Wayne LaPierre: Close but Not Quite
As an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment for many years, I was looking forward to hearing from NRA president Wayne LaPierre about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. He had the good sense to wait for a decent while before speaking and thereby convey some evidence of actually thinking about this horrifying event, unlike the lockstep, ignorant leftists who began promulgating grand gun-ban wisdom within minutes afterward.
Surely LaPierre speaks the simple but indisputable truth when he says, "People driven by demons walk among us every day[.] The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Moreover, the onus he lays on the violent video games industry is altogether plausible. However, his solution that calls for putting an armed police officer in every school falls short of adequate.
I live in a Midwestern rural-suburban neighborhood (I like to call it the "ruburbs") where gun ownership is normative and the sounds of recreational gunfire -- yes, occasionally even a multi-shot burst from a semi-automatic weapon -- can be heard on a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes I get a little annoyed at the noise if I'm trying to take an afternoon snooze, but then another voice inside me says, "Thank you for shooting those guns today."
Shortly after my family moved to this neighborhood more than a quarter-century ago, there was a brief "crime wave." A burglary ring broke into and robbed several houses during daylight hours, while the owners were working. The ring was caught and busted. Since then, there have been no similar recurrences that I'm aware of. There has never been a gun murder in my neighborhood, to say nothing of a massacre, either individually perpetrated or gang-style. My neighborhood is essentially crime-free.
Is it any wonder? Armed malefactors know that there are guns in my neighborhood, but they have no way of knowing anything about where they are or the state of readiness of the weapons or their owners. In other words, the gun presence is both pervasive and anonymous. If you were a killer armed with a gun or even just a blunt instrument, would you break into my home in the night looking to do me harm? If you were an armed massacrist, would you look for a bonfire party in my neighborhood to vent your evil? No, you'd move on to the nearest town with a gun ban.
Contrast this with the circumstances of the Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO massacres, where rigorous gun bans were in force. The massacrists there really had no need of assault weapons; they had all the time in the world to load and reload a single pistol at leisure and wreak death all around them until the inevitably late-arriving police showed up. In Aurora, the ban on guns is so strict that, as columnist and criminology professor Mike Adams put it, "any person who would have shot James Holmes and stopped the massacre would, themselves, have been arrested as a criminal! In Aurora, Colorado, it is illegal to stop a massacre." Hoplophobia doesn't get any more foolishly irrational than that.
LaPierre's very moderate proposal to put a police officer -- presumably uniformed -- in every school is good as far as it goes. But placing one or even two identifiable mercenaries in a school or public place may do little to prevent a massacre; in the time it would take for an armed policeman to get from one end of a large school to the other, a massacrist could perpetrate lots of hideous death.
What is really needed in every school, and this need is exactly the same as in a residential neighborhood despite many differences in circumstances, is a gun presence that is pervasive and anonymous, while at the same time strictly adult and law-abiding -- a citizens' mini-militia accountable to highly trained and qualified leadership, true hoplites they, providing their own armaments and protecting our children. We should:
- Permit, even encourage, any teacher or adult school employee willing to do so to carry a concealed handgun on school premises.
- Such volunteers should, however, be required to undergo rigorous background checking and firearms training before carrying a gun into a school. Normal requirements for a concealed-carry permit should be regarded as a minimum standard; additional training should cover such issues as unique conditions in a school environment, recognizing and reporting disturbing behavior by students or suspicious school hang-arounds, distinguishing between property crimes and threats to life, etc.
- The identities of such in-school concealed-carriers should be kept anonymous as much as possible. Even if some of the concealed-carriers became known, however, a would-be massacrist or other criminal could never be certain who is armed.
- The overall program of in-school concealed-carry should be widely publicized both in the school and in the community.
Ah, I can hear it now: the screeching dingbat left, upon learning of such a proposal, quadrupling down on the predictable revilement they heaped on that wascally-wight-wing extwemist Wayne LaPierre. As for me, I'll stick with Barry Goldwater, the greatest should-have-been-elected president in American history: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
Tragically, American education, dominated as it is today by the radical leftist ignorantsia of Bill Ayers's ilk, will doubtless continue demanding imposition of gun-ban fatuity which can lead only to more bloodshed and heartbreak in the future.
Paul Jacobson is a freelance writer on political/cultural topics. He blogs at Flyoverpen.com.