Civil Discourse Now

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Armed guards did not work at Columbine or (good grief!) Fort Hood!

   This country seems to be held hostage by ourselves. The NRA—as some alternative to gun control—advocates armed guards in our nation’s schools.

   Armed security was on staff at Columbine. The 2009 shootings at Fort Hood took place on an Army post—in the middle of a lot of people armed with firearms who were trained in use of firearms. Armed guards apparently are not as effective as the NRA would have us believe. An alternative would be to have armed guards in every hallway and in every classroom in every public school at all times.

   I have read estimates of costs for such a program. The number to start has been $5.5 billion. There are those who would say: "Use volunteers." Some of those volunteers might prove to be very conscientious. Others might prove to be a bit like Barney Fife on steroids. Oftentimes "cheap" in our society—be it in the context of tennis shoes or professional services—turns out to be expensive. "Free" can turn out to be the most expensive of all. If we need armed security to protect children in our schools, we need to do so with paid professionals.

   Who will pay this expense? The taxpayers probably will be stuck with such a tab—if the NRA plan receives serious consideration and somehow is enacted. There would be a few hurdles to passage. Once a bill somehow would get out of the Congress and signed into law by the President, the Supreme Court would have to say—in litigation, one can be sure, that would ensue—there is a provision in the Constitution that empowers the Federal government to place armed guards in every classroom and hallway of every public school in the country.

   Finally—why would anyone want to place guards everywhere in our public school systems? The initial response probably is: to prevent mass killings such as those that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary and other places.

   Really, there are three underlying reasons.

   The first is to protect the profits of gun manufacturers.

   The second is an overarching fear that is placed in the minds of people so that the people more easily are cowed. We should not react to a supposedly "unknown" element and place armed security in our schools. We know elements of the problems. We should ban private ownership of semi-automatic weapons, large-capacity clips, and assault weapons. We should sharply restrict, or ban, private ownership of handguns.

   The third is a mind-set hard to jar. It was expressed by a man with whom I worked on construction in 1977 or thereabouts. The "energy crisis" first had hit (been created by OPEC and its allies on the boards of directors of oil corporations) in 1973. People were encouraged to drive vehicles with better gas mileage. This individual said, "I’ll never give up my eight-cylinder car. This is what I live for." The car in question was a Ford LTD. The late Jerry Falwell expressed similar sentiments when, in the face of the issue of energy, he advocated everyone go out and buy an RV.

   Of course, I have read others say we should do away with public education, then we would not have schools in which these tragedies take place. (There still would be malls and cinemas and other places where people gather. We also would lose an element of our society—public education—that has been a key to the successes our country has enjoyed over the past century.)

   We are at the mercy of large corporations with sufficient funds to buy politicians by the dozen. Public interest in gun control no doubt will wane or outright disappear over another crisis. (Can anyone say "fiscal cliff"?) I hope there are meaningful restrictions on firearms. Given the present makeup of Congress, I do not see any such legislation in the near future. Perhaps there will be after presently gerrymandered districts are re-drawn in 2020.  That’s a while to wait.

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