In the aftermath of the Newton, Connecticut murders, there is, it seems, far too little rational thought, and far too much emotionalism. Congressional Democrats are desperate to pass draconian gun and accessory ban legislation while people are still sick at heart at this latest manifestation of abject evil. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even coined a new—and completely nonsensical—term: “assault magazines,” to describe any magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. I suppose “assault ammunition,” and “double secret assault weapons” are next.
This is to be expected. Progressives can never be satisfied in any of their desires to restrict liberty and to control the lives of others. If a given Progressive policy is an obvious failure, that can never be because it made no sense and was doomed to failure from the outset. On the contrary, any Progressive policy—such as an “assault weapon” ban, an “assault magazines” ban, closing the “gun show loophole,” etc.—that appears to be a failure actually isn’t.
One might point to the decade that the gun and magazine ban were in full effect and the indisputable fact that they—and the rest of the provisions of the Clinton gun ban—accomplished nothing at all for public safety. One might note that Columbine occurred during the run of that foolish law. One might further note that there is no such thing as a “gun-show loophole,” that what Progressives seek to outlaw is actually consensual sales of firearms among adults, even family members, without federal intrusion and approval. And one might go so far as to note that there is little or no evidence criminals buy guns at gun shows, thus exploiting the nonexistent loophole—quite the opposite.
No, none of this can be evidence of the failure of Progressive policy, because Progressives—morally and intellectually superior beings that they are—are incapable of error. What is actually happening is that the involved Progressive policies simply haven’t had enough time to work their wonders. A mere decade? A drop in the temporal bucket. And if that’s not enough, the apparent failure must be attributed to the fact that an insufficient amount of the policy in question has been applied, or it has not been applied with sufficient ferocity.
Lo and behold, Senator Diane Feinstein—who, by the way, has one of the very few concealed carry permits allowed by California authorities (her life is worth far more than the God and gun clingers in flyover country, or California, for that matter)—plans to introduce a bill that will improve on the Clinton law by banning just about every semiautomatic rifle or anything looking like one, known to man.
On 12-21-12—the day the world was supposed to end—Wayne LaPierre of the NRA argued for something that would not destroy liberty and infringe on a fundamental American right, but would be entirely impractical:
I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that wants to federalize entrance examinations for the teaching profession with education unions in charge responded, accusing LaPierre’s proposal of being:
irresponsible and dangerous’ and accused the group of not seriously addressing gun violence.
‘Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses,’ she said in a statement.
Other progressives, in Congress and out, were similarly dismissive, no doubt because LaPierre’s proposal would not damage the Second Amendment and empower—maybe–Federal bureaucrats and politicians.
There are, however, other reasons to think LaPierre’s solution ill-considered and unworkable:
(1) It’s simply too expensive. Estimates for placing at least one armed police officer in each of the 100,000 and more schools in America would cost five billion and more a year. Single officers would not be sufficient, as replacements would be necessary for officers who take vacation, are sick, are in court, have to transport people to jail, etc. In addition, schools are not open only during normal business hours. To place an officer in a school, at football games, at plays, and the myriad other activities when and where schools are open would take multiple security officers, greatly increasing costs.
And who would hire and pay these officers? Local law enforcement agencies are facing hard times at the best of times and most are woefully understaffed. They simply can’t afford to hire multiple officers for the schools in their communities. In many cases, they’d be doubling—and more—their annual budgets, which is plainly impossible. School districts are in no better financial shape.
(2) It’s training overkill. The plan is essentially an effort to place a single firearm in each school to counter armed attackers. Police officers undergo extensive and expensive training—firearms proficiency is only a small part—because of the wide range of tasks they must accomplish. The abilities necessary to successfully confront and accurately shoot an attacker to stop their attack, hopefully before it takes a single life—are far less time-consuming to teach and maintain. Armed citizens, particularly concealed carry licensees, do it successfully every day.
(3) Some schools do have police officers, but not as people think. They’re commonly called “liaison officers,” or “school resource officers.” However, considering the sheer number of schools, they’re uncommon, most full-time officers being assigned only to larger high schools. More commonly patrol officers “adopt” a number of schools and try to stop by once a week or so, which is more or less a public relations ploy. Even officers primarily stationed in high schools have daily duties that have little to do with guarding the premises or being omnipresently available to attack school shooters.
(4) It’s tempting to the Federal Leviathan. LaPierre called for federal funding to implement his proposal. And where, pray tell, will the brokest nation in world history come up with this funding, and what could possibly go wrong? It takes little effort to imagine a TSA-like bureau of Federal School Police, adding not tens of billions, but hundreds of billions to the deficit, and doing their jobs with the tact, professionalism and stunning ability of the TSA, famous for all but raping little girls and strip searching crippled, elderly women in wheelchairs.
If Mr. LaPierre wants to support teachers, protect them and their charges, and actually save lives, he’ll support concealed carry by teachers and other school staff. Teachers are already present, not only during normal school hours, but at every school related event.
By requiring teachers to be concealed carry licensees on their own dime, the cost to schools will be negligible. By publicizing the fact that the schools do have armed teachers and other staff, but purposely saying nothing about where, how many, or their identities, a powerful deterrent is established, even for schools that have no one carrying. But in reality, the more armed adults able to resist armed attackers, the better.
We are not talking about a matter of philosophy. We are not arguing “sending messages,” or quibbling about the way things ought to be. We are talking about how, at the time and place an armed killer enters a school intent on mass murder, best to immediately stop that killer. All else, particularly gun and magazine bans are like trying to stop traffic accidents by banning some makes and models of cars and by limiting horsepower.
Only those present and armed when and where an attack begins can stop a shooter, and the more of them, the more likely the attacker will be stopped. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the school was equipped with a remotely opened door system, but the door—like virtually all such doors and systems installed in schools—was not hardened with ballistic glass or Lexan windows. The killer simply shot his way though the glass in a matter of seconds. Had the principal or office staff been armed, they could actually have ended the attack then and there before anyone was hurt. Return gunfire might well have put the killer to flight even if he was not immediately stopped. Instead, a brave female principal was forced to rush the killer empty handed, with predictably tragic results.
Progressives have already rejected this sole, effective, and inexpensive solution out of hand. It does nothing to destroy liberty or increase their power, and their other nonsensical and even dangerous proposals haven’t been imposed with sufficient fervor or for a sufficiently long time. The head of the NRA should know better. By arguing around what he surely knows is the only policy that demonstrably can and will save lives, he plays into the hands of those who would destroy everything he, the NRA, and law abiding Americans cherish most, particularly, the right to self defense.
Without that right, without the actual ability to protect the lives of children at the moment their lives need protection, what other right truly matters?