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Monday, February 26, 2018


The debate rages on: arm teachers or continue the gun-free zone mentality that has created 17 more victims.


Last week President Trump took a position on gun control - he urged that teachers be armed in our schools.  This met with the predictable furor from the Left and from those who just hate guns.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune, in an article published Sunday, February 25, 2018, quoted people with varying points of view.  One was a teacher,  Erin Preese.  She said she would not carry a gun and went further:  she would not send her children to a school where teachers were armed.  Apparently she would trust to the system in place at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.   This position is in keeping with her leadership in the Minnesota chapter of an organization called “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America”.  Presumably “gun sense” in this sense means some way of making guns disappear from society.  She was not quoted on how this aim might be accomplished in our time.  Others also weighed in:  Tom Delaney, a person who trains others in gun safety observed that a good reason to carry a gun is because carrying a policeman is too heavy.  This is a reference to the idea that when seconds count help is only minutes away.  Cruz, the shooter in the Parkland event, began his attack at 2:21 p.m.  At 2:53 p.m., Broward County Sheriff’s department acknowledged that there was a shooting in progress at the school.  A communication from the Broward County Sheriff’s department indicated that a “PIO” would be on the scene at about 3:15.  In the meantime, Cruz was able to shoot and kill 17 people, stroll off to a Walmart, buy a drink at a Subway and then proceed to a McDonald’s, where he was found - a mile away from the school, at 3:41 p.m.   It would seem that Delaney has a point.


Some have called for “armed guards at the door”, including the otherwise usually astute Ben Shapiro.  I have talked about the idea of armed guards or “resource officers” in the past, once in regard to the debate in North Dakota as to whether to allow guns in schools, and again last week with reference to the current instance of violence.  This would be great if the resource officer happened to be nearby when trouble started, or had some kind of advance notice of where he should be stationed.  Guards at the door are extremely vulnerable and would be the first fatalities in such an incident, unfortuantely, leaving the gunman free to carry on with his attack.  In the Parkland event, there actually was an armed “resource officer” stationed at the school - a Deputy Sheriff, in fact.  In this case, the “guard” heard the shooting and stayed outside while innocent and unsuspecting kids were killed.  This would qualify as a genuine case of false sense of security.  Not only was this resource officer present, but three other Deputies were on the grounds, hiding behind squad cars.  Only when the police arrived did anyone attempt to stop the shooting.  By this time the shooter was on his way to the Walmart.  No one actually stopped him.  As I have often said before, someone down the hall or out on the grounds or at the door is not the answer.  


So what IS the answer?  A person who is there on site at the killer’s destination before he is, prepared to confront him.  Not a person who might be able to call 911 for help before he is shot (or might not).  A person who is empowered to act to save the precious lives in his charge, not someone who is destined to become an early victim, leaving the kids defenseless to fend for themselves.  It is unconscionable that someone who presumes to take command of a classroom as a teacher would be unwilling to become competent to protect the kids under his authority.  (And no, I am not being gender-insensitive.  I am being grammatically correct.  Of course this would often be a woman.)  


Scott Glew, a Social Studies teacher in Elk River, with eight years of military service, is also unwilling to carry a gun to school.  He claims that student safety is “high” on his list of priorities.  So it was also with Aaron Feis, a school security guard and assistant football coach at Parkland.  He stepped in front of the gunman to “protect” students.  It was an exquisitely noble gesture and his effort to save lives was above and beyond what anyone else in authority did (there were exceptional displays of courage among students), but it was futile - just another notch in Cruz’s belt and another life lost, because Feis was unarmed and defenseless himself.  This is no way to protect kids.  


Some fall back on the excuse that “teachers are not trained to do this”.  However, teachers become trained to do a lot of new things.  There was a time when the schoolmarm had to haul in the coal to stoke the potbelly stove in the one-room school.  She (grammatically correct in this case, I think) also had to shovel snow away from the door and account for the safety of kids in her classroom, whether from Indian attacks, tornados or blizzards.  She was perhaps 110 pounds and 5’2”.  She adapted.  Our teachers adapt themselves to everything from Common Core to the ins and outs of hijab ettiquette.  The most important thing they can learn at their conventions and off-season continuing education is how to protect kids effectively in the event of a shooting.  These kinds of crises are going to increase, not decrease.  The feeder system is all in place:  American kids who have been on psychiatric drug regimens since they were toddlers, with the attendant long-term mental damage and a penchant in our society to import the most violent cultures we can find around the world, tag them as “refugees” and embed them in our communities.  Eventually a lot of these teachers are going to have to do something to protect themselves and the kids in their classrooms.  This approach has never meant that ALL teachers need be armed.  If only a few unidentified teachers have weapons at the ready it would do the job.  So some teachers who don't want guns need not carry them to have "armed teachers".  In fact, in cities as large as Minneapolis there could be some schools that are "gun-free zones" and others with armed teachers.  You could take your pick of where you want your child.  And again, get rid of the "gun-free zone" signs!  Would you put one on your front door?  No.  You are more likely to post a notice that some security firm is keeping it under surveillance for you.  Why would you want less for your kids than for your TV set?


Patrick Neville, Colorado House Minority Leader, is a survivor of the Columbine massacre.  He was elected in 2014 and every year since his election he has introduced bills to allow teachers to be armed.  He has said that he believes many would have survived that awful event had teachers been armed.  Fifteen died at Columbine.  Maybe his point of view has as much “victim” legitimacy as those who are screaming at Trump in their hysteria.  It is legitimate to show emotion in our grief; it is not legitimate to allow that emotion to dictate our behavior and policy in the future.


I would urge everyone to consider objectively the factors involved and which ones we have the ability to change in order to change the outcomes of these attacks.  We cannot make guns disappear, even if we take them from law-abiding, honest citizens.  We could change some things to decrease the likelihood of a shooter attacking by looking at factors in that shooter.  So far, since and including Columbine, nearly every one of these shooters has had one thing in common - prescription psychiatric drugs.  Which came first - the psychoses or the drugs?  In many cases these drugs are given to children who are hyperactive or bored, or teens who are depressed or anxious.  Other avenues should be explored BEFORE prescribing a drug.  If drugs are necessary perhaps the patient should be confined until it is certain that no side effects or other behaviors are likely to cause an outbreak of violence.  Many of these users of prescription drugs do not shoot people at schools.  Some commit suicide or murder or harm others in less spectacular scenarios.  The harm of these drugs is well-documented.  So this is the second thing we should consider.  Can we eliminate or moderate this abuse?  The answer is of course we can - we can enact legislation to prevent the profligate prescribing of these drugs and limit access to a few trained professionals, not general practitioners and certainly not nurse practitioners without medical doctors’ degrees!  


The other source of mass violence in our era is jihad.  We need to forestall the next wave of such attacks by vetting every single person we admit into the United States from abroad.  If we continue to import violent foreign cultures we will continue to see escalating violence. If we accept the culture of a society that enshrines killing we are accepting that view along with it.  If we normalize a culture which condones violence we also condone and normalize it.  In fact, Nikolas Cruz was known to have been enthralled with the jihad culture of ISIS.  It perhaps had no direct causative effect on this attack, but it might have indicated a kind of dangerous mindset.  


So these are factors involving the attackers which we should address. What about the defensive team?  Guards at the doors, armed or not, were not the answer at Parkland.  They had them and they did not stop even one bullet.  Cruz just finished and left on his own, having satisfied himself.  The guards had no more effect than no one at the door, so that, too, is a false hope.  The only option left would be to arm teachers or at least allow them to arm themselves.  The possibility of the cowardice displayed by the “armed guard at the door” in Parkland might be a good deal less if the person with the gun is confronted personally by the would-be shooter. There is no running away when you are in that classroom.  He would not have the option of hiding while others were killed.  This makes the teacher the logical person to stop an attack.


If we cannot trust teachers with guns, why on earth should we entrust our kids to them?  We might need to provide bonuses for teachers who are proficient and willing to use a gun to defend the defenseless and confront a potential killer.  That would indeed be money well spent.  Those teachers who are willing to leave the kids and themselves at the mercy of a nut or whatever can afford to do with less income.  We should seek good safety training for those who are going to carry - many sheriff’s departments already do this at no charge.  If we can spend money on training teachers the difference between a niqab, an hijab and a burqa, if we can take time out to re-train them to teach Common Core confusion, if we can train them against “gender normative thinking” and require them to adapt themselves to “Danny has Two Daddies” or whatever, we surely can make room in their busy training schedules and impose on their personal aversions to make our kids safe in our schools.  A teacher who cannot be trusted should not be hired in the first place.  


I am not a member of the NRA.  The tiny amount of money contributed to the political class by the NRA relative to the massive fortunes donated by the pharmaceutical industry should not be blamed.  I am also not a Trump follower.  I did not even vote for him.  But in this he is right and I will be the first to support his call to arm teachers.  The issue is not getting rid of guns because that is not and has never been a realistic possibility.  The issue is how to make our kids safer in our schools and in this Trump is right.  It is common sense.


It has been said that conservatives approach government with a belief that mankind is not perfect nor perfectable.  Conservatives believe therefore that we need checks and balances.  This is such a case.  We know there are guns out there and there will continue to be, no matter what we would like, and we know some people are evil-doers.  The point is to check them.  If they have a gun the good guys must have a gun in their corner too.  


There is an element of self-righteous disdain for common sense among organizations such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and their like.  They persist in a belief that if we just take guns away from ordinary citizens and leave them - and therefore the rest of us - defenseless, violence against the innocent will stop.  They are not only willing, but determined, to put even their own children on this altar and sacrifice them to this illogical cause.  Does it make more sense to take away arms from the law-abiding and hope for the best or does it make better sense to see to it that killers are not the only ones with guns?



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