun response to a massive school shooting that has questioned our gun laws.

The idea also doesn’t address the very real potential of a staff member being overpowered and the gun getting into the hands of a student or anyone else with thoughts of causing harm. Nor does it seem to consider the anxiety children might feel if they know some of their teachers could be carrying guns.

If arming staff within schools is the answer to school safety, what happens when students go outside for recess or go home on a school bus? There isn’t a way to put a big enough bubble around children that would protect them from every potential danger.

Locking doors to the school, requiring guests to identify themselves before entering and other security efforts seem sensible and doable. The sentinel program aims to solve the potential for violence with further threats of violence, and that doesn’t seem to be a good or reasonable lesson at schools.

— Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Rush promotion went too far

Sometimes you can take a good idea one step too far, and it becomes a bad idea.

When the Rapid City Rush hockey club held a college night promotion for the Jan. 18 game against the Missouri Mavericks, the club offered college students two tickets for the price of one seat. Good idea.

During intermission, a two-person team of students from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology was pitted against a team from Black Hills State University in a relay event called the ‘‘College Olympics.’’ Good idea.

During the relay that included running on the ice, riding on a cooler and spinning around a hockey stick, the male students chugged four beers. Bad idea.

And not because both of the students vomited on the ice.

It was a bad idea because it sends the wrong message about responsible consumption of alcohol and it was at a public venue.

Anyone who has attended college is familiar with drinking games. Usually, these take place at a private residence or business where alcohol is served. Holding a drinking game at a public venue like the Rushmore Plaza Ice Arena in front of spectators is a bad idea. Those in attendance at the game, which included children, were there to see a hockey game, not a contest that included drinking alcohol.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming five drinks in a short period of time. Drinking four beers during the short period of time the Rush intermission contest took place is very close to the definition of binge drinking, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls ‘‘the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.’’ Binge drinking by students also has been called the most serious problem on many college campuses.

The Rush took the college night promotion one step too far.

Rush general manager Tim Hill apologized for the promotion gone awry and said it would not happen again. ‘‘It was meant to be fun, but it went completely wrong,’’ said Hill. ‘‘I apologize on behalf of the organization. Obviously it was in poor taste. The intermission game was not appropriate, and it’s just something we will never do again.’’

The Rush should be praised for issuing an apology. Hockey fans want to see a puck, not puke, on the ice.

— Rapid City Journal

Bipartisanship seen in justice system overhaul

How refreshing to see Gov. Dennis Daugaard, his Republican colleagues and the Democrats all working together to get things done for South Dakota. They seem to have found an issue on which there is common ground — the need to reform our justice system and save money by treating more nonviolent offenders with other means short of prison.

The House of Representatives voted 63-7 in favor of the plan, which had already passed the Senate by a similar majority of 31-2. The measure grew out of recommendations made by a panel appointed by the governor, Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson and legislative leaders.

Estimates are the bill will save perhaps $162 million over the next decade by helping South Dakota avoid having to build new prison facilities.

Everyone likes to save money. But the real savings here is in human potential. Why send a nonviolent offender to prison? Locking him up does not keep anyone safe; it may actually make him more of an offender than he was before. It may be that closely supervised probation and parole and expanded courts to deal with drug and alcohol offenses are indeed the better solutions, as proponents of this bill believe.

At least our lawmakers of both parties seem to agree that we need to give it a try.

— Pierre Capital Journal