Pass Out the Pistols

In a memorable episode of “All in the Family” Archie takes to the airwaves to deliver his opinions on gun control, which, as you would expect, are decidedly negative. But what made his appearance on TV so ridiculous was his solution to airline hijackings: arm all the passengers. At the time such a proposal was understood to be so outlandish that it transcended debate. Archie’s idea was patently foolish and everyone in the audience knew it.

Now, however, following another mass shooting last week, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, some have proposed a similar solution to a societal ill: arm the teachers (or hire professionally-trained armed hall monitors). Trump made his case for arming some teachers and giving them bonuses for doing so, and then channeled the NRA (or perhaps the porn industry), declaring, “You want a hardened school, and I want a hardened school, too.”

Here are the reasons why it won’t catch on.

There are about 90,000 elementary schools in the U.S. and another 22,000 high schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school systems employed about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers in the fall of 2017. Although the NRA would have multiple consecutive orgasms if school districts around the country went on a bender to purchase guns for millions of teachers, is it really feasible to outfit, train and compensate such a large, inexperienced group in the finer points of handling weapons and shooting humans? And what about the cost? Will taxpayers passively accept the inevitable hike in taxes to fund such a program?

Perhaps some schools will opt to hire armed guards. For all intents and purposes this would constitute a serious increase in payroll – on the order of tens of thousands of new employees taking paychecks, paid vacations, health benefits and pensions. I’m sure that will go over well with fixed-income seniors who shoulder a good chunk of the school tax burden.

Add to the expense of arming and training teachers to pack heat the inevitable increase in the costs of insurance. Insurance companies don’t care one way or the other about such things as Second Amendments – they only care about one thing: risk. And a school full of teachers in possession of guns is at higher risk for disaster than one that is free from weaponry. You can guarantee that on a daily basis some teachers around the country will leave their guns unattended in an unlocked desk to be pilfered by wily students. Will the next mass shooting take place with a gun stolen from a teacher? You can also guarantee that in the course of a school year dozens of teachers will accidentally discharge weapons, perhaps with tragic results.

Here is a cop lecturing students about gun safety. If it can happen to him . . .

Insurance companies will not like this, and push up premiums accordingly – to the consternation of taxpayers, many of whom are no doubt pro-gun.
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I think it’s also realistic to worry about the effect of false positives. How many people will be shot by armed teachers who mistakenly perceive a mass shooting threat? It’s a very real concern knowing how many people have been shot and killed by police who mistook a cell phone for a gun. It’s easy to imagine a teacher pulling a pistol on a distraught student when in the past he would have taken a subtler approach as an unarmed counselor. And it’s easy to image multi-million dollar lawsuits brought by grieving parents prevailing in court – and the subsequent increase in taxes and insurance premiums to cover the penalties.

Now consider the mind of a would-be mass shooter. It’s well-known that many mass shooters desire to go out in a blaze of glory by so-called “suicide by cop.” Will the presence of an armed professional roaming the hallways actually attract mass shooters? A middle-aged former cop sitting at a desk with a rifle just might make the mass shooting all the more daring – just what a warped teenager on a death wish might hope for.

But if it works is it worth doing? Would the presence of armed adults in a school stop or cut short an armed assault? Columbine High School employed an armed guard, and his involvement was obviously limited, as two armed students successfully massacred more than a dozen kids. Scot Peterson, the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to Stoneman Douglas where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, according to the Broward County sheriff.

So much for counting on the good guy with a gun.

If the NRA was the lobbying arm for the auto industry

  • Cars would not have airbags, or seatbelts, or shatterproof glass, or any other safety features that add unnecessary costs (or give the impression there is something dangerous about cars.)
  • Anyone could own and drive a car anywhere they want to. And they wouldn’t be required to register it.
  • Reckless driving would be blamed on mental illness.
  • Drunk drivers would not lose their licenses to drive, because there would be no such thing as a license to drive.
  • Auto makers would never recall a vehicle because they would be immune from lawsuits over shoddy construction.
  • After every pile-up on the freeway, word would go out that the government wants to take away your car. You would then go out and buy two more cars.
  • The best way to deal with bad drivers would be for good drivers to run them off the road.
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