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Why do we allow our children to go unprotected?

December 27, 2012

I’ve been listening to this tempest in a teapot bit about statements made by Rep. Louie Gohmert and NRA President Wayne LaPierre advocating having armed security in our schools. It just doesn’t make sense to argue this point, at least to me.

I taught for 26 years at a high school that had unarmed security personnel, and an armed “police liaison officer” – an officer from the local police department – in the building every day. The building is locked down during the day with only one open entrance. (The fact that it is completely open before 8 AM and after 3 PM is another point for another day.) It’s kept kind of quiet, but all the kids know about the security people in the building.

However, there are lots and lots of schools all over the US without any kind of dedicated security force. No matter why the gunman in the Sandy Hook school was there, whether he was mentally unstable, or what ever, the fact remains that the children in that school were unprotected.

There are security guards, some armed and some unarmed, in shopping malls, banks, office buildings, hospitals, parking structures, and all sorts of other facilities all over the US. Why do we think that putting a sign up that a local school is a “gun free zone” matters to anyone? It’s like those cities that declared themselves “nuclear free zones” during the Cold War. I’m sure the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces looked at those targeting maps and said, “We had better not target that city! It’s in a nuclear free zone!”

Obviously, having one armed (and trained) employee in an elementary school isn’t a complete deterrent, but it gives them a fighting chance. It also is a deterrent at least to some degree – if I was a crazed gunman I would probably go to a school known to have lighter security if I really wanted to do something horrible. (This of course disregards those deranged individuals looking to commit suicide by cop.)

But the folks mentioned above were mocked by the left when they said they though more armed security would be good for schools. I know one of their thin arguments is that when there is a gun available, someone could potentially get hurt. But I still say it gives our kids a fighting chance, and I would feel better knowing that my granddaughters attended a school with a security guard, or more than one. (I don’t know if their school has one or not.)

I don’t own a gun. However, I grew up next door to Camp Perry, where the National Rifle and Pistol Matches have been held for over a century. I learned how to shoot there one summer, and later in the Boy Scouts. Most of what we learned was safety, not marksmanship. I may not own a gun, but I have a good idea how to handle one safely even after all these years, and I have a healthy respect for what they can do – just as a do for a chain saw, or any other potentially dangerous tool. Many thousands of people who don’t own a gun aren’t afraid of them, or of those who own them. Yet talk about putting an armed person in a school to protect our kids and people go nuts. I don’t understand it.

The reason for the second amendment to the US Constitution is simple: at the time of the Revolution, the British Government wanted to keep regular folks in the American colonies from being able to rise up in revolution. The best way to do that was to take away their guns. If your security force has guns, and no one else does, it’s pretty simple who is going to be controlling whom. Back in the 18th century a gun was not just for protection – probably very few ever fired a gun in defense or in anger – but it was essential for protection against animals and was an important way to put food on the table. The Framers knew that a “well regulated”  – as in well-organized, not as heavily-restricted – militia was important to the defense of the cities and towns in the US. The US Army didn’t really exist, not as a security force, and local militias had been instrumental in tipping the US Revolution in the colonists’ favor. Private ownership of firearms and organization at the local level of those gun owners were thought to be important deterrents against outside aggression.

Remember, the Spanish, British and French still had colonies in North America, and the security of the new USA couldn’t be achieved with “border control” with the wide-open frontiers to the west, north, and south. Towns were responsible for their own protection. They needed the ability to protect themselves – no US Army to roll in with tanks and aircraft for protection. Read some history of the War of 1812. The defense of the US was very, very difficult in those days. Every able-bodied man was part of the defense force for his home and country.

This is why the ownership of guns in Switzerland is so important. That country, throughout its history, could be overrun by any of its larger neighbors. The only way the country could defend itself was (and is) at the local level. The topography of the country and a trained, armed populace make it a difficult place to take by any aggressor.

We have a lot of people here in the US who were carefully trained in gun safety and use by the US military. We call them veterans. Many are out of work. Putting some of them to work in our schools – people who know what a real threat is and how to deal with it – sounds like a good idea to me.

But it’s not about that. You see, if we can take guns away from the general population, the government is the only group with guns. (Okay, and the gangs.) Should the government decide to push things, we have no recourse. We are unprotected. More and more Federal agencies have paramilitary arms and many are not afraid to break into a business or a home because of some violation or another. Really, did the Fish and Wildlife Service need to break into Gibson Guitars to seize what they believed were “illegal woods” used in guitar manufacture? Where was the clear and present danger?

I would prefer to have our last line of defense against a Federal government gone wild not be the 12th Street Players or the Vice Lords. I would like to think the government wouldn’t go so far as to imprison those who disagree with them, but what ever happened to that guy in California who did the video that supposedly touched off the demonstrations in the Middle East that led to the killings in Benghazi?

“But our well-regulated militia is the National Guard. They can have guns, but people shouldn’t have them in their homes.” Not so, grasshopper. That wasn’t how militias were set up, and the members kept their firearms in their homes. And we still should be able to. That’s crux of the problem, and those who whine that we are putting our kids in danger if we allow an armed security guard in their schools are just useful idiots for those with much darker motives.

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