Since a December 14 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 young children, debate has reached a fever pitch over stronger gun control laws and added security at schools.
State Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), a retired Greenville police officer, waded into the discussion in a recent interview with Greenwood affiliate WCRS. Pitts says the bill proposed by California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein that would ban the sale of more than 150 types of firearms and high-capacity magazines is too far-reaching and has no chance of passing.
“Being overly aggressive and bending and submitting to knee jerk over-reaction is going to get us nowhere,” Pitts told WCRS this week, “But there is solid dialogue in ways to get into it. One is background checks. I have no problem with background checks.”
A life member of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of South Carolina, Pitts agrees that it is time for some serious debate about gun control without resorting to knee jerk reactions like the bill proposed by Feinstein.
“If it becomes law, the .22 (caliber) repeating rifle that my grandfather left to me would become an illegal weapon and that’s ridiculous. So it’s going to have to be a debate that focuses on sensible solutions and not extremes on either side.”
On the subject of school security, Pitts says one solution is to severe limit the number of entrances into school buildings coupled with trained security on the outside.
“You make it a compound. Every school would be a compound; one way in, one way out. If you did that who would be more appropriate to put at the entrance than former military policemen. They are trained to perceive a threat and engage the threat very quickly. “
Pitts says another suggestion would be to adopt a program similar to the Sky Marshal program. A sky marshal is an undercover law enforcement or counter terrorist agent on board a commercial aircraft to counter aircraft hijackings. Pitts says you could have undercover officers in schools.
Pitts says someone who is armed needs to be stationed at a school, and that would include a school resource officer or a teacher with a concealed weapons permit. However, Pitts says teachers would have to go through extensive training before being allowed to be armed in the school setting.
“If you’re going to say that teachers can carry with a concealed permit, there needs to be more instruction than the concealed weapons permit course provides. I teach that course, that is a basic course, and teachers would have to be taught at a much higher level.”
Anne Eller of Greenwood affiliate WCRS contributed to this report