Protect our rights with a police state?

My colleague Mark Mitchell feels some cognitive dissonance with the NRA’s response to gun violence in schools:

NRA president Wayne LaPierre called for a new initiative to place policemen in every school in America. It’s curious that in attempting to defend one right, the consequence is a dramatically increased police force. While I am doubtful that limiting the sale of certain guns will have any dramatic impact of gun violence, it is disappointing (though perhaps not surprising) that the best the NRA leadership can do is propose more policemen. And why stop at one policeman per school? With the size of many public schools, one police officer is simply inadequate. An officer in every hall might be a better plan. In short, we need a police state to protect our right to own all the guns we want? That’s the best idea the NRA has?

via NRA Proposes More Policemen | Front Porch Republic.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • The Jones

    The more I think about it, the less of a crazy idea it is. There are already armed police officers in many schools, and many other schools (including those at which I have taught) have one shared resource officer that splits time between them. And if you are going to have a “gun-free zone,” a common-sense idea is to have at least one person there who can protect the rest if somebody decides to break that rule. I have read news reports where teachers with weapons in their cars have stopped shooters, so it’s not completely crazy.

    But I didn’t like the idea as a panacea to school shootings, because there is no panacea. But it could be (and actually already is) one measure that can be taken. Personally, I think the whole “gun free zone” idea should be scrapped, not because I want every teacher to pack heat when they go to school, but because I don’t want that information advertised to someone who wants to shoot the place up. It’s always better to keep that information under wraps.

  • Paul Reed

    Conservative leadership has become so limp-wristed that these are the responses we can expect to get. An honest statement would look something like this: Unless you want a police state that takes every last gun, you’re going to have to expect every now and then for some crazy person to go on a rampage. And even if the crazy person can’t get a gun, they could easily construct a bomb. We live in fallen world, and such is life.

    Or maybe, I don’t know, talk about the removal of God for the public schools? Perhaps if the shooter hadn’t been taught there was no God and no objective moral standard. Such talk would be honest, but would be too harsh for it’s feminized listeners.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    The media makes these murdering nuts into celebrities.

    Having armed guards and some armed teachers on campuses is a good idea. It might save many lives.

  • Steve Bauer

    @ 1
    If every teacher is packing heat how can that information not be known?

    @2
    So this is the situation–either we have a nation in which everyone has the right to “choose to own any weapon they darn well please” or we have a police state that takes every last gun. Period. End of Discussion. An armed citizenry meting out death based on each person’s own interests is SO much better than a police state.

    How’s this for logic:
    You’re going to have to expect every now and then for some priests to go on a rampage. And even if there are no small boys to molest, they can always rape a parishoner. We live in a fallen world and such is life.

    On the other hand, I wonder how many people die from auto accidents each year compared to gun violence. All you have to do to drive a vehicle capable of killing is have the money to buy one (and hopefully insurance) and pass a government administered test. Why are people dying from auto “accidents” less disconcerting than people dying from guns? Are we working with a different definition of “accident” in relation to automobiles as opposed to guns?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I as a teacher would love to be armed. If you have to call 911, it’s too late.

    As far as the “loose cannon” theory of people going on rampages, I don’t see cops doing this–and I’ve met more than one cop with a little mental instability.

  • Cincinnatus

    I think Mark Mitchell’s complaint has less to do with the most effective means of preventing school shootings and much more to do with our increasingly contradictory understanding of rights.

    In the American/classically liberal context, rights such as those provided in the Second Amendment were understood as “negative” rights: they represent an absence of state or other coercive influence. I can speak freely–because the government does not hinder my space to do so. I can bear arms and defend my own family–because the government allows me to do so, and doesn’t take up arms against me. I can worship however I please–because the government does not extend its reach into the realm of conscience.

    And so on. Obviously, the implicit premise here is that, in order for negative rights to exist, the government must be small enough not to pose a threat to those rights. Of course, the government exists solely to protect those rights, but the government must nonetheless be sufficiently minimal not to encroach upon them, as it will inevitably do given the opportunity. As the old proverb goes, a government big enough to give you certain rights is big enough to take them away.

    The irony to which Mitchell directs our attention is that we now seem to believe that the government must be ever bigger and ever stronger to protect our formerly negative rights. If the Second Amendment is at stake, the answer, according to the NRA, is clearly to arm countless government agents and ensure that their coercive presence is felt even more closely in our daily lives. If terrorists threaten our fundamental rights, clearly the answer is for the state to increase its scope and limit our rights to privacy, speech, and fair trial.

    So the logic goes, yes? The question of whether armed guards in every schoolroom would prevent a certain proportion of mass murders is beside the point in this case.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 6
    That’s how I read his article as well. In fact, my thought is that as long as public school is a large bureaucratic institution warehousing large numbers of kids, teachers and administrators in centrally located sites we shouldn’t be surprised it takes more government power to provide protection. The government has co-opted large swaths of education for so long that educational institutions are de facto arms of the government. I find it no more surprising that it might be necessary to provide armed protection at schools than at offices where civilians support the military and intelligence establishment. The presence of children makes it jarring and more than a little sad – but there is a certain logic to it.

  • helen

    We have money to fund another national police force
    but we can’t afford treatment for mental illness?

    [And heaven forbid we should teach positive
    morals and values, instead of "Do it if it feels good!"]

  • DonS

    I’m with Dr. Mitchell on this one. Most big city high schools and some big city jr. high schools already have a police presence, and that is probably appropriate in those environments. But to put a police officer in every elementary school in the country would be a ridiculous expansion of our police state and an unaffordable expense. Police officers, with their pay, benefits, and full pensions starting at age 50 or so, can cost up to $200,000 per year per officer. That’s a lot of money to take out of the classroom on a routine, universal basis.

    Armed security guards, which can be contracted for far less than the expense of a police officer, could be an option in some situations. But mostly, the idea of a “gun-free” zone is a stupid one, as has been said above. A gunman invading the campus knows that he will face no armed opposition. Probably almost every school has at least one staff member who is comfortable with guns. Allowing them to safely store guns on campus, so that they may be available to potentially stop a mad gunman, seems like the most logical and fiscally sound alternative.

  • Joe

    i’m stuck in the filter – help!


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