The debate around gun control requires a cool, objective look at the risks involved with placing more guns around children. It is an inherently emotional debate that often equates freedom with gun ownership, but what kind of freedom? This remains unclear. Nina Simone once described freedom as living without fear and is precisely what students, parents, teachers and citizens alike have a right to.
The debate actually requires fact-based objectivity, something notably absent in this article.
The late Ms. Simone, while certainly notable for her music and political activism, is a questionable authority in this discussion.
Nobody has a “right” to a life without fear. Sound harsh? So what? Put on your grown-up undies and deal with it.
Anyone who ever told anyone else that life is sanitized for their protection was lying through their teeth.
In the Declaration of Independence, the creators of the United States said that all men are endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, the reason for the Declaration of Independence was the violation of those rights by the British government. For this reason, the colonists took up arms to resist those violations and were successful in defeating tyranny.
The Founding Fathers of the United States realized that many would seek to deprive others of their rights and so enshrined the right to defend oneself against the bad guys. This includes single bad guys as well as armies of bad guys.
In the words of a sign that once stood at the Texas state border, “If you try to kill us, we’ll kill you back.”
In the entire history of American law and jurisprudence, almost without exception, the right to keep and bear arms always has been interpreted to refer to an individual right. Parsing the amendment either grammatically or legally shows that the militia is dependent on the people themselves being armed. The Founding Fathers were very clear on this. Even James Madison, who some cite as supporting a collectivist interpretation, wrote that the right was an individual right.
Actually reading the opinion penned by the late Antonin Scalia in the Heller ruling will reveal the depth of precedent upon which Scalia relied. The opinion also dissects the dissent of Justice John Paul Stevens and highlights the flaws contained.
The Second Amendment does not grant a right or even confirm one. It is a prohibition that forbids the federal government (and through the Fourteenth Amendment, the state governments) from infringing on a right, much in the same way that the First Amendment forbids Congress from enacting legislation limiting freedom of speech, press and practice of religion.
The Founding Fathers saw the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, the community and the nation as a natural right that existed independently not only of the constitution, but of the government.
Moreover, the Founding Fathers meant for a militia to defend the nation, not the government. The “state” contained in the prefatory clause of the Second Amendment refers to the republic of the United States of America, not whatever bunch of bozos happen to be in Washington, D.C. This is why military personnel swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Constitution takes precedence over any orders from our elected representatives.
Having cleared that up, let’s move on.
Since there never has been a federal requirement for a permit to carry or a waiting period for firearms purchases, it’s a bit difficult to see how the NRA cooperated with creating one.
There have been state restrictions, most often enacted to restrict access to firearms by certain racial or ethnic groups (blacks in the South, Chinese in California), something that was also true of the Mulford Act of 1967. The act, written by Don Mulford a conservative from the San Francisco area, was quickly written and passed following a Black Panther demonstration in which armed members of the movement marched into the California capitol building and the legislative chambers of the California Assembly. Incidentally, the purpose of the demonstration was to show that if the California Assembly would not rein in police brutality, the black community would organize its own police force.
Ronald Reagan, who was the governor at the time, later said that he regretted signing the bill.
There was no Gun Control Act of 1938. The was a Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and a Gun Control Act of 1968 but the latter legislation superseded and replaced the prior law as well as the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The citation of the Kenyon Ballew case is interesting for two reasons. First, why wouldn’t the NRA condemn an obviously bungled investigation, exculpatory evidence that was ignored and a blatant disregard for the service required for the warrant? After all, it resulted in a crippling injury to a person against whom no criminal charges could be sustained? The NRA also condemned the government’s actions at Ruby Ridge, sparking an exchange with then-President George H.W. Bush, who resigned is membership in the association after it charged that government agents acted like “jack-booted thugs.”
The NRA’s participation in drafting the Gun Control Act of 1968 was at least partly a damage control effort. The proponents of the law had wanted far-reaching legislation that had no precedent in American law and politicians and celebrities, including Charlton Heston, who would later be the president of the NRA, who called for gun control on the Joey Bishop Show in 1968.
This the same Charlton Heston who told presidential candidate Al Gore that the government could have Heston’s guns when it pried them from his cold, dead hands.
The NRA’s increasing militancy has risen largely from attacks on it and the American right to keep and bear arms. Unlike some more radical groups, such as the Gun Owners of America, which claims 1.2 million members, the NRA has not and does not oppose reasonable restrictions, including prohibitions on firearm possession by people who shouldn’t have them. Where the NRA varies from those propose measures like “red flag” laws is it’s position on teh Fifth Amendment, which requires due process before a citizen can be stripped of the rights addressed in the Bill of Rights.
The NRA also opposes legislation that restricts the citizen’s exercise of the right protected by the Second Amendment but does not produce a significant benefit to public safety. After all, what reasonable person wouldn’t oppose useless legislation?
For some reason, people who seek to frighten us with bloody scenarios of armed teachers either don’t know, overlook, ignore or actively suppress the fact that armed teachers and school staff isn’t something that might happen; it already has happened.
Texas has had armed teachers in public schools since 2007. The first school district to establish a program did so in response to the Virginia Tech massacre. Texas public schools have the option to have district police forces, contract with law enforcement agencies, allow armed staff or to have other strategies. About half of Texas’ 1,038 public school districts have an armed presence in at least some schools, with high schools having the largest percentage. Roughly 20% of districts authorize teachers and staff members to volunteer to be armed. The state does not release the exact number of districts, nor does it identify them and the state prohibits the release of any information regarding specifics, such as the names of specific teachers or specific campuses.
In the eleven years the Texas program has been active, there has never been a negligent discharge, a case where a student or other person was able to gain access to a teacher’s weapon or where there was an overreaction by law enforcement. Not one.
In the case of Santa Fe High School, the Santa Fe Independent School District has its own police force with full law enforcement powers. Two officers were at the school when the shooting began and arrived at the art room within four minutes. Unlike the coward in Parkland, Florida, officers John Barnes and Glen Forward immediately engaged Demetrios Pagourtzis. When Barnes was critically injured by a 12-gauge shotgun blast, Officer Forward returned fire, wounding Pagourtzis, ending the shooting and taking Pagourtzis into custody.
The tiny handful of cases in the entire United States where there was a mishap on school grounds have involved negligence on the part of the instructor. The most notable case involved a teacher that was also a law enforcement officer. The teacher was teaching a class on self-defense and failed to properly clear his weapon. The only injuries that resulted were from falling ceiling tiles.
During the 2017–2018 school year, 27 students and 8 faculty and staff members died in school shootings at five different high schools. Every one of those deaths was tragic. However, there were an estimated 50.7 million students enrolled in more than 98,000 K-12 public schools. Far more children (under age 18) drowned in private swimming pools. In fact, children were more likely to be murdered in their homes by their own parents than they were to die in a school shooting.
It’s all well and good to say that gun-free zones and the police should be the answers to school shootings. The problem is, quite simply, that this is ineffective. Every school receiving federal funds of any sort has been required to have gun-free zones since 1990. Since 1994, there have been federal regulations prescribing automatic penalties for violators of gun-free zones. The drawback to reliance on law enforcement agencies is the time required to respond.
In the case of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown police were alerted as soon as the first shots were identified. Police officers immediately responded as quickly as possible. As the first responding units arrived, officers reported hearing a single gunshot. It was later determined that the shot was the one with which Adam Lanza had committed suicide after murdering 26 people.
At Columbine High School, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Neil Gardner was on duty as the school resource officer. He was having lunch when he received the call. He responded immediately but it took him about five minutes to reach the building. He exchanged fire with the shooters, as did another deputy, but the ranges involved were too great for the handguns the deputies carried. In the five minutes it took Gardner to arrive, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had already shot 12 people, killing two of them.
The whole idea of having armed teachers is to reduce the response time. Yes, there have been successful unarmed interventions but there have also been unsuccessful unarmed interventions, almost invariably resulting in the death of the teacher or staff member. If we’re going to leave it up to the individual to make that life-or-death decision, why shouldn’t we allow them to have something with which to defend themselves?
One thing that was conspicuously absent from the article was any reason for the NRA to support this morally bankrupt agenda. Anyone that stands on the bodies of dead children to promote law that wouldn’t have saved them is a low-life by almost any standard. Hard to fault the NRA for declining to join in.
How do I know this? Aside from real-world evidence and experience, I have the words of Mark Glaze, former executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Anyone would consider him to be an expert, right?
In a June 2014 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Glaze said, “It is a messaging problem when a mass shooting happens and nothing we have to offer would have stopped that mass shooting? Yeah, it’s a messaging problem.”
My only disagreement with Mr. Glaze is that it’s become far more than a messaging problem. It’s become the big lie of a scope that would make Joseph Goebbels green with envy.