Tim Schmidt: Support responsibly armed Americans, not more failed gun laws | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Schmidt: Support responsibly armed Americans, not more failed gun laws

Monroeville police Officer Sarah Skoog shows Karen Thornhill the proper way to hold and fire a gun during the Penn Hills and Monroeville Citizens Police Academy in May 2013.

All too often a murderous maniac opens fire on innocent, law-abiding Americans and forces us to take an honest look at what can be done to stop future attacks. It happened in Pittsburgh in October at the Tree of Life synagogue, claiming the lives of 11 innocent men and women.

It happened in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and teachers were murdered. In the aftermath of that tragedy, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission conducted a detailed examination of what happened and what could realistically be done to prevent it from happening again. One of its key recommendations was to allow teachers, who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training, to carry concealed firearms on campus.

Among those who endorsed this proposal was Andrew Pollock, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting. Pollock is now a member of the Florida Board of Education and has made clear that he’s not “pro-gun” or “anti-gun” but like many Americans, he supports allowing teachers and administrators to protect themselves and others. He correctly observed that the average school shooting takes just four minutes, which is not nearly enough time for law enforcement to respond and neutralize an attacker.

Sadly, this common-sense acknowledgement of a realistic way to help stop mass shootings by supporting more responsibly armed Americans has been ignored by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and anti-Second Amendment members of Pittsburgh City Council. Instead, they have pushed forward with unconstitutional legislation that could actually limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to arm themselves and potentially stop future shootings.

Regardless of each others’ views on the Second Amendment and what many Americans believe to be a God-given right to self-defense, we all are working toward a common goal of stopping future tragedies. And the reality is that government regulations that impede on Americans’ Second Amendment freedoms have proven useless in reducing gun violence.

In fact, evidence suggests regulations such as the ones passed last week by Pittsburgh City Council will actually lead to more mass shootings. Criminals often target places of worship and schools because they know that those inside are unarmed.

We will never know if things could have been different on that October day, but the fact is that law-abiding concealed-carry permit holders with the proper training are often able to prevent mass tragedies before they spin out of control and more lives are lost.

The U.S. Concealed Carry Association, which represents more than 300,000 American gun owners, will hold its Concealed Carry Expo May 17-19 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Designed to teach situational awareness and conflict avoidance, the expo will offer over 70 seminars on topics such as “countering the mass shooter threat,” “active shooter survival workshop” and “defending houses of worship.” We will also have seminars and exhibits devoted to women, who are among the fastest-growing group of concealed-carry Americans.

Although we all pray they will never need to use what they learn, we expect over 10,000 Americans who support the right to self-defense will be given the training and knowledge they need to protect themselves, their families and their fellow citizens in the event of another horrific shooting.

It is my hope that the mayor and City Council will join us at the expo to help find common ground on these critical issues and educate themselves on the critical role that responsibly armed Americans can play in strengthening public safety.

Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (usconcealedcarry.com).

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