The Des Moines Register published an editorial, on Christmas of all times, calling the statement made by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association calling for armed police officers in schools misguided. They noted that Columbine High School had an armed school resource officer and security guard at the time who failed to stop the shooters.
So what? There was also a federal assault weapon ban and a school gun-free zone law in place at the time. That didn’t stop them either. The Des Moines Register’s editorial board continued:
The NRA’s stance on new gun-control measures following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School — calling for more guns, not fewer guns — was stunning for its simplicity and for its lack of common sense.
This nation has now witnessed mass killings at the hands of gunmen in a high school, on college campuses, in a movie theater, in a shopping mall, in houses of worship, on the street outside the Empire State Building and now in a grade school.
Taken to its extreme, the NRA’s position would transform the United States into the equivalent of Baghdad’s Green Zone, surrounded by concrete barriers guarded by armed sharpshooters.
That is not a vision of a free country that cherishes freedom. That is a vision of a nation living in fear in armed camps because of a failure to deal with the root causes of violence and the weapons of choice for mass murderers.
The last thing this country needs is more guns in schools.
I find it interesting that the Register would talk about freedom when they advocate taking away gun rights from people who are law abiding citizens. Three things I’d like to point out.
- Mass shootings typically take place in situations or places that are “gun free zones.” Columbine – a gun free zone for average citizens. Virginia Tech University – a gun free zone. The movie theater in Aurora, CO – a gun free zone. New York City has some of the most stringent gun laws and yet we don’t see their murder rate going down.
- “Taken to its extreme” – the NRA isn’t advocating an extreme position, but a common sense one. Many communities already have school resource officers. If they already have police in the schools make sure they are armed. Some advocate arming teachers. There are those who have pointed to Israel as an example of that. What isn’t mentioned is that almost every Israeli citizen were at one time Israeli Defense Force conscripts so almost every citizen there has a military background and training with firearms. They are also under threat of terrorist attacks on a daily basis. That is not our experience. So I don’t agree with some who advocate arming every teacher. Having an armed presence or relaxing gun free zone laws in certain instances isn’t akin to creating an armed camp with a concrete barrier however.
- More guns in schools???? How is this possible when most schools are “gun free zones”???
Then only thing about their argument that makes sense is the cost of placing armed police officers in every school. I agree that isn’t economically feasible. Which is why our gun free zone laws should be eliminated or relaxed for armed, trained, law-abiding adults.
Consider that many locations do have armed security or they are places where people with carry permits can enter. They cite the church shooting. I don’t know if they are specifically referring to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, CO. An armed security guard, who was an off-duty police officer, shot and killed the shooter before he could take more lives. In shopping mall shooting in Oregon an armed citizen likely stopped more bloodshed from taking place. With Columbine if that armed school resource officer wasn’t there how much further would the shooters have gone?
The Des Moines Register seems to be guilty of revisionist history – more often than not while an armed presence may not prevent a shooting from taking place it has saved lives. It can’t be just left to the police, as the Register has pointed out, it isn’t economically feasible.
We certainly can’t ignore mental health issues that were involved with the Newtown, CT shooting. I would also submit that the root cause to violence is one that the Des Moines Register has had (and likely will continue to have) no problem ignoring. However placing law abiding citizens in situations where there can’t be a response from an armed citizen or peace officer because they have been disarmed is, in their words, misguided.
Update: I wanted to share a comment that William Luke Priest made on Facebook with his permission.
I disagree with the Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board; the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t equate to anarchy. Though I disagree with Mr. LaPierre almost as much; turning our schools into prisons isn’t the answer. As the meme photo floating around Facebook for several days so adequately explains, we don’t have fully trained and equipped fire fighters in every school in America; we have fire extinguishers. It is time that we reject the lie that gun violence is any different from any other physical danger that our children face in our schools. All of the dangers should be handled in a similar manner, minimize the threat, train teachers and staff to deal with the threat, when possible institutionalize a threat neutralizer.
We don’t leave gasoline laying around and don’t let the children play with matches; matter of fact, we teach them fire safety. We train staff how to evacuate the building in a fire, and teach them how to use a fire extinguisher. We install fire suppression systems where possible.
We shouldn’t leave fire arms or explosives carelessly laying around, and we should train our children in basic armsmanship. We should allow our teachers to carry deadly force provided they are comfortable and pass employers aptitude requirements. Unlike water sprinklers, deadly bullets can’t just be sprayed all over the school if someone pulls the alarm. Automated suppressing fire is far more likely to injure or kill innocents than it is to stop the threatening gunman.