I Think the NRA is Missing Something with this “National Model School Shield Program” Thing

2 Apr

On December 14, 2012 I walked into the laundry mat near my house and was faced with the same gruesome news report that people all over the country, the world even, were greeted with: the deaths of 20 first graders and 6 educators at the hands of a 20-year-old man suffering from a mental disorder who then, as is the norm it seems, killed himself.  And all this after he had put a bullet in his mother’s head. It was horrific.  It was one of those days that really just makes you wonder what is wrong people that they are capable of such atrocities.  It makes you question the idea of ever having children if having them means they will to enter a world in which this sort of event happens.  It was heartbreaking and nauseating and continues to be so today, 3 1/2 months after the event itself.  It also spurred those words that I have begun to hate so much for their lack of meaning:  never again.  It’s almost like that’s the thing politicians have to say to make the public believe they are actually going to aggressively go after an issue, and the comment they can reflect back on when they try to convince themselves and the country that their completely impotent, sorry excuses for policies that in reality do absolutely nothing were worth the months of useless, partisan conversation we had to endure.  And so here we are again.

I honestly am at a loss today.  I have reflected back on Newtown and the idea that maybe we need to consider the state of our mental health infrastructure and the way in which we have been raising our boys here.  And then I talked a little bit about gun control legislation here.  And so now today I am going to do what I should have done months ago when Wayne LaPierre made a statement regarding Newtown following a week of complete and total silence from the NRA. (Silence which, by the way, he claimed was out of respect for the victims and their families but really, I would venture to make a guess, has more to do with benefiting the NRA than anything else.) For those of you who aren’t masochistic and didn’t listen to the entire press conference the day it was given, and for those of you who can’t, or won’t read the complete transcript I linked above, I will give you a series of small quotes from which you can glean the basic gist:

“How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?… We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security…The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…. With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school?… I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.”

Okay.  So, we all laughed and we all thought he was crazy, but in the back of our minds we were thinking, well, I was thinking anyway, what if this idea gets some traction?  What if people actually think this is reasonable?  And, surprise!  Today the New York Times published an article entitled “Under Heavy Security, N.R.A Details School Guards Plan.”  This plan is a 225-page document full of proposals to improve school security, including the suggestion by LaPierre —  who, by the way, was not present at the press conference — to have security stationed at schools.  At this conference, for “safety,” was a bomb-sniffing yellow lab and a dozen officers in both plain clothes and uniform, one of which admonished photographers to “remain stationary” until the press conference was over.  (Sounds to me like a little paranoia if I’m being completely honest.)  Is this what they want for our schools? Is this what they want for our students?  For our children?  I think that even in the effort to theoretically make our children more safe, the presence of all of this fire power and all of this assumption of danger makes for a slightly scarier, more sinister learning environment.

But let’s just say that we say, yes!  Let’s put guns in the schools!  But then we would have to ask the smart Mr. LaPierre where all that money would come from.  It’s true, the US does spend a considerable amount of money, about $50 billion annually, on foreign aid.  And guess what countries receive the lion’s share of aid.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Mexico and Columbia.  Thinking about what we have put those countries through in the last decade or so with our preemptive actions and our wars on drugs, we owe them a few billion easy.  And all the money in the federal budget? I’m pretty sure we’re actually in a situation where we have to decrease our budget by something like $1.6 trillion.  In order to do that do you know what’s getting cut?  Are we significantly going to cut our defense budget?  Are we going to raise taxes considerably on the richest Americans?  Are we going to deal with the expensive and unfair add-ons to so many bills that make their ways through congress?  I’d venture a guess and say no.  What we are going to do is cut down on social spending.  We’re going to pull money out of welfare, infrastructure, Medicare and Medicaid, the US Postal Service and, you guessed it, education.  So then what are we supposed to do?  Not buy new books, cut teacher’s salaries, get rid of free busing?  Or are we going to put it on the school district itself to decide whether and how to employ these security guards at schools?  And if we do that, what happens is that the wealthiest neighborhoods that, normally, don’t experience violence on a regular basis are going to have security guards and schools in neighborhoods in places like Chicago’s south side,* districts that lose students to shootings every single year, will likely go without.  So if we do go ahead and support this plan, which I personally think is an insultingly obvious play by the NRA to increase its own power and revenue, what we will end up with is a ridiculously classist and racist band-aid response to an issue that really should have spurred an assault weapons ban, a limit on magazine size, a discussion about mental health in this country, an understanding of how our gendered approach to, well, everything is incredibly damaging to both men and women and how our capitalist system has resulted in an incredibly individualistic culture that just exacerbates all the problems I just listed.

Or we can just take the easy way out and do absolutely nothing of any significance, like usual.  Never again my ass.

*Probably some schools in this neighborhood actually do have security given the recent history of gun violence in the area but a very brief search on the topic yielded no definitive information.  The point is that if the onus of responsibility for providing armed security lies on the schools, then many schools with less available funds will opt not to provide it.  For those that do, it necessarily means that the money has to come from somewhere else.  Schools in inner city areas, ie schools in areas with lower property values and therefore lower taxes, tend to have lots more students and much less funding than public schools like the one I went to in New Jersey, and so if they do opt for security the money that they do allocate for that purpose has a bigger impact because there was no extra money to begin with.  So access to money for, well, teaching significantly decreases.

4 Responses to “I Think the NRA is Missing Something with this “National Model School Shield Program” Thing”

  1. aeroplaneoversea April 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I just have to leave a comment now because I’m on Bolt bus passing by Newtown RIGHT NOW! Heh. Creepy =/

  2. Marissa Palmerton April 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Amen…you just summed up all if my thoughts towards this issue. Now what can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen??

    Sent from my iPhone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: