The Legislature's leading gun-rights activist may not be in the majority next year, but he plans on making waves.
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said Monday he will propose arming teachers so they can stop school assaults like that in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. He knows his idea won't get far in next year's DFL-controlled Legislature, but he wants his point of view discussed.
"They can talk about all the gun control laws they want to, but nothing really in the laws that have been passed will stop a guy like this," Cornish said. "The only thing that will stop it is a bullet."
Cornish said he would allow teachers to volunteer to carry loaded weapons in their school rooms, after undergoing stepped-up training on how to deal with Connecticut-style assaults.
His idea follows the gun-rights concept of fighting gun-violence with freer access to guns. He said in these cases, the damage has already been done before the police get there, even when they arrive instantly, as was the case in Newtown.
"What I'm proposing is somebody that's already there," he said.
He added that the Connecticut assailant knew the school was a "gun-free zone" and there would be "nothing meeting him in the form of resistance." He added, "If he would have thought that the teachers would be armed ... this person would have been very wary of being shot. He probably would not even think about it."
Heather Martens, head of Protect Minnesota, a gun-control organization, said Cornish's idea is "nuts." She said it is based on a "fantasy" of gun-rights activists that such carnage can be stopped by having more guns on the scene.
She noted that the assailant's mother herself accumulated weaponry under the theory of self-protection, and then became the first victim of her son's rampage.
"She was an accomplished shooter and gun collector," Martens said of the mother, Nancy Lanza of Newtown."She was at home where all of her guns were ... She was the first person shot to death.... If the theory works at all, you would think it would work for her."
She added, "It doesn't work. There's no instance of that kind of saving-the-day happening in a mass shooting."
Martens said in such instances, a teacher's job is to lock the door and protect the children, not to go out in search of the shooter. And she said in this case, the teachers would have had to have assault rifles to match the shooter's firepower.
She said her group would propose changes that would make it harder for people with mental health issues to obtain weapons permits, and would close the loopholes in private gun sales.
"The difference between our solutions and those kinds of solutions," she said, referring to Cornish, "is we believe in preventing the dangerous person from getting the gun in the first place."