Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos said that a gun could be useful in a school if grizzly bears are a potential danger. She was laughed at. But did she deserve it?
When Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos said last week that some schools might want a gun available to deal with grizzly bears, she was roundly ridiculed. But her statement has a lot more common sense to it than the beltway media and urban elitists could really understand.
When questioned by Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT) on the place of guns in schools, DeVos replied, "I think that's best left to locales and states to decide."
Senator Murphy pushed DeVos, asking rhetorically, "You can't say today that guns shouldn't be in schools?" as though it was a foregone conclusion.
DeVos responded, "Well, I would refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies."
While the schools in the area have installed tall chain-link fences to ward off bears and cougars, grizzly attacks have risen in recent years. Hunters, tourists, hikers and others have had an increasing number of bear vs. human encounters, and grizzlies have killed six people in the Yellowstone National Park area since 2010.
The Corvallis Gazette-Times indicated that "Grizzlies in growing numbers roam a wide area around a tiny elementary school in Wapiti, Wyoming, 30 miles east of the park."
Also, Ray Schulte, superintendent for Park County School District No. 6 in Wyoming, indicated that it is against state law to allow guns in schools. But DeVos was of course only assuming that a gun might be present, given the presence of grizzly bears.
Her response was a sensible one. Guns have been used as a bear deterrent for quite a long time. These days bear spray is also a widely used deterrent. Where children are present, as in the two schools in Schulte's district that are in grizzly country, some form of deterrent seems only reasonable.
"There's a lot of bear out there. I talked to people who go out and see five and six in one day," Schulte said. "We had a guy in this part of the country working in a hay field and he got mauled."
The schools, Wapiti and Valley Elementary, are in isolated, mountainous regions, and Schulte confirmed that "grizzly bear ... travel through there."
Yet many on social media and even some in the press ridiculed DeVos for her statement. These people are indicative of the disconnect that permeates many large, urban centers, where people have become separated from nature and the wild.
The attitudes of those who live in rural areas, particularly isolated wilderness areas, often have a decidedly different point of view concerning wildlife and dangerous animals. Many of those rural people do, in fact, carry guns when in the wild.
It only makes sense to assume and even promote having the same pro-gun policy in schools that may be susceptible to dangerous creatures invading their space.
Senator Murphy also revealed his own gun-control advocacy by asking DeVoc a follow-up question: "If President Trump moves forward with his plan to ban gun free school zones, will you support that proposal." DeVos replied that she would support whatever the President decided.
Gun free zones are a huge gun crime attractor for criminals and terrorists, and Murphy's desire to see gun free zones continue, especially at schools, is a dangerous and failed approach to public safety.
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