The head of the National Rifle Association today explained that the only sure way to keep schools safe is by filling our kid’s hallways, libraries and cafeterias with armed guards. Gun-free zones like schools, he observed, “tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to effect maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” That’s the reason random shootings have become a sad reality in schoolyards across the country but not at police stations, military bases or gun shows.
Except for places like Detroit’s Sixth Precinct, where last year a 38 year old man with apparently no motive opened fire with a shotgun and seriously wounded four officers. Or police stations like the one in suburban Deerfield, Michigan, where a 64 year old man, again with no known grievance against the police, began blasting away at the cops there with a handgun just last month. And don’t forget the Johnston, Pennsylvania, police who were attacked this fall by a shotgun wielding assailant, another “lone gunman” type. Fortunately none of these shooters had assault weapons or high capacity ammo clips.
The mere presence of guns doesn’t seem to deter madmen. It may incite them. Mayhem broke out in a gun store on the west side of Indianapolis this fall when a 26 year old man was killed after beginning to shoot at store employees. And of course, mass shootings on military compounds like the one at Fort Hood, where a uniformed psychiatrist killed 13 and wounded 29 are no isolated incidents. Another “loner” armed with a MAK-90 combat rifle murdered 5 and wounded 22 at the Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington, in 1994.
Do guns guarantee safety? My wife, a criminal defense attorney, is accustomed to being searched for weapons each time she enters the court room. The only person with a firearm in the room is the policeman on duty, there to guarantee public safety. Ironically, the only time public safety has ever been threatened was when some criminal grabbed the cop’s gun and started to shoot. This has happened more than once over the course of her career.
The NRA’s argument that more firepower makes us more secure just doesn’t stand up to the facts. Instead of arming the teachers, guidance counselors, hall monitors and lunch ladies, it’s time for sensible gun control.