Commentary | The recent NRA statement suggested that we arm the teachers. The NRA hopes to jumpstart that movement with a “model school shield program” where 11,000 volunteer instructors will help out. The media has already begun to sound off on this idea and we look at some of the alternative methods suggested for protecting our schools.
The NRA is calling on Congress to put armed guards in all schools. There are about 98,817 public schools in the United States. If arming the schools required one single-shift guard the cost per school would be about $60,000 including benefits, taxes and overhead. That amounts to about $5.93 billion nationwide, which seems unlikely in the face of Fiscal Cliff arguments, so in the meantime the NRA is proposing that existing school personnel bare the onus for protecting the children when combined with a volunteer model school shield program.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a Californian councilman has already made a similar suggestion to the model school shield program. But he went one step further, saying that schools should be designed like a defensive parameter, with walls or fences funneling people toward one large entrance. The idea is that it’s easier to defend against an incoming attacker coming in through one narrow point. Of course, the downside is that if a school shooter hops the defenses then students are limited to escaping through that same defensive funnel. And where do schools get the money to redesign all of our buildings?
Instead of relying on guns, some in the media believe that teachers and students should instead be trained to respond to school shooters in a slightly different way. At the Daily Beast, Megan McArdle says a group tackle is the solution:
“If we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.”
Anyone who has used a semi-automatic weapon would likely laugh at the idea. A frontal assault against anyone slightly well-versed in using guns would likely result in more deaths compared to simply running away. Although a good counter-point is that Jared Loughner’s rampage in Tucson was stopped when he had to pause to reload.
The idea of tackling the aggressors was picked up at the National Review, where Charlotte Allen blamed the victim’s deaths on a lack of men willing to throw themselves into the line of fire:
“There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. … In general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.”
Uh, oh. Did sexism just enter the discussion, making it ever so more messy?
The meat of the NRA proposal focuses on arming the teachers and other school personnel in order to protect themselves. This tweet on Twitter pretty much summarizes the media’s reaction to this idea:
Three days ago: "How dare the NRA remain silent!" Today: "How dare the NRA speak!"
— jon gabriel (@exjon) December 21, 2012
The New Yorker thinks that giving access to more guns will just cause more shooting deaths:
“Where else does all this lead? Will we evaluate teachers not only on their students test scores, but on target practice, with merit pay for mastery of semi-automatic weapons? Mourners at the funeral of the next Vicki Soto shouldn’t have to whisper about her aim. Or is the only good teacher the teacher who keeps a Glock in her purse, and knows how to use it; or the one who has a second gun on her so that when some troubled eighth-grader grabs the classroom weapon she can shoot down her own student?”
Keep in mind that guns have been in the classroom in Israel since the 1970s and in Texas for about five years. If the hypothetical scenario painted by the New Yorker has ever occurred I could not find any sign of it using Google.
According to CNN even some Republicans like former RNC Chairman Michael Steele are appalled by this idea to arm the teachers:
“I don’t even know where to begin. As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, even though I’m not a member of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now that are talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms. I do not believe that’s where the American people want to go.”
Twitter is another method some are using to share their revulsion:
Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 21, 2012
Some conservatives agree with the idea overall but say that the way the NRA statement presented the idea was awful:
While I agree with the NRA and LaPierre's points in substance, I'm not sure this presser was good in style a week after Newtown.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) December 21, 2012
Having said that, I don't think this presser was wise. And if you do it, you ought to be willing to take questions.
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) December 21, 2012
A Gallup Poll from Wednesday seems to indicate that a whopping 87 percent of Americans may agree with the overall idea of the NRA’s plan for a Model School Shield Program. When asked about “increasing the police presence at schools” 53 percent considered this plan “very effective” and 34 percent “somewhat effective.” Only 12 percent thought this idea would be ineffective and one percent offered no opinion. The Gallup poll also compared what people thought about the effectiveness of various plans, including mental health:
“Almost as many people (34%) thought that at least one school official in every school should carry a gun as those who favored banning the sale of assault and semi-automatic guns, while 27% felt that the news media should not print or read the names of the shooter. The news blackout of the shooter drew the highest percentage of those who thought it would be ineffective, at 40%, but the gun ban was a close second in the ineffectiveness rating at 36%. What also becomes clear from the poll is the public’s perception that all of the solutions offered would be fruitless, as 53% was the highest positive rating of any of the remedies.”
A serious criticism of this plan would include the fact that according to CNN an armed police officer named Deputy Gardner was stationed at Columbine when that school shooting took place. Unfortunately, Deputy Gardner happened to be outside of the school building in his car when the two shooters entered, so he could not have possibly prevented the Columbine massacre. But because an armed police officer was stationed at the school it was possible for the school to both defend itself and also make a faster report that an attack was in progress. This likely decreased the response time of the police and saved lives.
When Deputy Gardner arrived on the scene his car was hit with multiple gunshots, and he briefly exchanged fire with Eric Harris before the shooter retreated into the school building. Another deputy arrived shortly and together they distracted the two Columbine shooters, who fired at them from windows. They also called for backup from other police, and within four minutes of the initial report six police deputies were on the scene. So, instead of being free to roam around the school killing at will, the Columbine shooters were instead busy with suppressing gunfire from the police.
An armed guard at the school also gave students a chance to escape. Deputy Gardner and the other first responders evacuated nearly 2,000 students and over 100 school faculty. Can you imagine the possible number of dead if Deputy Gardner had not been stationed at the Columbine school?
Any plan like the Model School Shield Program will over the long term not be 100 percent effective in preventing school shootings. The real question is a matter of tradeoffs. Will arming the teachers prevent needless deaths? Or would banning the most deadly weapons save more lives? Or both ideas combined? Or is it possible a moderate plan for gun control reform is a middle ground that will be the most effective?
Considering all this, do you think the NRA Model School Shield Program, or something similar, should be implemented in America’s public school system?