Last Friday as I was finishing up a blog post, a news story hit the wires. An elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut had attacked by a gunman and there were many children among the casualties. I put a quick paragraph in front about it, and made the following prediction:
What makes it worse is that I know, within a few days, that Wayne LaPierre is going to issue a statement out of NRA headquarters that will be just as stupid as his other ones.
Yesterday, he did.
“I call on Congress today to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation,” LaPierre said. The proposed program, called the National School Shield, would help train and install security at schools nationwide under the leadership of former Arkansas Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson.
“Innocent lives might have been spared,” LaPierre said, if armed security was present at Sandy Hook. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Besides statements to the contrary from Newtown police – that an armed officer would not have been able to stop this – it ignores that in one of the previous school shootings – Columbine – there was an armed officer on security duty. Which he couldn’t stop. But it was predictable what LaPierre would say. He always says the same thing. No matter what, the solution he proposes is just … more guns.
MSNBC conservative contributor Michael Steele was left literally speechless at first before expressing his dismay at the pro-gun lobbying organization’s suggestion that the government arm police officers in all schools.
When asked for his thoughts on the presser by host Thomas Roberts, a seemingly exasperated Steele struggled to find words.
When he recovered, he explained: “I don’t know where to begin.”
“As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA,” he continued, “even though I am not a member of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that we are country talking about arming our teachers and principals in classrooms. What does that say about us? I do not believe that’s where the american people want to go. I do not believe that is the response that should be coming out of the tragedy in Newtown.”
Which was echoed by Governor Christie:
“In general I don’t think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom,” Christie said, according to the Bergen Record. “Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door? There’s many doors in and out of schools.”
He further argued that such measures are not “conducive to a positive learning environment,” adding that “you don’t want to make this an armed camp for kids.”
Slate “helpfully” points out that there’s a real cost to this proposal:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics there are 98,817 K-12 schools in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says cops make $55,000 a year. So we could put $5.4 billion as the low level estimate of the cost. Cops obviously have health care benefits and pension and disability benefits for police offers tend to be fairly costly so the real price would be higher than that.
Good luck getting the tax increase through for that, and I seriously doubt the Republicans are going to come up with the money. The gun advocates who aren’t suggesting armed officers are suggesting “arming the teachers.” Which is going over about as well as the LaPierre’s idea. They’ll say the same thing no matter what, and they won’t change. The Onion had a sadly true post a while back about what might cause them to re-think what they say.
A week ago, I could have written LaPierre’s statement for him. It’s not because I’m psychic, it’s because some people are blatantly predictable, and the NRA executives are the most predictable of the lot. But you know what? Just once I’d have liked to be wrong.