Saturday, December 22, 2012

After Sandy Hook...

Now that the initial wave of shock and horror over the shootings at Sandy Hook has worn off, the national debate has again started about gun control, and to a less degree, mental health issues. Discussions about both are long overdue.

After every recent shooting, the first reaction of the gun-lovers buy more guns, because they fear "the government" is going to make it impossible to get guns. Am I the only one who sees this as closely related to the behavior pattern of people who are hoarders?

I'm tired of hearing some say that this happened because of some amorphous  "Evil" in the world that humankind is powerless to overcome. If there's Evil afoot, it's what Hannah Arendt, writing about the Nazis, call the banality of evil:  "normalizing the unthinkable." Such as accepting the idea that the man or woman on the street needs to own military-style semi-automatic assault weapons with huge magazines of ammo.

There have been quite a few unbelievably loathsome statements by the pro-gun crowd. Just to hit some of the highlights:

Mike Huckabee, whose statement on Fox News that "we've systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?" has to be one of the ugliest, most offensive things uttered by a member of the religious right. And folks, that takes in a lot of competition. He's blamed the victims for their own horrific deaths, and painted a picture of God as some kind of drunken  jealous, vengeful child abuser. What a vile, hateful human being. 

Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, who, two days after the murders of 20 children and 6 adults, said, "Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to ensure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered."  This is the same guy who said people need guns to "control the government." In 1992, Pratt shared the stage with Neo-Nazis and Christian Identity groups, and has also been accused of speaking before white supremacist and militia groups. And we are supposed to feel safer with this lunatic and his followers carrying guns?

Though not in the same class as Huckabee and Pratt, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)  gave it his best shot: fantasizing that "I wish to God [Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hoschsprung] had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out…and takes [the gunman] out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids."

The NRA at least had the decency to wait a week before their CEO Wayne LaPierre came out and delivered a statement that called on Congress to "appropriate everything that is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation."

Let's pretend for just a moment that the NRA actually was serious about their proposal instead of just putting out some complete piece of bullshit (because they had to say something) and see just what it would entail.

How many entrances/exits does the average school have? Think of all those fire doors. And how many police guards would be posted at each of them? One? Two? 

What sort of weaponry will they be issued, and body armor? Remember - they are supposed to be keeping out crazy people with assault weapons.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the average school has a 10 points of entrance/egress, and that each of these has 2 guards. That means 20 guards per school, multiplied by however many schools in the school district. Fort Worth Independent School District has over 125 schools (primary, middle and high), which would mean an additional 2,500 employees.

And what assurance do we have that posting guards would deter would-be psycho-killers? As one person pointed out last week, banks have guards, but they still get held up.

We have to admit this is just another example of security theater - something designed to make us think we or our loved ones are safer, but without doing a damned thing.

Now - the final question: who is going to pay for all of this?

Is this an unfunded mandate the individual schools must pay for? Schools already have a hard enough time paying teachers and for "luxuries" such as art and music. Do we (dare I utter the words) raise taxes? And given the stereotypical NRA member (conservative) - what are they going to say when asked to pony up tax money to guard the schools? This is the same crowd that bitches like crazy about the TSA screening you at the airport.

Or do we just enact reasonable, responsible gun control?

All of the solutions the gun crowd are pushing boil down to: fight gun violence with more guns. That's like saying the way to fight childhood obesity is to eat more cheeseburgers.

The National Rifle Association used to have a bumper sticker that said, "I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands."

Have it your way.

That's sounding like a better and better idea these days.

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