John Krull commentary: What students ‘really’ need, lawmakers think

It’s a good thing Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, and other gun devotees in the Indiana General Assembly aren’t in charge of fire safety at state schools.

If they were, their “solution” to classrooms set ablaze would be to make sure that every teacher had a can of gasoline and plenty of kindling at hand.

Because the answer to any problem in Jim Lucas’ world is to provide more of the ingredients that created the problem in the first place.

That’s why Lucas has authored a bill that would create a handgun training program for Hoosier teachers. He sees that as the way to prevent school shootings.


It’s hard to know just where to start with logic this warped.

Lucas’ premise always is that the more guns there are around, the safer we all are. No amount of contrary evidence will encourage him to reconsider. His mind is made up, as firmly set as a block on concrete.

The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population and more than 50 percent of the world’s privately owned firearms. If Lucas’ thinking had any validity, we should be living in the safest nation on earth.

Instead, we Americans are 2000 percent—20 times—more likely to die in a gun-related death than someone living elsewhere in the industrialized world.

If you point that out to Lucas, though, he will start yammering on about how gun-free zones or gun laws don’t work—citing no independently vetted evidence to support his argument—and do his best to change the subject.

He will do so even if you cite the mountains of studies that demonstrate that a gun is 40 times more likely to be used to harm a family member, friend, acquaintance or oneself than it is to be used to defend against or deter an attacker.

That’s not surprising.

Lucas’ idea of doing “research” is to wander the internet on the hunt for memes—many of them racist or sexist or xenophobic—that articulate his point of view but contain no firm data. When he and his brethren cite anything resembling actual evidence to support their positions, what they offer has been carefully cherry-picked to do so.

The notion that they should consider all the facts and then arrive at a thesis based on their examination of the facts is abhorrent to them. They know what they know, regardless of whether what they “know” has any basis in reality or not. Their immunity to scientific method is absolute.

Thus, placing more guns in a nation that already is overflowing with firearms and gun-related deaths and injuries makes sense to Lucas and people who think like him. Because their eyes and minds are closed to facts that undercut their prejudices in favor of firearms, they can maintain their fantasy that having guns anywhere and everywhere—including our classrooms—just can’t be a problem.

Then there’s also the question of priorities.

Just before this legislative session started, the Indiana State Teachers Association—ISTA—noted a huge teacher shortage here in Hoosier land. More than 1,500 teaching jobs are unfilled. This leaves more than 35,000 Indiana students without teachers or studying in classrooms with severely overburdened teachers.

That tracked with the Indiana Department of Education’s numbers. DOE said more than 2,800 education jobs in Indiana were vacant.

Solving that problem would seem to be job one when it comes to education.

But that’s not necessarily the case for Jim Lucas and other legislators who think like him. Because they see guns as the cure for everything that ails us—and certainly not a part of any ailment—making sure that teachers can carry firearms into classrooms is really, really important.

Having enough teachers in Indiana classrooms?

That’s not nearly as crucial for Jim Lucas and friends.

In their world, the guns matter.

The students, less so.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College.

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