Ban all guns? Didn’t we already do that in 1994? I seem to remember a federal law not only requiring schools to be gun-free zones but mandating minimum punishments for students that violate the ban. The penalties for adults are already fairly tough.
Doesn’t seem to be working all that well.
Or maybe you’re thinking we’ll ban all guns from the U.S. No nation on the planet has ever successfully banned guns and made it stick. Not one. Not ever.
As for the utility of guns, there’s really not much I can say. I’ve been a gun owner for nearly 50 years and I have found hunting and target shooting to be quite enjoyable. There have also been times that I have been glad I had a gun for less pleasant reasons. But then, I am not a musician or a graduate in religion and philosophy, though I have studied both.
But you need to understand something: I am not now and never have been in favor of armed teachers.
I remember a few years back when Cynthia McFadden interviewed a teacher who was authorized to carry a gun on campus. I was reminded of Jeff Cooper’s famous saying: “Just because you have a gun doesn’t make you armed any more than having a guitar makes you a musician.”
If there was a mistake possible, that teacher made it. Her shooting skills were positively depressing. I actually cringed at a few points.
McFadden was, of course, both clueless and impressed.
But that teacher had paid for everything herself. The gun, the permit, what training she had received — all on her dime. Like virtually all armed teachers, she didn’t get a penny extra from the school district.
But she was willing to put herself in harm’s way to protect her kids.
That made me angry. She deserved better; her kids deserved better.
A full-time police officer costs about $149,000 per year. A lot of schools simply can’t afford that. A lot of police departments and county sheriff’s offices can’t afford extra officers to cover the schools. The U.S. would have to increase the total number of sworn law enforcement officers by about 19% and pay out more than $11 billion each year to pay for them.
But there’s got to be somewhere between that and freebie. We have to actually pay more than lip service. Not just for teacher firearms training, either. Law enforcement agencies, school districts and the Departments of Education and Justice really need to come up with a consistent plan of best practices to provide layers of protection.
But just as important as secured entrances, metal detectors or any of the other strategies, we need to hold school administrators and and the heads of law enforcement agencies accountable.
If the administration and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would have done what they were supposed to do, as little as it was, Nikolas Cruz would have found it much more difficult to carry out his plan. If Deputy Scot Peterson would have done what he was supposed to do, the body count would have been lower.
In a recent interview, Pinellas County Sheriff Rick Gualtieri, who chaired the commission investigating the Parkland shooting, said he was stunned when the members revisited Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Nothing had changed in the nine months since the shooting. Even measures that would have had no cost or impact on budgets hadn’t been implemented.
The gun laws enacted after the Parkland shooting may very well be repealed in this session of the Florida legislature; a bill has already been filed. What has happened is legislation requiring armed defenders in every Florida school has become law.
We need to take these steps because we need to assure our children that we are willing to do everything we can to make sure they are safe. We’ve been scaring the heck out of them for years when the truth is that they are safer in school than they are in their own homes.
Although it didn’t get much attention, a school shooting was actually prevented last year. Not by gun-free zones, not by background checks, not by gun bans: by a mother who got suspicious and called the school to warn them that her son might be bringing a gun to school. Unlike what happened in Parkland, the school took the warning seriously, locked down the school and called police. By the time the youth reached the school, local and state police officers were waiting for him. He was a very determined young man. He fired at police and tried to escape into the school. Frustrated by the fact the doors were locked, he shot out a window and got in the door, where more police were waiting. Sadly, he took his own life. And I do mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say sadly. I can’t even imagine how the mother felt; she did the right thing but lost her son, right before Christmas.
Quit obsessing about guns. Just today, in the area where I live, a student was caught with a saw blade and a list of names. Never forget that the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history wasn’t carried out with a gun. Andrew Kehoe killed almost as many children as Adam Lanza and Nikolas Cruz combined in Bath, Michigan in 1927. Also remember that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold didn’t want to shoot up Columbine High School. They built propane bombs to collapse the cafeteria roof at lunchtime.