My buddy Terry and I disagree on much of the politics of the day, but one thing we do agree on is that it is not acceptable in America today for children to die at school in a hail of gunfire.
We chewed on it for several days while he was visiting down here in Florida and we’re well aware that the ongoing gun discussion has no quick answer. But as I wrote above, we did agree that we need to find a voice to halt the carnage.
Terry suggested using people like himself, former military police, well trained in arms and observation to work at schools in plain clothes with concealed carry to greet kids as they come in to school. One entrance, one exit.
Not a solution to the gun debate; not a political issue. Just an issue for knowing we can send our children to school and know they have a good chance of coming back home.
I read an editorial from USA Today by James Alan Fox that made the case that, well, statistically, it’s really not that bad.
“Notwithstanding the occasional multiple-fatality shooting that takes place at one of the 100,000 public schools across America, the nation’s schools are safe. Over the past quarter-century, on average about 10 students are slain in school shootings annually.”
I disagree. It IS bad. Ten students slain annually is unforgiveable. I’m curious as to what the number of child deaths Mr. Fox would find it unacceptable. 12? 15? 50? 100? 1,000? Or would it be only when his child or grandchild is one of the dead?
No other country has anywhere near that statistic to live with, unless there is an active war going on. And what Fox fails to point out, both the number of shootings per year and the number of dead have been increasing with the passing of time.
We should be ashamed.
Whatever it is that creates that statistic needs to change. Terry and I agree on that. We might disagree on the mechanics of how to change it, but we do NOT find 10 student deaths annually from gunfire an acceptable statistic.
We’re not going to get rid of the 300 million or so guns in the US. I know that.
The fact that the number of guns per capita has doubled since 1968 points to something basic that has changed in our culture. Whether it’s fear, or advertising, or video games or politics I don’t know. And I do care, but only from my personal preference of a culture going forward that doesn’t feel the need to live in an armed camp.
We’re not going to fix that overnight. Perhaps we never will. Perhaps we really don’t want to.
But what we do need to do is stop the carnage.
The President has proposed more extensive background checks, a ban on bump stocks (like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter) and raising the age to purchase and assault weapon from 18 to 21. I can get behind that.
But none of those would have prevented what happened in Florida last week.
I have a problem with the President’s proposal to arm teachers. He did limit it to teachers with a background in policing or the military, and that helps, but teachers need to teach. Guns in the classroom are still a problem for me.
What Terry suggested is something every state could do on its own; so could any school. There are thousands of retired military and police officers that could work at schools, after thorough vetting and mental health screening, either paid or volunteer.
They know weapons and have a nose for potential threats. They can get to know the students, be an active, positive part of the school environment.
If funding is a problem, the NRA could help with some donations. Gun owners could chip in. There could be a Children Count tax added to gun sales.
I think there are already laws on the books limiting guns near schools. But those could be improved and real teeth added to the penalties.
I doubt that we can eliminate gun violence at schools; there are just too many guns, too little control over the distribution. And I don’t want to turn our schools into prisons or armed camps.
But we can at least try to limit the occurrences and body count until we figure out some long-term solutions.