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A tradition whose time has passed

SANTA FE, N.M. — Holding a gun show at a decommissioned public school property, as the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club has done for the past 17 years, may be a tradition whose time has passed.

A retired Los Alamos High School teacher – the 2004 New Mexico teacher of the year – has raised objections to the public school district’s practice of annually leasing a former junior-high gymnasium to the gun club. She says that in an era when schools are increasingly frequently the site of mass shootings, and when preventing students or others from bringing guns to school is an increasing problem, allowing a gun show on school-owned property is completely inappropriate.

It doesn’t matter that the gymnasium – and the adjacent classrooms – haven’t been used for educational purposes in 30 years, she adds.

School officials last week defended the gun-show lease, saying that they don’t discriminate when it comes to school leases, which serve community interests and bring revenue to the district.

Los Alamos National Laboratory leases space from the schools, too, the sportsmen’s club points out, and “some people may have a problem with that, too.”

The show has been held with no problems over the years and draws a good crowd. And the club members, by all accounts, are solid citizens who promote gun safety, shooting sports and the local high school ROTC unit.

In the last analysis, however, it’s the appalling increase in the number of school shootings in the last two-plus decades that should trump the school district’s arguments for non-discrimination and fairness.

A simple internet search reveals that while the first recorded school shooting in America may have occurred in 1760, and that such episodes have continued to occur throughout the country’s ensuing history, school killings have become both more numerous and more deadly from the 1990s through the present day.

The Sportsmen’s Club show takes place this weekend. But when and if the club requests a lease again next year, Los Alamos Public Schools officials should recognize the larger public context involved and send the club elsewhere.