We keep hearing from people about how we should have a discussion about guns, especially in light of the recent shooting in South Florida. Here are my thoughts:
Whenever we wish to address a hazardous situation, there are two categories of response: Prevention of an even that has not yet happened, and mitigation of an event that is occurring or has occurred.
1 The FBI had multiple warnings that this particular individual was about to carry out an attack. At least two people had contacted the FBI’s “If you see something, say something” tip line, and the FBI admits that they dropped the ball. The FBI made the same mistake with respect to the Boston Marathon bombers. Any time a shooting or other event like this occurs, there should be an independent investigation. If it is found that a government employee failed to follow procedures in chasing down or investigating a tip lead, or other evidence that would have prevented the event, and that failure results in a loss of life should be terminated and lose all retirement benefits. If it turns out that the procedures themselves were deficient, then the head of that government agency should be forced to resign.
2 Government agencies that fail to add prohibited persons to the NICS database should be terminated. Let’s enforce the laws as written. If we aren’t going to do that, we might as well repeal them.
3 Ever since we closed the mental hospitals, we have had problems dealing with the people who have problems: they are now filling our jails, our emergency rooms, and our homeless camps. We need to address the mentally ill people. Simply ignoring them is not solving the problem. This will likely cost gobs of money, so is not likely to happen.
4 Gun Control: There are between 400 and 600 million firearms in the US. Making guns illegal is not going to happen. Even if it did, you are never going to get even a sizable fraction of them. Additionally, in order to confiscate them, you will need to compensate the people you take them from for the fair value of the weapon, because of the takings clause of the 5th Amendment.
5 Banning so-called “assault weapons:” This is not going to happen, either. The AR15 is the most popular rifle in America, making up a quarter of all long gun sales in the US. Americans have been buying over one million of these rifles each year since 2007. It is estimated that more than 40 million of them are in American homes.
6 Access control: Every school needs to have a fence that would require would be entrants to pass through a control point. If you cannot control who enters the school, you are asking for trouble. Shooters, kidnappers, pedophiles, all of them want access to your kids. Why make it easy for them?
7 Magnetometers and xray machines: I have heard people ask for these, but I don’t think it is practical for a number of reasons. There are 1800 students and another 150 staff members at my school. In order to get everyone through the line in a reasonable amount of time, you would need 2 or 3 of them, with people to staff them. Those people would need to be armed. In Florida, that means they have to be cops, because no one but cops can be armed in Florida schools. The cost for three magnetometers plus the cops to staff them would be about $12,000 for the machines, plus about $600,000 in staffing costs. Per school. My county has 63 schools, meaning a cost of about $38.5 million for the first year. Will taxpayers want to pay an additional $1,000 a year in property taxes?
1 Shooters select schools because they know that all of the people inside are unarmed and schools have no access control.
For starters, put a fence around the school so that no one can enter or exit during the school day without going through the office.
My school has only one police officer on duty. We cannot afford to have more, we can barely afford to buy textbooks. Instead, a low cost solution is to change state law to allow teachers to be armed if they meet certain criteria:
1 They volunteer to take a class on the proper use of force to protect the school. We as teachers train on everything else, why not something useful?
2 pass the same marksmanship test as police officers.
3 They carry their weapon in a retention holster, to prevent a student from grabbing the weapon
Of the 18 staff members in my building, there are three teachers who are either former military or former public safety. One is a retired cop. In fact, more than 15% of our staff are either veterans or former emergency responders. Why not let us protect your children as we educate them?
The law as it stands does not allow anyone but police to carry guns at schools, not even security guards. This ensures that a killer will likely be facing defenseless victims. What we have been doing, trying to create gun free zones and telling kids to hide as a shooter enters campus without so much as a fence preventing him from entering the classroom isn’t working. Let’s try something different.