NBC Nightly News Spins ‘Thought-Provoking’ Piece on Teachers With Guns Story As Big Risk

On Monday night’s NBC Nightly News, the program took a look at how Utah is now allowing teachers to obtain concealed carry permits to have firearms in their schools after training and continually passing background checks. As the media have done countless times (examples can be found herehere, and here), they found a way to turn it into coming across as a bad thing and advance the gun control agenda.

NBC News senior legal and investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden interviewed special education teacher Casey Hanson and seemed intrigued by her decision to purchase a pistol “to defend my students” after being shaken by the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

After telling how, each morning, Hanson packs a pink “loaded .380 semiautomatic pistol” along with “her schools supplies,” McFadden asked her just “[w]hat can your little, bitty, pink gun do?”

To that, Hanson simply said that “[i]t can definitely surprise” any would-be gunman and allow her to “stop them” herself.

Supporting the stance that guns should not be responsibly allowed in schools was a soundbite from the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Josh Horwitz: “Bringing a firearm into the school by someone whose untrained and unprepared for a violent situation like that can only increase the risk to their students every single day.”

Also, McFadden made mention that a teacher in Hanson’s school district accidently fired a weapon in a restroom days after McFadden was in Utah to file the story. 

In the introduction to the segment, anchor Brian Williams cited that the law in Utah allows teachers to have guns “for protection, but the students and the parents aren't aware, nor is the principal.” He also said that even though 64 percent of Utahns support the law, but made sure to counter that “the numbers and attitudes widely vary across this country.”

After McFadden’s report, she told Williams back in New York that 68 percent of teachers nationally oppose being allowed to arm and defend themselves and their students and lamented that “yet, since Sandy Hook, a dozen states have passed laws allowing adults to carry firearms in schools, adding to laws already on the books in many other states.”

Williams responded that the story was “thought-provoking” and encouraged viewers to express their opinion on the issue and the story on the program’s Facebook page as there will be follow-up story that will include viewer responses.

The transcripts of both the tease and segment on September 22's NBC Nightly News are transcribed below.

NBC Nightly News
September 22, 2014
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]


BRIAN WILLIAMS: Teachers with guns, loaded weapons in the classroom. It's legal in a lot of places, even if the students and their parents don't know. 


7:12 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

WILLIAMS: Still ahead for us tonight, armed in the classroom. The teacher whose about to reveal a big secret on this broadcast to students and parents and the principal who did not know before now.


7:15 p.m. Eastern


WILLIAMS: Back now with a story from Utah. It's about guns in school as a defensive weapon, specifically a teacher who brings a loaded gun with her to class every day. It's legal and for protection, but the students and the parents aren't aware, nor is the principal. That will change of course when they see this tonight. A recent poll found a clear majority of the people in Utah, 64%, support teachers having concealed weapons in school, but the numbers and attitudes widely vary across this country. We get our report tonight from NBC's Cynthia McFadden in Murray, Utah.

CLARK APOSHIAN: And command –

CASEY HANSON: Stop, drop your weapon, don't shoot! [FIRES GUN]

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: 27-year-old special education teacher Casey Hanson can hit a target at nine feet with 90% accuracy. 

HANSON: I never grew up in a family where we had guns. No, that's not me. 

MCFADDEN: That changed after the death of 26 innocent at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

HANSON: You know, as a teacher, I took it personal. 

MCFADDEN: And she resolved that would never happen in her classroom. 

HANSON: I took a concealed carry class. I thought this is it. I got to do it. 

MCFADDEN: Casey’s home state of Utah has some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, allowing school employees with just a few hours of training, to carry a concealed weapon to school, though state databases are checked daily to make sure people carrying those weapons aren't in trouble with the law. Now, each morning, as she packs her school supplies, Casey also packs heat, a loaded .380 semiautomatic pistol. She affectionately calls the pink gun Lucy. She says it never leaves her side. 

HANSON: If a bad guy comes in, I'm not going to go running after him, but if he comes in my – in my classroom, I'm going to take charge and I'm going to defend my students. 

MCFADDEN: What can your little, bitty, pink gun do? 

HANSON: It can definitely surprise them and stop them. 

MCFADDEN: Clark Aposhian is Casey's instructor and a gun lobbyist. 

APOSHIAN:  Almost without exception we see that the carnage, the death has stopped by the time the police get there or it always ends with the very first person, very first good guy, that shows up with a gun. 

MCFADDEN: But not everyone agrees. 

JOSH HORWITZ, COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: Bringing a firearm into the school by someone whose untrained and unprepared for a violent situation like that can only increase the risk to their students every single day. 

HANSON: Stop! Drop your weapon! [FIRES GUN]

MCFADDEN: I see your hand shaking as you were about to do it. 


MCFADDEN: I mean, is that just nerves? 

HANSON: A little bit. 

MCFADDEN: Even though it’s piece of paper up here. 

HANSON: Yeah. 

MCFADDEN: There's a lot of adrenaline. 

HANSON: A lot of adrenaline, yeah. 

APOSHIAN: [TO MCFADDEN] And this hand is just going to accompany it.

MCFADDEN: When it's my turn – 

APOSHIAN: And command – 

MCFADDEN: Stop! [FIRES GUN] – I see what she means. That was terrifying to be honest with you. Your heart's racing. 

APOSHIAN: Good. That's exactly what you want. 

MCFADDEN: Aposhian was quick to point to Utah's stellar safety record in schools, but three days after our visit, in Casey's own district, an elementary schoolteacher injured herself after her gun went off accidentally in a faculty restroom. The incident took some by surprise because Utah is among the states that don't require teachers to tell anyone they are armed. Did you tell the principal or the other teachers that you were carrying a gun? 

HANSON: I did not. 

MCFADDEN: What about parents? They don't know? 

HANSON: Right. They don't know. 

MCFADDEN: They're going to know now. 


MCFADDEN: Are you worried a little bit? 

HANSON: I am. I am worried, but I hope they see that I'm a responsible teacher. I want what's best for the children. 

MCFADDEN: It's worth noting, Brian, that nationally, the vast majority of teachers polled, 68%, oppose arming school employees and yet, since Sandy Hook, a dozen states have passed laws allowing adults to carry firearms in schools, adding to laws already on the books in many other states. 

WILLIAMS: Cynthia McFadden, thanks. Thought-provoking story and we wanted to let you know you can let us know what you think on our Facebook page. We'll be incorporating viewer comments in our follow-up report on this subject. 

— Curtis Houck is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Curtis Houck on Twitter.