After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School this past Friday, I wrote a blog
decrying the nation's romantic attachment to firearms. Velveeta followed on Sunday
discussing mental health care and the morons who blame "lack of God in the classroom". Raine tied it together
on Monday describing the problem this nation has with proactively dealing with the kind of mental health problems that lead to these nightmares.
As the president said in his address to the residents of Newtown, CT, the causes are complex, and the solutions will be as well. It will likely be a combination of training school personnel to be proactive in dealing with children that are on the path to a mental breakdown, ensuring that mental health treatments are covered by insurance, educating the public that mental health problems are just that - not weakness, and yes - stricter gun regulations.
Naturally, there are the gun nuts who think any
regulation is one too many. They have suggested arming teachers, an idea which seems ludicrous to anyone that doesn't think more guns are the solution. Having had a few days to consider it, I've reached several conclusions why this is a bad idea:
- There's an assumption that teachers *want* to be armed. What if no teacher at that school wanted to carry a gun?
- Having guns in a classroom with a distracted harried teacher and lots of curious kids sounds like a recipe for disaster.
- There's the assumption that the instincts of the teacher would be to grab the gun rather than corral the kids and get them into a safe position.
- There's the assumption that a person (ANY person) whose training consisted of target practice within the safe confines of a target range is going to be able to shoot at another human being while being shot at. Soldiers go through "live fire" training for a reason. Even police have to overcome the natural inclination to run from gunfire. A teacher? Not likely.
- Finally - I have to wonder what other tragedy could occur with a teacher lying in wait in a classroom of kids, waiting for that gunman to come through the door. What if it's another teacher, or a first-responder and the teacher shoots them in a panic? What if a SWAT team member comes through the door and sees the teacher with a gun and assumes it's the killer? This has disaster written all over it.
I've shared on facebook a photo that's going around that says "If a child hits another child with a rock, the solution is NOT for every child to have a rock". It seems so simple. It's kind of the basis for reigning in the arms race back in the Cold War days. With everyone armed, all it takes is one flared temper and suddenly the rocks are flying.
President Dwight Eisenhower once said "The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without
". Such is the problem with spending money on weapons and training - at some point, you lose track of what it is you're trying to protect - the innocence of the children.
President Eisenhower had another famous quote: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed
". All the money spent on training and guns and armed guards could be spent on mental health care to proactively prevent another massacre.
There's another very real theft, though that happens every time a shooting occurs at a school: the theft of our country's future. All those bright candles snuffed out before they had a chance to shine their light on humanity. What if one had grown up and found a cure for cancer? What if one had grown up and written a song that brought comfort to millions? What if one had grown up to become a teacher and pass on that beautiful gift of knowledge and inspiration and motivation? What if one had grown up to become a leader that bridged the chasms between right and left, between Christian and Muslim, between fear and hope?
Where would our world be today if Martin Luther King Jr had been killed in his elementary school? What about Ghandi or Abraham Lincoln?
The National Review wrote
that these incidents are the price we have to pay for the 2nd Amendment. If that is the case, then the price is too high. Already half of our national budget goes toward the military, despite the lack of credible foes prepared to attack us. To ask that we spend more capital, more lives, and the future of our country to protect an antiquated notion is too much to bear. We are destroying that which we are trying to protect.