There are several things that are not going to happen in this country in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that struck Newtown, Conn., two weeks ago.
First of all, despite the recommendations of National Rifle Association top honcho Wayne LaPierre, we are not going to post armed guards in all of our nation’s schools. There are something like 135,000 schools in this country. The cost to put armed guards in all of them for every hour they are open would be staggering. I can’t imagine there are very many local communities that would be willing to pay the price.
Nor is there any chance that Congress will vote to strip our various entitlement programs to cover the costs, or to slash the military budget to do so. Yes, I know, only a heartless cretin would try to put a price tag on the value of saving the lives of those 20 6- and 7-year-olds, not to mention the six adults who were also murdered by the same deranged gunman. But let’s face facts here, folks. Would we really be willing to pay the costs of sending armed guards into our schools every day (and night) they are open, to prevent one or two incidents a year? I don’t think so.
Another idea some people have proposed is to arm some of our teachers. While I agree with the sentiment that the best way to stop a bad man with a gun is by a good man (or woman) with one, can you really see very many school boards that would approve such an effort?
As the father of five children, I’ve known a lot of teachers over the years. And frankly, there aren’t too many of them I would like to see armed and ready at any of the schools my children attended.
Yes, I’ve seen the emails circulating on the Internet claiming that school teachers in Israel routinely go to school armed and ready to deter terrorists. But the story is false. Israel has no such policy. Although I confess, it would make a lot more sense to do so in a country where military service is compulsory for every young person, male and female. Presumably they all have had some weapons training, which is not the case in the United States.
But let me play the devil’s advocate here for a moment and point out that it isn’t necessary for every teacher to be armed and ready to fend off an attack. All it takes is one. And there is a lot of evidence that responsible gun owners who have taken the steps necessary to comply with concealed-carry laws in their community can save lives.
Mass shootings at public schools in this country were extremely rare prior to 1995. That was the year that Congress approved the national Gun-Free School Zone Act. The assumption was that banning anyone from carrying a weapon into any of our public schools would make them safer.
No, it didn’t. All it did was make them sitting ducks for deranged lunatics. For starters, how about we rescind that law and encourage people who want to be ready to deal with such situations, rare as they may be, to get the training, permits and equipment necessary to carry a concealed weapon in public?
I’m told that something like 8.5 million Americans can legally carry concealed weapons today. Wouldn’t you feel safer if that number were several times higher? And wouldn’t you feel safer if our schools were no longer publicly advertised no-gun zones?
John R. Lott Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime, asked an interesting question in USA Today this week: “Would you feel safer with a sign on your house saying ‘this house is a gun-free zone’? But if you wouldn’t put these signs on your home, why put them elsewhere?” Why indeed.
While we’re on the subject of getting weapons in the hands of the good guys (and gals), let’s discuss for a moment if it’s possible to do a better job of spotting the potential bad guys and stopping them before they act.
I don’t know of any mental health screening that would have identified Adam Lanza as a potential mass murderer; or one that would have warned the folks in Webster, N. Y., that William Spengler was about to go berserk and murder two firemen (and wanted to kill a lot more). And I shudder to think of the violation of our civil liberties that it would take to put any such program in place.
I suspect that one thing all of these murderous lunatics have in common is a sick desire for publicity for their crimes. Sadly, that’s one thing we can’t deny them. A free press means giving the public the news it wants, even if that means a morbid fascination with such terrible tragedies as the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But it’s interesting to contemplate whether their actions would be any different if they knew the media wouldn’t fill the airwaves with stories about them.
And finally, let me say a few words about the notion that taking guns away from law-abiding Americans will do anything to keep them out of the hands of criminals and psychotics. After the tragic deaths in Newtown, the gun-control lobby has gone into a frenzy. The vitriolic attacks against the NRA and other gun advocates have gotten a bit scary.
But I don’t believe that taking guns away from law-abiding Americans will do anything to make us safer. And no matter what the anti-gun lobby would like to believe, it ain’t going to happen. I expect the courts to continue to affirm our 2nd Amendment rights, which pretty clearly states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
Oh, I’m sure we’ll see proposals to increase controls on assault weapons and large magazines. Now that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are on the case, more restrictive legislation is bound to be proposed. Something may even get approved in Congress.
But to believe it will make us any safer is just wishful thinking. I for one would like to see more law-abiding Americans prepared to defend themselves and their community. And after the recent tragedies, maybe we will.
Let me close by thanking you all for your readership and comments. I appreciate the bouquets and yes, even the occasional brickbats.
It’s certainly been an interesting year. And 2013 looks like it will be, too. Although I’m reminded that the ancient Chinese expression, “May you live in interesting times,” wasn’t meant as a blessing, but as a curse.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.