"Such as do build their faith upon
Holy text of pike and gun."
-- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, pt.I
The NRA showed the importance of a thoughtful response to the tragic events in Newtown by maintaining a respectful silence until December 21, 2012 when it sent its beloved Wayne LaPierre to meet the press. Earlier in the week the organization had issued a compassionate response saying: "[W]e were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." The full investigation to which the NRA referred took one week since exactly one week after the murders Mr. LaPierre held a press conference.
At the press conference Mr. LaPierre offered a solution to the problem of mass slaughters in schools that was radically different from others that had been heard. He suggested that all schools should have armed guards in place to protect the students. This was a creative solution that no one else had proposed.
According to the Center for Education Reform, as of 2010 there were 132,656 K-12 schools in the United States. 5,714 charter schools, 28,220 private schools, and 7,400 Catholic schools for a total of 173,990 schools needing protection. At this point it is impossible to know how many armed guards each school would need. There are probably no school buildings that have only one door and large schools have many doors. For this discussion we can assume that each school could limit the number of open entrances to five and thus only five guards would be needed for each school. Of course if one fears a gunman who shoots through a locked door as happened in Newtown, many more would be needed. Ignoring that, however, a force of 869,950-armed guards would be required.
The need for security at 2-year, 4-year and non-degree granting colleges is no less than the need for security in K-12 schools, as the Virginia Tech massacre, among others, demonstrated. According to the National Center for Education Statistics there were 11,237 such institutions in the year 2009-2010. Since many of those institutions have scores of buildings with many entrances it is impossible to know how many armed guards will be required but it is safe to assume it is at least as many as would be required for K-12 schools. Thus, the total needed to protect all educational institutions in the country would be a least 2 million armed guards and probably considerably more. Although the NRA has addressed only educational institutions, it would surely agree that there should be armed guards in all movie theaters in the country and, given the recent shooting in a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, at all shopping malls. When fully implemented, our security will be guaranteed by local militia comprising at a minimum 4 to 5 million armed citizens, a militia two to three times as large as the armed forces. We won't need more guns, however, since there are already in excess of 300 million guns owned by safety-minded individuals in the United States. With the militia in place there will be no need for them in the home and they can, and probably will, be donated to the newly created militia by owners happy to obtain a charitable deduction on their taxes for their donations.
Some may wonder who is going to pay for such a militia. The cost of the militia will be paid by school districts, (and indirectly by the taxpayers) and in the case of other venues, the proprietors of the protected properties will pay and pass the cost on to their customers.
As soon as the foregoing has been fully implemented there will almost certainly be no more slaughters in the protected venues. Of course, there will be the occasional exception such as the shooting at the Columbine school where notwithstanding the protection provided by two policemen guarding the school, 12 students and one teacher were killed and 21 students were injured.
The new United States will still suffer the occasional casual death attributable to the gun. During the 12 days following the Newtown shooting 222 deaths in the United States were attributed to guns and that is not unusual. The average number of people killed in the United States each day through gun related activities is 24. That is an unfortunate fact that the NRA proposal does not address (except insofar as gun owners donate their weapons to the militia) but it does not detract from the merit of its proposal. Instead of carping, we should all be grateful to the NRA for offering a solution that insures that all of us who don't accidentally get killed by the rogue gun or by being participants in a slaughter notwithstanding the presence of armed guards, can look forward to long, peaceful lives.
Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com