I’m hesitant to post about the most recent mass shooting–this one in a Texas elementary school. After all, what is there to say that hasn’t been said a million times before? As one commentator sadly noted, we’ll now hear Democrats talk about gun control and Republicans talk about mental illness.
Then, of course, there are Republicans like the odious Ted Cruz, who responded to an unspeakable tragedy in his state by asserting that the answer is to arm teachers. Not fewer guns, but more…and in the hands of people who, as a group, are least likely to want to own or brandish weapons.
A Rand report looked at the pros and cons of arming teachers, and a fair reading suggested that gun manufacturers would experience the only “pro”–more sales of weapons. (Just what we need….) The relevant paragraph:
Arguments against arming teachers and school resource officers highlight the elevated risk of accidents and negligent use of firearms as more adults in schools are armed. The Associated Press reported, for instance, that there were more than 30 incidents between 2014 and 2018 that involved a firearm brought to a school by a law enforcement officer or that involved a teacher improperly discharging or losing control of a weapon (Penzenstadler, Foley, and Fenn, 2017). This compares with around 20 active-shooter attacks at schools over a comparable period (Cai and Patel, 2019). When even trained police officers have been found to successfully hit their intended targets in just 18 percent of incidents involving an exchange of gunfire (Rostker et al., 2008), critics question whether teachers can be expected to effectively return fire without inadvertently injuring the children they mean to protect (Vince, Wolfe, and Field, 2015). Finally, if teachers are holding guns or engaged in gunfire, it may make the job of law enforcement officers more difficult and dangerous when they arrive at the scene. Officers could mistake the teacher for an active shooter or could themselves be inadvertently shot by the teacher.
If silly things like evidence mattered to today’s GOP, we have mountains of it. I’m not going to bore you with links to the years of studies demonstrating the idiocy of America’s current gun culture–a google search will bring up more research than most of us want or need to read. The Republican mantra, on this issue as with so many, many others is: “don’t confuse me with the facts,” so marshaling those facts and using them as the basis of an argument is doomed before it begins.
The United States is the only modern country where mass murders are a routine experience. (I once met with a delegation from an African country that had only recently emerged from a bloody civil conflict, and was embarrassed to learn that the members of that delegation feared more for their lives on American streets than they had during their own civil unrest. They’d watched the shoot-em-up movies glorifying violence, and read the media reports about our routine carnage…)
Like so many others, I am bone-tired of writing about this insanity. Back in 2017, in a more analytic, less furious mode, I wrote:
There are 300 million guns in this country. We aren’t going to get rid of them–couldn’t if we tried. Furthermore, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible people–hunters, sportsmen, people hoping to protect their homes. It’s true that a significant number of the 30,000 plus gun deaths in America each year involve those responsible owners: suicides, domestic abuse, children accidentally shooting themselves or others. These deaths are tragic, but I’d draw an analogy to highway deaths–we don’t ban or confiscate cars because they can be lethal.
If we continue with the car analogy, however, there are lessons to be learned. We don’t let just anyone drive; in order to get a license you must pass a test. Your license can be revoked if you repeatedly break the rules. Academics study traffic deaths and issue recommendations for making our roadways safer–and legislatures, by and large, take those recommendations seriously. With guns, Congress has prohibited government from funding research on gun violence, and state lawmakers are constantly attacking and rolling back even the most reasonable firearm regulations. Congress even refused to pass a measure that would have prohibited individuals on the no-fly list–-people with demonstrable connections to ISIS–from owning guns.
The history and interpretation of the Second Amendment has been twisted beyond recognition. If self-proclaimed “originalists” are really interested in the original meaning of the Amendment (I have my doubts), they might find this explanation by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens edifying.
I don’t know whether our legislative “gun nuts” are really as ideological and twisted as they seem (speaking of mental illness…), or whether–undoubtedly like Cruz–just deep in the pocket of the gun lobby.
And I don’t know how or where this ends.