Two pertinent facts about me: 1) I classify myself as a conservative moderate. 2) I’m not anti-gun. I’ve owned guns almost as long as I can remember, and continue to enjoy a morning at the range with my sons occasionally.
I blogged previously on gun control: Restricting the ownership of weapons with huge magazines should be one area that the NRA could move toward the middle ground. But they choose not to. For me this destroys their credibility as a rational organization. These are weapons designed to kill people, not for hunting, not for target practice, not even home defense. We don’t allow civilians to own bazookas, or flame throwers, and those restrictions haven’t violated or destroyed our Second Amendment rights. Further, it would be easy enough to establish a special Collectors Permit with significant restrictions for properly documented gun collectors, allowing them to collect “special” guns.
Today I’ll add some new thoughts on proposed “solutions”.
Armed teachers or guards
Arming teachers or guards at schools [see article on Montpelier, Ohio] is a bad idea for multiple reasons. What prevents them from going off the deep end and causing the shooting spree they are intended to stop? If a school has a single armed guard, what would prevent the crazed shooter from ambushing the armed guard first? Or worse, what prevents someone with a baseball bat from ambushing the guard and using the guard’s weapon on the students and teachers? If we arm teachers, where/how do they secure the weapon so that students don’t have access, but the teacher can reach it quickly? If we were to arm guards or teachers at schools, they would have to be highly trained, more than just a weekend or week at a combat arms class. Montpelier, Ohio is going to arm four non-teachers after a weekend training course. “We’re going to do it properly,” Superintendent Jamie Grimes is quoted as saying. Two days of training?! I’d laugh if the topic wasn’t so serious. This strikes me as potentially putting multiple George Zimmerman types in the halls of our schools – bad idea. Anything less than full police training is irresponsible, and sets a school up for a self-inflicted tragedy. Unfortunately properly trained personnel would be a huge financial burden, diverting funds away from educating our children and grandchildren. Finally, where do we stop? Once we put guns in schools, what about pre-schools, or malls, and then theaters and other public events? I don’t believe more guns is the answer.
Buy and use gun safes
My friend Jim Stewart proposes one simple way to reduce the weapons available to the crazies (intentionally not PC), and thieves. Buy and use gun safes and/or locks. Why didn’t Nancy Lanza have her guns secured? She knew her son was mentally imbalanced and shouldn’t have access. This is a fix every gun owner could make today.
Better mental health care
In some cases we could get to the source of the problem with better mental health support and treatment. But what would that look like? We can’t be on a hair trigger to commit our neighbors, friends, and family to a facility the first time they act weird (in our opinion). An article by Greg Toppo in USA Today, “10 years later, the real story behind Columbine”, 4/14/2009, tells us that Harris and Klebold were not the bullied geeks as originally portrayed. Research into their journals, postings, etc shows Harris to be a major psychopath like Charles Manson or Timothy McVey, and Klebold seriously depressed and suicidal. Both were cagey and devious enough to hide their tacks. And how do you deter anyone willing to die (a’ la suicide bombers)? However, as a society we could reduce the stigma of seeking mental health counseling, and get more folks the help they need before it’s too late.
Make buying guns harder
As my son and shooting buddy says, “I need more paperwork to sell my car than to sell a gun.” Private sales of firearms should require paperwork. Harris and Klebold acquired many of their supplies and guns through friends. People will think twice about what they do if there is a paper trail. Yes, they may do it anyway, but it would be another improvement.
Don’t let the terrorist win
Sad to say but the attitude or goal, “We must make sure this never happens again,” is not realistic. We can not guarantee that another tragedy will never happen. Quite to the contrary, one almost surely will. And we cannot put all the blame on guns. If Harris and Klebold’s Plan A (bombs) would have worked, they wouldn’t have needed to fire a single round. This does not mean that we don’t try. While there is no one cure-all for ending tragedies in our schools, we can make some reasonable improvements. Then live our lives boldly, and be thankful for every good day. And sadly, take time to grieve when tragedy strikes.
So in summary the argument, “guns don’t kill people, people do,” is a cliché sound bite. The reality is assault weapons make it too easy for one person to kill many people. We can make assault weapons less available, and mental health care more available. We can take a variety of actions to reduce the number of Columbines, Auroras, and Newtowns. And last, we can help raise our Grandchildren to seek and appreciate the joys in life, and not let evil and fear of evil dominate their lives.