Pattye Benson

Community Matters

NRA Statement: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”

In advance of today’s statement, The National Rifle Association stated that the organization would offer “meaningful contributions to help make sure that this never happens again.” In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, I was hopeful that the NRA would nudge national laws toward making it hard to gain access to some semi-automatic weapons, such as the one used last week. I was hopeful that the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary might trigger a change in the NRA’s policy toward gun control.

Unfortunately, the olive branch of compromise was not what the NRA had in mind. The NRA broke their week-long silence with a statement read by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre that calls for guns at every school in America. While the President is calling on Congress to act on gun control legislation, LaPierre believes that the only effective way to protect our schoolchildren is with “properly trained armed good guys”.

Echoing the sentiments of some Community Matters commentators, LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” adding, “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away?” Others have argued on Community Matters, that rather than banning guns, the government should be arming teachers and administrators in schools so that they can defend students in the event of another school shooting.

LaPierre’s words scoffed at the notion that banning semi-automatic weapons or enacting gun control laws could stop school violence. Instead, he cast blame for gun violence in schools on the violence of video games and movies.

The NRA statement did nothing to address the problem of the availability of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Although the weapons used by the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary were legal, one-third or more of gun sales remain unregulated in the secondary market, which includes not only the gun show loophole but also private sales between individuals. NRA … why not address establishing a system of comprehensive background checks for gun purchasers?

The spirits of the twenty children killed last week will haunt us all this holiday season. It is unbelievable that the NRA’s response to the Sandy Hill tragedy is to arm more Americans. According to the NRA, the most effective way to protect against another horror like last week’s school shooting is … more guns.

The NRA’s failure to consider any meaningful gun regulations is offensive and is no way to honor the memories of the twenty-eight lives lost last week.


A couple of related gun and school safety items:

Alan Thomas, Main Line Media News, spoke with Tredyffrin’s Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo on the procedure for turning in a gun to the police department, read ‘Turning in a gun, how it’s done” for details. According to Giaimo, to date for 2012, there have been 6 guns turned in, none of which were assault weapons.

In response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, the T/E School District has scheduled a ‘Community Meeting on School Safety’ for Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7 PM at the Valley Forge Middle School auditorium. The meeting will feature a panel of experienced safety experts including representatives from the Tredyffrin and Easttown police departments, District building architects and representatives from the District Safety Committee.

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  1. Well, I have considered all options – inclusive of considering a means (lethal or non-lethal) to allow teachers to stop an active shooter while waiting for police.

    I have also stated I would endorse an new AWB and limits to high cap mags, as well as one-gun-a-month and reporting lost and stolen firearms over on MLMN. I have stated I don’t see this accomplishing much, but I would support it regardless.

    I posted on MLMN first off before this discussion got going right after the shooting the need to address mental health care availability and doing away with the stigma associated with mental illness.

    I have been open minded and looked at both sides because I don’t take sides.

    I have views on the far left, the far right, the right, the left and the middle.

    I refuse to be pigeon-holed and to have follow the views of any one group or any one political party. For instance, just because I believe in a woman’s right to choose while disagreeing with Obama’s warmongering and illegal drone bombings of numerous countries (that kill many innocents), does not mean I will give up any of my values just to support one political party. That’s why I support neither.

    So if you are pointing a finger at me Pattye, excuse me for being open minded and looking at this from all sides without blinders on.

    I would suggest we need open minds on both sides of the debate, or nothing will get accomplished.

    I think you could have just as justifiably blasted the NRA without pointing fingers at those who contribute to your blog.

    1. politeia,

      I have appreciated your thoughtful remarks on CM. I’m sorry if you thought I was “pointing fingers”, absolutely not my intention. In this post I said, “Others have argued on Community Matters, that rather than banning guns, the government should be arming teachers and administrators in schools so that they can defend students in the event of another school shooting.”. This remark was not intended as some kind of indictment against the opinion of those contributing to CM!

      The political and social debate over the question of how much gun control is appropriate has been an extremely polarized one for several decades — we don’t have to look any further than CM comments as evidence of opposing views. We shouldn’t have been surprised by the NRA’s response to Sandy Hook anymore than the predictable reaction of the anti-gun crowd. The Constitution protects the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, just as voting is a civil right. Pew Research Center indicates only modest change in gun control opinion by the public following last Friday’s tragedy. I like to hope (and am encouraged by) our thoughtful discussion and debate and recognize that this issue has a way to go. Keeping all gun control and school safety options available, and continuing the discussion, is not only valuable, it’s necessary.

      Again my apologies for any misunderstanding with this post. I found the NRA statement troubling and disappointing; not the words of those who contribute to Community Matters. I truly mean it when I say, ‘your voice matters’!

      1. Thanks for the clarification, Pattye.

        I personally found the NRA statement to be callous, and did not want to be associated with its overall lack of sensitivity (IMO) to the issue.

        My concern has been first and foremost about school safety and protecting children.

        This is not a political issue for me, but it is unfortunately for many in this country and certainly for the politicians.

    2. Politiea/Pattye – Which of the gun control measures that you advocate did the NRA oppose in the statement today? I apologize, I only caught the first half of the press briefing – some uninvited guest with a sign and some shouting slowed the whole thing down…

  2. Feasibility and/or expense aside, how can you dispute that police or armed security at every school would not be the MOST effective way to prevent/minimize attacks like this in the future????

      1. I did not hear Mr. Lapierre suggest anything like arming teachers or administrators during the press conference. Did I miss it?

        1. Pattye – Okay, thanks for the clarification.

          Obviously my big take-away from the NRA today was that they advocate properly trained and equipped professionals in our schools – something I identified earlier. Makes sense to me, and it sounds like it might to you also – we will have to wait for comment from the others…. Hopefully Ray doesn’t hit me with his “bear spray”.

          So why did you find the NRA statements disappointing if you do not disagree with the main objective they identified to prevent and/or minimize attacks like this in the future??

          For the record, I think it is relevant to mention that I am not an NRA member, and never have been.

          1. My problem with the NRA statement was that it was about arming ourselves more, with offering no deterrents, such as banning semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, closing gun show loopholes, etc. I did not view the NRA statement as the “meaningful contribution” that they had promised. Since last Friday, it should have been obvious to the NRA that the public wants a national discussion about effective ways to prevent dangerous people access to military style assault weapons.


        2. The NRA will not support a ban of semi-autos, and neither would I. Again i point out that most of the people supporting a semi-auto ban couldn’t even explain or identify a semi-auto weapon or how it is different from a gun that is not semi-auto. You advocate the restriction of something you do not even understand – does that make sense? High capacity magazine ban? Reloading does not take that long (6 of one, half dozen of another) – that would be another totally ineffective restriction.

          The public does not want rational discussion, the public wants to cast blame and implement a simple fix. The rational public does not even understand the restriction that they advocate.

          What does “military style” mean to you? To me it means automatic weapons (the ones the “military” uses), of which i cannot ever remember hearing of automatic weapons being used by a civilian to harm anyone or commit any crime – they are already banned for civilian use! The “semi-auto” AR15 you want banned more closely resembles many commonly used hunting rifles than it does any “military style” weapon. The function nearly similar – the anti-gun folks just want to ban the way it looks! That is the absurdity of it.

          Take a look at this person’s ideas on the matter, she has lived a bit closer to the issue than you and I… Old testimony, but still very relevant today.

  3. Armed guards failed at Columbine.

    No way do I want to send my child to a school that requires armed guards, too prison-like. I cannot even comprehend that we could be talking about ‘armed’ teachers in our schools.

    The NRA statement offered no solutions, just pointed fingers. They blamed the media, video games, the movies, the president, … without any responsibility for easy gun access, etc.

  4. It appears most in this area would be in agreement they don’t want guns in schools for protection purposes.

    IF it were to happen, I don’t get the support of armed guards but not armed teachers.

    I certainly would prefer not having a teacher walking around all the time and teaching while armed.

    IF it were to happen, I’d store the defensive firearm in a safe where only a couple of highly trained volunteer teachers who have passed the same evaluations the police get and have ongoing training/psychological evaluations and drug testing have access.

    Would that be a prefect solution? No. No solutions from any angle you look at this are ideal.

    I’m not even offering up this right now as an actual solution.

    However, I have a conceptional question about where people are coming from?

    What I don’t get is the concept that a teacher (say ex-military with the right temperament) is somehow not to be trusted with access to a defensive firearm in a safe, but armed guards and the police somehow have magical powers to handle and use firearms?

    Most cops rarely fire their weapons and have a minimal requirement of qualifying twice a year with 50 rounds (varies by department). Some cops take it more seriously and shoot/train in their spare time which is great.

    I know a teacher who shoots IDPA competitively – which simulates defensive pistol scenarios. He has a Master rating and goes through thousands of rounds a year competing.

    Why would this highly firearms skilled and trained teacher not be qualified to have access to a gun in a safe, yet a rent-a-cop guard, because he wears a uniform and passed minimal firearms requirements and gets close to minimum wage is somehow super human with a firearm and is to be absolutely trusted?

    I understand the concept of arming teachers in any way will not pass the smell test for most on here, but I also don’t get the thought process that civilians with the proper temperament and training can’t be trusted with firearms?

    It seems that no gun (except that of an active shooter) should be in the school until the police arrive.

    What I think you get are different views from those who have never handled a firearm and those who have done so with some frequency.

    Thus, areas like the Main Line that don’t have the highest firearms ownership rates oppose guns in general, and certainly in schools.

    More rural Butler County is considering armed off-duty state police in their schools – which would get costly.

    No doubt a higher firearms ownership rate and a general acceptance that they are not taboo makes the decision a different one in Butler County.

  5. The NRA funds congress. It’s that simple. The gun manufacturers support/fund the NRA. Whenever someone points in another direction, it’s always to be sure you don’t look at them.
    Armed guards at schools. Ok. I’m in. Now — are they there for every minute the school is open? Are they at every athletic event? Are they at every playground? Are they at every soccer field?

    This country just offers something that costs more every time someone wants something fixed. Hiring armed guards. Who cares if we don’t know what a semi-automatic gun is? I don’t see any reason — if it’s no faster than loading — that they are allowed. I don’t care if you think the criminals will get guns anyway. Where are there the most guns? Inner cities or rural hunting areas? What’s the difference. It’s where someone uses a gun that causes the problem.

    So — of course there will be obfuscation about why ban guns? Because that is the business these people are in. When the world comes apart and we all needs guns to survive, I don’t want the little children to live in it. If you want armed guards in schools, you have to have search and detection prevention programs. More money.

    How about we accept that most if not all of these shooters are mentally disturbed individuals? How about if we accept that most damage to children — if it’s not inborn — happens in schools? How about if we listen to guidance counselors who will tell you they are therapists far more than they are college or course counselors? 90% of their time is spent with 10% of the kids. Can’t we try to help kids before we need to defend them?

    125,000 schools. 200,000,000 kids attend them. The NRA offers us a way to spend money on their product to defend them. I’ll be willing to ask to have fewer guns and more therapists…Israel and Switzerland pay more attention to security. So clearly — there is no common thread to that outcome.

    Don’t give up. But don’t expect to solve it without a major political effort. Voices are heard, but voices with checks are heard more clearly. that’s the system. The people making the rules have to campaign to keep their jobs every two years.

    Let’s put guards at all the TE schools. Let the townships pay for it. After all — ti’s their citizens that are being protected. The schools only educate people who they are legally required to educate. It’s the township that runs the law and order. This is NOT a school issue.

    1. “Who cares if we don’t know what a semi-automatic gun is? I don’t see any reason — if it’s no faster than loading — that they are allowed.”

      Here’s a good YouTube to educate everybody on this.

      The police officer makes the exact point I see Piers Morgan on CNN making – that the media is saying semi-autos are easily transfigured to full auto when it is not true. Morgan was showing full auto M-16’s last night and saying this is what is being used or readily convertible, which is not true at all.

      Fact is, if you ban “military style” weapons, you still have just as deadly semi-autos out there that that don’t look “scary”.

      There is an argument to made for banning 30 round hi-cap mags – and I support that, though 10 round mags can cause a lot of carnage and be reloaded just as quickly and within months of a ban 3D printer plans for 30-round PMAG shells, adjustable black stocks, etc. will be uploaded to the internet, and any would-be spree killers with a credit card and a few spare hours will have all the 30+ round magazines and other illegal accessories they want.

      That being said, I support a new AWB. However, unless you ban ALL semi-auto rifles – like the ones used for hunting that don’t look “evil”, as well as semi-auto pistols use for home protection/competition, I don’t see this accomplishing much – and there is no shot at banning all semi-autos and I would not support that.

      This YouTube is very concise with a police officer explaining the differences. It will educate those who don’t understand firearms, so no matter your views on this issue you will have a better understanding of what you are talking about.

      This won’t change your views whether you want to ban all guns or not. I’m posting it to educate so people at least know what they are talking about.

  6. Oh — how about a “student security fee?” We have people who don’t want to pay for coaches, so we have an activity fee. Let’s assess a security fee?

  7. I have wanted to make a comprehensive comment for some time. This will have two parts: 1) Prevention/Mental Health; and 2) Gun Control.

    1) The best prevention is to improve our ability to identify and treat troubled kids (and adults too) before they commit acts of violence. While I have pointed out that most mentally ill people are not dangerous, it is true that most school shooters have serious mental health problems.

    a) Providing lots of counselling services and school psychologists is extremely important.

    b) Keeping class sizes small so that troubled kids get the attention they need and do not “fall through the cracks” is also critical.

    c) Prevention of harrassment and bullying is essential too – the Columbine shooters and several others share this in common – they were bullied, and took out their resentment on their fellow students.

    d) Training students, staff, teachers and parents to recognize warning signs (extreme social isolation and alienation, statements regarding a desire to hurt others, threats and plans – most school shooters telegraph their intentions in advance, often quite explicitly, often on the internet or social media).

    e) Cultivating a climate in which students are encouraged and empowered to tell a trusted adult when they see or hear of any warning signs, backed up by an anonymous means of reporting such as a tip line.

    d) Coordination with local fire rescue and police to make contingency and response plans, including lockdown drills.

    Now, if you attend the school safety meeting, you will hear how T/E has been doing these kinds of things, as have most schools since Columbine. A number of school shootings nationwide have been prevented by these safeguards. There is no doubt the need for continual review and improvement in these areas.

    2) Gun control: I personally do not have a problem with banning high-capacity “assault” weapons. However, I don’t think that will make our schools any safer in the forseeable future. Politically, the best you can expect in this country is a ban on new purchases – I don’t think there will ever be confiscation of existing weapons. There are millions of such weapons out there, and guns are quite durable. With reasonable maintenance, they can be kept in working order for 50 years or more – I still hunt with a couple of guns that were manufactured well before WWII. Insane and evil people will always be able to get their hands on guns if they are determined. I am all in favor of closing loopholes in background checks, etc., to make it more difficult for dangerous people to acquire guns, but such measures will never be 100% effective.

    Given the forgoing, the debate about armed presence in the schools is a reasonable debate to have. It should be subject to the same analysis of pros and cons as any other issue – there are potential benefits but also costs – not only financial but in terms of what this would do to the climate in our schools and whether that is worth it given the downside.

    I am not sure what I think about that, but I will express my opinion that if armed presence is necessary, it would be better to have highly trained professionals rather than simply allowing teachers to carry guns. And forget non-lethal means such as bear spray – I have carried it in the wilderness of Canada and Colorado on scout trips, and have tested its capabilities and done a lot of reading on the subject. It would be too easy to defeat – a painter’s mask and goggles for example. Currently there are no reliable non-lethal weapons, so deadly force can only be met with deadly force.

    One final point – even armed guards and metal detectors do not guarantee complete safety. In 1998, a paranoid schizophrenic entered the capitol building in Washington DC, in a restricted area which has congressional offices. He walked around the metal detector and shot and killed a veteran Capitol Police officer who was manning the entry. He then gained access to the interior where he shot and killed another officer before being wounded and captured. Also, there was an aremed officer at Columbine who engaged the shooters unsuccessfully – one problem is going up against assault weapons with a pistol. Guards in schools would need to have equal weaponry – so that needs to be considered in any discussion of the pros and cons.

  8. I suspect (but have no hard facts) that the majority of funding from the NRA come from gun manufacturers and/or gun sellers. Groups, in other words, who have a financial interest in seeing more guns sold and on the street. If so, this problem of financial interest is exactly the same issue with the groups manufacturing and profiting from violent video games, movies etc under the guise of the First Amendment and then telling us it doesn’t matter because it’s all pretend. The popular culture makes violence “cool” and the proximity to guns is an aggravating factor. Both aspects come from large industries that actually work against the general public good. No change is going to come about until these two factors are fully acknowledged by society. Addressing mental health issues may ultimately prevent the worse type of tragedies like Connecticut, but not the majority of gun violence.

  9. Let’s play along with the armed school concept. I’m not endorsing it. I tossed it around in the immediate aftermath of the shooting because I want to prevent these shootings and protect kids like anyone else and it can be argued a armed presence in itself would have a deterrent effect and deranged shooters would seek easier targets than schools.

    The first argument is whether guns should even be in schools. If these shootings were occurring every week with never ending threats in many schools, I think most people would be screaming for and having no problem paying for armed police officers in schools.

    Since these shootings are relatively rare, some people seem to have put a cost/benefit analysis on this and have stated it is not worth it or we cannot afford it (I understand an AWB is one alternative to lowering the odds of a school shooting that people may say is the best way to go and I endorse that, but it also won’t put an end to these shootings).

    Further, points have been made by some they don’t want their kids taught in a “prison” or a “police state” – and I absolutely agree with that now that I have really thought this through with some time and having my emotions on this horrific tragedy subside a little.

    That’s why IF guns were to be in schools for protection (and I’m not even saying I endorse this at this point – I’d prefer teachers have non-lethal but incapacitating devices since some good ideas on that were brought up), I’d prefer specially screened and trained teachers having access to a firearm to two in safes like I mentioned in my post above.

    That way nobody is walking around with firearms and it is cost effective. No police state and no accidental discharges.

    As for whether a firearm a teacher got out of a safe would be effective with an active shooter, there is no guarantee the shooter would not prevail, however I can see that IF that principal or the psychologist who ran at the Newtown shooter were armed and trained, it can certainly be argued there could well have been a different outcome. No doubt the odds would have significantly improved. How much would be up to the experts, and every situation would be different.

    As for Columbine, the Sheriff’s deputy who exchanged gunfire outside with one of the shooters there proceeded to wait outside with other police who came while the carnage occurred inside the school.

    At the time they thought was it was a hostage situation because school shootings were not even on the radar so the police waited outside.

    No doubt years later that Sheriff’s deputy would have gone right after the shooters just as an unarmed principal and psychologist did at Newtown, understanding what the sound of gunfire in a school now means.

    My take – I’d leave whether schools should have whatever type of armed presence of any kind up to each community and school district depending on how the specific community views the issue (no national plan like the NRA is proposing).

    If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see where and how future school shootings play out with some schools having an armed deterrence and some not – though I certainly hope there are not more school shootings, but I don’t think that is a realistic expectation..

    I note we don’t see these shootings in inner city schools with armed police officers, but this also seems to be a middle class, suburban white male phenomena where armed cops do not generally have a presence, so I can’t really extrapolate anything from that.

    The one thing I have problem with is putting s price tag on this. Either having armed protection in schools is needed or it is not. IF it is (say if these shootings somehow became even more prevalent) I don’t see cost as an issue in protecting kids at all.

    Obviously, let’s hope and assume we don’t have to go there. With a new AWB, better mental health screening and access to care, parents taking responsibility on not letting kids play so many (or any) violent video games, addressing “loner” kids with no friends with counselors early on and keeping kids from teasing them, etc. these shootings that are not an everyday occurrence can certainly be dramatically reduced.

    That does not mean when another school shooting occurs the NRA won’t be screaming that it was due to not having armed guards and the Brady Campaign will not be screaming it was because all guns were not banned and we will hit an unfortunate stalemate, but at least the things I mentioned will have been done.

    I’d still leave it up to individual schools districts and there community values. Doing that, I don’t think anybody in this area needs to be concerned about guns for protection in schools because it won’t happen, but I would still consider non-lethal devices that incapacitate.

    That would even be a counter-argument to the NRA that something is being done to directly protect kids if a shooting were to occur, so why don’t you get more reasonable on sensible firearms safety restrictions?

  10. there has to be a way to keep a would-be perpertrator OUT of the schools before they enter. I am pleased to read and see of a police presence at our schools. Even with an officer in a car in the parking lot, can he/she react fast enough to prevent a killer from entering the school? It seems to me that short of having an armed officer IN the school all the time, there is NO way to defend against someone getting in. Kind of like legislating morality. We live in a generally free society governed by laws that derive from natural law and designed to be for the good of the most. Frankly, and even though I have advocated armed enforcers of some kind in our schools, undercover perhaps to avoid “scaring” the little ones, I am not sure this would work. Forget about the finances, the logistics are enormous. Every window and door is a vulnerability. What have we become and what do we want to be? have a gun in your house as many do? Hope you don’t shoot your own kid when he comes in late at night? Does that mean you should not have one? I don’t know. Will a police car in the school lot deter a loon from walking in and create as much carnage as possible until the officer reacts? I don’t know. I have no kids in the district now, my wife works in a school. To be honest, I am a bit worried about her, no matter how low the odds are that this will happen around here. I just dont know….

    1. Interesting read —

      According to this expert, Lt. Col. Dave Gross, here’s his list of what we can do to protect our kids at school:

      1. Denial — Denial is the enemy and it has no survival value.

      2. Deter — Put police officers in schools, because with just one officer assigned to a school, the probability of a mass murder in that school drops to almost zero

      3. Detect — We’re talking about plain old fashioned police work here. The ultimate achievement for law enforcement is the crime that didn’t happen, so giving teachers and administrators regular access to cops is paramount.

      4. Delay — Various simple mechanisms can be used by teachers and cops to put time and distance between the killers and the kids.

      a. Ensure that the school/classroom have just a single point of entry. Simply locking the back door helps create a hard target.
      b. Conduct your active shooter drills within (and in partnership with) the schools in your city so teachers know how to respond, and know what it looks like when you do your response.

      5. Destroy — Police officers and agencies should consider the following:

      a. Carry off duty. No one would tell a firefighter who has a fire extinguisher in his trunk that he’s crazy or paranoid.
      b. Equip every cop in America with a patrol rifle. One chief of police, upon getting rifles for all his officers once said, “If an active killer strikes in my town, the response time will be measured in feet per second.”
      c. Put smoke grenades in the trunk of every cop car in America. Any infantryman who needs to attack across open terrain or perform a rescue under fire deploys a smoke grenade. A fire extinguisher will do a decent job in some cases, but a smoke grenade is designed to perform the function.
      d. Have a “go-to-war bag” filled with lots of loaded magazines and supplies for tactical combat casualty care.
      e. Use helicopters. Somewhere in your county you probably have one or more of the following: medevac, media, private, national guard, coast guard rotors.
      f. Employ the crew-served, continuous-feed, weapon you already have available to you (a firehouse) by integrating the fire service into your active shooter training. It is virtually impossible for a killer to put well-placed shots on target while also being blasted with water at 300 pounds per square inch.
      g. Armed citizens can help. Think United 93. Whatever your personal take on gun control, it is all but certain that a killer set on killing is more likely to attack a target where the citizens are unarmed, rather than one where they are likely to encounter an armed citizen response.

      It is also interesting to note that this article was written May, 2010 — 2-1/2 yrs. ago.

      Excerpt from Op-Ed by Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post, 12/19/12:

      ” … The U.S. gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries…

      They strongly suggest that we have so much more gun violence than other countries because we have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 50 percent of the guns.

      There is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence. In Australia, after a 1996 ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons — a real ban, not like the one we enacted in 1994 with 600-plus exceptions — gun-related homicides dropped 59 percent over the next decade. The rate of suicide by firearm plummeted 65 percent. (Almost 20,000 Americans die each year using guns to commit suicide — a method that is much more successful than other forms of suicide.) …

      A few hours before the Newtown murders last week, a man entered a school in China’s Henan province. Obviously mentally disturbed, he tried to kill children. But the only weapon he was able to get was a knife. Although 23 children were injured, not one child died…

      The problems that produced the Newtown massacre are not complex, nor are the solutions. We do not lack for answers. What we lack in America today is courage.

      1. Note #2: “Deter — Put police officers in schools, because with just one officer assigned to a school, the probability of a mass murder in that school drops to almost zero”.

        Now, Grossman works very closely with the police, and the police don’t want armed teachers because it means they are not only people who can handle firearms and criminals, but regardless, a Pulitzer Prize nominated author, West Point psychology professor, and one of the nation’s foremost experts on human aggression and violence states with one police officer (or one similarly trained/skilled armed individual) in a school “the probability of a mass murder in that school drops to almost zero.”

        Cops cost a lot of money, though, and IF we were to arm schools, I prefer the gun in a safe with a few select teachers trained by the police with extensive psychological testing as it will not cost much as the teacher is already being paid, and you don’t have anyone walking around with a gun all the time where accidents can happen, and you don’t make the school feel like an armed camp.

        1. Yes, I understand that Grossman is an expert in this field — truly, I do. And if it comes to guns in our schools, I guess I will just have to accept that my “pro gun control” stance may place me in the minority opinion.

          So, IF the schools were to be armed and IF (for cost reasons primarily) teachers were trained by the police, you recommend that the guns be stored in a safe (assume school office or other secure location). OK, so IF there were an emergency requiring the use of these guns in the safe — doesn’t the logistics have the potential to add to the crisis? Take this scenario, the designated teacher is on a different floor or in another wing of the school when the emergency occurs and has to find his/her way to the safe to retrieve the gun. What happens to the children in his/her care while this occurs?

          Maybe at this stage of discussion, the logistics don’t matter. (I have been accused of worrying too much about the minutia of any given situation/issue.)

        2. Cops cost no more than teachers for the length of the work day.
          Nothing will convince me that it is appropriate to train/arm a teacher. And let me assure you, that would be considered an “Extra Duty Responsibility” — which means extra pay, extra time off etc. Let teachers teach. And again — I didn’t say it in a serious vein above, but I am serious — a “security fee” for students, or a tax by the township would seem the most appropriate. This is NOT a school matter to beef up security at their buildings. Whever the building is, that’s where the police come from.

          If you read the article, you will see the details he considers are to train teachers how to deal with the intrusion…he references the library at Columbine and how the damage might have been mitigated.

          The doors are already locked — unless someone wants in very badly….but again, this is like terrorism. If you live in fear, they win.

        3. I’m thinking of a quick access safe in two key locations around the school. Perhaps administrative office near main entrance and another likely entrance point. Quick access biometric release from he thumb print of approved/trained/qualified teacher(s).

          Could the shooting be occurring on the other side of the school? Sure. Same problem with an armed guard/cop at the other side of the school, but it is a much quicker response than a cop patrolling a mile or two away – or many miles away in rural areas that only have state police support.

          I just don’t get the major concern about a teacher as opposed to an armed guard/cop, but I respect other views – inclusive of no guns or cops in the school at all.

          Firearms proficient teacher(s) will do their jobs teaching and know the drill. They would be trained by the police on how to handle a shooter, but their day would go on teaching without even thinking about it unless shots are heard or the teacher is alerted via cell phone.

          Again, my reasons for doing it this way are three fold IF arms were to be kept in schools.

          Avoids the cost of a cop, does not provide a constant armed presence where accidents can happen, and does not provide for a gun toting environment which is not what I want in schools.

          I would have these teachers approved and trained by the police. If the police don’t feel any teachers are up to the task, and if the community still thought there was a need, hire a cop.

          Honestly, you don’t even have to do this in every school. If a school district announces it has the policy I am suggesting, but does not do it in all schools, a shooter does not know which school is armed or not.

          The mere possibility of an armed presence would do a lot to deter, in my view.

          These shooters may be deranged, but they appear to be quite intelligent and they plan these things so they maximize killing with a plan to immediately kill themselves or surrender when confronted with armed force.

          Sure, there may be a shootout, but when you read about all these school shootings, in most all cases they kill themselves or surrender when cops or (as has happened numerous times) armed citizens arrive on the scene.

          I’ve seen cops at the range. I have been no more impressed with them than any other citizens who shoot fairly often for practice or competition.

          Cops are regular citizens who pass background and psychological tests while being trained to use firearms.

          No reason anyone – like armed guards or teachers – can’t be trained in the same fashion (say over the summer for teachers) and be far more skilled with a firearm than these shooters. Not all teachers would be up for the task or would want to do it, but I have run across plenty of teachers who I think would have the proper temperament.

          A school principal and psychologist ran at the shooter in Newtown unarmed. I’d say that provides for the proper temperament to grab a gun out of a safe and approach the shooter and kill him.

          Again, that’s how I would do it IF the need for armed defense was called for in schools by any given community.

          At this point the need is debatable, but I’d certainly be beefing up all current protective measures while considering non-lethal means to aid in defense – you know, so nobody gets hurt.

          Which is the irony – we can’t have guns in a school because somebody might get hurt as a deranged killer mows down kids. That’s why I would use a safe. No guns to be misused or accidentally discharged in a safe, and if a deranged person is mowing kids down with an AR, I’m not so concerned about safety with a stray bullet from a teacher at that point.

          And yes, Grossman recommended armed cops in schools. And how doeshe make extra money on top of his job as a professor? By giving seminars to police forces on this. Of course he would recommend armed cops in schools. If he recommend armed guards who are not cops or teachers, his speaking fees may well dry up.

          Note Grossman also said: “g. Armed citizens can help. Think United 93. Whatever your personal take on gun control, it is all but certain that a killer set on killing is more likely to attack a target where the citizens are unarmed, rather than one where they are likely to encounter an armed citizen response.”

          Mind you, I’d prefer guns not be in schools at all and that other measures ideally work, but this is how I’d do it need be.

        4. The fact is that even without a police officer in the school, the probability of a mass murder in a school is already almost zero. And mass murders have occurred in places where there were already armed police presence (west va and columbine).

          So the notion that armed police in the schools is a solution is to me a fallacy.

  11. Maybe Keith or Kevin can weigh in here since it’s purely speculative: Can you imagine any circumstance under which the PSEA would be okay for a member of the bargaining unit to accept this training? And if you can, what do you think it would entail/require/cause in collective bargaining?

    Admins are different, but they are also not always present in the schools.

    I think of guns as offensive/aggressive /violent — I think of teachers as protective/defensive.

    1. I’m sure the PSEA (NEA) will be joining the national conversation soon. My first thought is that they would want protection in the form of a highly trained, armed guard at every school. How ironic that they might agree with the NRA.
      We are starting bargaining next month (required by law). I’ll be interested to see if it comes up at the table. Depending on the ground rules between the parties, I may or may not be able to make it public.

    2. monmouth county schools, NJ.. they will be putting armed police in schools. Harden doors replace windows with bulletproof glass. each school.

  12. Pattye, being “pro gun control” isn’t a minority position nationally – perhaps just on this blog? It is amazing to me the the NRA actually has only 4 million members, yet carries such weight in Washington. After their leaders’ recent comments – unresponsive to say the least – maybe the NRA’s influence will begin to wane and we can have sensible discussions about gun control without NRA interference.

    1. Here’s the problem – and to be clear I am not an NRA member and don’t endorse quite a bit of what they do, and especially more recently. 40 years ago when they were not so politically involved and were more about safety I would have been a member, but now it is all politics and catering to special interests.

      The problem is that while 4 million dues paying members may seem small compared to the overall population, the NRA has a lot more people who support it that are not dues paying members. Millions more support them at the voting booth.

      There is a reason the NRA has been declared the most powerful lobby in the Washington. Even more powerful than the AARP, which has10 time the members.

      The further problem is the gun control groups have a fraction of the 4 million members the NRA has who actually give them money.

      The NRA probably outspent the gun control groups 100-1 lobbying Congress and supporting candidates last year.

      Now, perhaps this most recent tragedy will get more people involved in the gun control groups and they will have more clout, but members of Congress are still fearful of losing their jobs to the NRA.

      Bill Clinton wrote in his memoir that the 1994 AWB cost the Democrats control of Congress.

      There is a reason Obama is not being more vocal about gun control and only a few D’s in Congress are making a lot of noise. The ones making the noise know their constituents support gun control so the NRA can’t replace them.

      Republicans have the majority in the House. Democrats have dodged two election threats to their majority in the Senate. They clung to their majority in 2010 and even managed to get back two seats in November. But, the GOP gets a third bite at the apple in 2014, when the Democrats will be defending 20 seats against the GOP’s 13.

      The Democrats face a dangerous array of states from a gun control perceptive.

      Among the states Democrats will be defending are Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and South Dakota. All of these states have very strong blocks of pro-gun voters.

      Elections in 2014 are already expected to be a difficult cycle for Democrats. In the modern political era, virtually every party holding the White House has suffered losses in the middle of its second term.

      Regardless of how the fiscal cliff negotiations end, the economy will remain weak through 2014. There is a chance the economy slips back into recession. Harry Reid (from pro-gun Nevada) probably wants to be careful about how Democrats address gun control for the midterm. Midterm’s have lower turnout than presidential elections, allowing an energized base of voters, like gun rights supporters, to have an out-sized impact on the results.

      Of course, gun control folks could come out and have an outsized impact on the vote, but that is not what has historically happened the past 10-15 years. The pro-gun groups are very good at getting the vote out.

      And this is why I hate politics and our current bought-and-paid for political system. Democrats in Washington will be very careful with this issue when many who support gun control expect swift action from Democratic legislators.

      If you don’t see it, or if you think it is watered down – and if Democrats in pro-gun states don’t vote for certain gun control legislation, this will be why. It’s all about keeping your party in power and job security and both parties do it to the detriment of what is actually best for this country.

  13. What I find interesting here is that the NRA and its supporters are not willing to entertain any possibility that the availability of weapons like those used in Newtown could be even a small a part of the problem. On the other hand, even the strongest advocates for gun control seem to be able to accept that hardening of the schools, up to and including armed personnel in some or all locations, may be helpful, especially in the short term.

    This tactic of claiming that even a dialog is part of a “slippery slope” that will lead to elimination of enshrined constitutional, human or other rights is commonly used by groups throughout the world that perceive a threat. It seems to work a lot, although perhaps the last election showed that the US public is able to reject those that largely depend on fallacies to frame the debate. The list in the excellent post above of the states in play in 2014, though, shows that it may be especially hard to establish the national will on this topic where the extremists are so well funded.

    1. I agree. This is why I have very little patience with the NRA. I support the 2nd Amendment, yet enough is enough and I have endorsed all the gun control legislation that have been offered up – background checks for private sales of long guns (“Gunshow loophole” which really has very little to do with gunshows), reporting lost/stolen firearms, one-gun-a-month, 10 round mag max, banning scary looking semi-autos.

      None of this will directly affect me in any way and never would have if the laws had been on the books forever.

      It’s not going to solve all our problems, but it’s one piece of the puzzle that will help some and certainly can’t hurt.

      Now, are those who won’t budge on this extremists? Perhaps, but I prefer to be careful with such labels because it does not help the debate and will cause those who won’t budge to dig in deeper.

        1. I think people can defend themselves and their homes just fine with a semi-auto pistol with 10 round mags as opposed to the standard 16 and the extended 30 round mags out there. They can also compete just as easily in pistol competitions and target shoot.

          I don’t endorse a ban all semi-auto rifles, but I have no problem with banning the scary looking ones and leaving the rest with 10 round mags max. That will not infringe much at all upon hunting, self-defense, target shooting or competition with semi-auto rifles.

          Sure, I don’t see this stopping madmen per se, but there is logic to the carnage being lessened when you have to reload after 10 shots as opposed to 30.

          Mind you, someone well trained and practiced with a pistol can reload with a spare 10-round mags in under 2 seconds per mag, but most of these shooters will most likely fumble upon reloading where they could then be tackled.

          And, since this won’t absolutely stop future shootings we need to look at everything. Increased access to mental health care while removing the stigma, having schools and parents being pro-active with counseling for “loner” type kids and those who show other concerns, looking into how violent game sand TV may affect kids with a certain mindset/brain disorder, beefing up school security with what ever means any given community feels is best, etc.

          This still won’t put an end to these shootings, but all this put together should make them far fewer, and when they do occur, lower capacity mags may lessen the carnage and an armed cop, guard or teacher in a school could stop it in its tracks if a community goes that route.

          I want this to end – or at least become extremely rare, so I am supporting all sensible approaches I have seen proposed.

    2. Ray – You claim to be looking for dialogue, although we all know that your mind is made up (like many others who are advocating tighter controls on weapons they do not understand).

      Fact is you are so closed minded and dug in on the issue that you suggested using “bear spray” on anyone with a contrary opinion to yours – including someone advocating armed security in the schools…

      How could anyone NOT be concerned with infringement of constitutional rights when you clearly only support free speech so long as it agrees with you.

      1. NSS — I think you are a little hardline here. And I don’t see where Ray suggested Bear Spray as any other purpose than what Keith proposed…and even Keith’s proposal was hypothetical.

        Here’s the hard part — if you will accept some ambiguity in a statement — no one knows what can fix it. But everyone knows it’s broken. Contitutional rights have been abridged and modified since they were first written. We let women vote by amendment. We freed the slaves. We have put limitations on free speech where dangerous outcomes are advocated.

        We aren’t safe anymore. And for many who cringe at the notion of a gun in our homes, we don’t believe that arming ever more people is anything but contrary to the values we espouse. Even the writing of the 2nd amendment is so ambiguous as to wonder who the hard core was among them who so cleverly bestowed a right that under common sense is NOT even implied in the amendment. And for those who want to carry weapons in the extreme situation where the government will come and get you — no amount of guns will stop that. In fact, Waco probably only took place because BATF and the FBI used weapons as the reason to make the raid. SO — if the only reason to own these assault weapons and similarly high powered arms is because you enjoy it — then why not at least entertain the debate about the downsize of its misuse?

        Waco was 1993 and I remember reading this article in reference to it….

        Meant to reflect a completely different perspective, it loses its value by using the M word (the media) and ignoring the linkages between excessive arms possession and the ultimate result.

        If you have the right to bear arms, I’m all for you limiting your possession to what you can actually bear….not to what you can accumulate, store, and stockpile

        But the dialogue cannot be didactic. It has to be an exchange of ideas. We cannot solve anything but only debating our own viewpoints.

        1. Ray suggested the “bear spray” tactic in another thread – his silence on the matter now speaks volumes.

        2. Cowardly Anonymous (great screen name referencing an idiot Tredyffrin supervisor) says: “Even the writing of the 2nd amendment is so ambiguous as to wonder who the hard core was among them who so cleverly bestowed a right that under common sense is NOT even implied in the amendment.”

          The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise in the Heller case just recently. The 2A has to do with an individual right., and the writings of the founders support this.

          Further, Article I, section 21 of the PA Constitutions states in the Declaration of Rights: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” This was written one year after the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

          You can’t get much more unambiguous than that.

          Additionally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stressed that courts must analyze the Pennsylvania Constitution independently from the Federal Constitution and may accord greater protection under the State Constitution than the “minimum guarantees established by the United States Constitution.” Commonwealth v. Edmunds, 586 A.2d 887, 894-95 (Pa 1991).

          The Court provided the following guidance for
          Pennsylvania constitutional analysis:

          “Here in Pennsylvania, we have stated with increasing frequency that it is both important and necessary that we undertake an independent analysis of the Pennsylvania Constitution, each time a provision of that fundamental document is implicated. Although we may accord weight to federal decisions where they are found to be logically persuasive and well reasoned, paying due regard to precedent and the policies underlying specific constitutional guarantees, we are free to reject the conclusions of the United States Supreme Court so long as we remain faithful to the minimum guarantees established by the United States Constitution”.

          The Pennsylvania Constitution is unequivocal in an individual right to bear arms.

          Further, Cowardly’s argument that you can only “bear” the number of arms you can carry is specious.

          Are we only allowed one pen, one piece of paper and one computer/printer under the 1A?

          That being said, constitutional rights can be limited due to an interest in safety.

          That’s why I’m supporting all sensible gun safety legislation that has been proposed in the wake of these horrific shootings.

      2. NSS-My own beliefs on how to start addressing this problem focus more with the popular culture (movies, video, etc) and better mental health controls, but there can’t be much argument that the proximity to guns is also part (a lesser part, in my view) of the issues. I do not think such things as banning sale of full auto weapons, certain types of ammo and requiring a single low cost weapon certification/use course are unreasonable. People who own guns should be required to show they know how to use them-not just the “point and shoot” mentality.

      3. yep thats like telling a friend who is about to have surgery not to worry, its minor. All surgery is minor when its not yours. THose who purport to infringe on others rights do so as long as no one infringes on theirs.

  14. This is Christmas…today in church our pastor received thunderous applause. For those who want to consider peace on earth, this sermon reflecting on gun control is worth a listen. Pastor Susan Ericsson at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Devon.
    God With Us

    (last week it was about the Newtown Shooting — called Joy Interrupted).
    Streams and mp3 online.

  15. Sorry — but guns kind of jumps out at me here.

    We mourn the loss of Firefighter Michael J. Chiapperini and Firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka of the West Webster Fire Department, NY. They died in the line of duty this morning after being shot upon arrival at a house fire. Also we pray for a speedy recovery of Firefighter Joseph Hofstetter and Firefighter Theodore Scardino who were also shot. You are in the hearts and minds of your Brothers and Sisters from Berwyn.

    1. BFC – Truly a shame what happened in Webster (as with SH and the other attacks). BUT – Was legal guns the cause of attack in Webster? was an assault weapon used? big clip?

      Or could the major issue in Webster simply be that a known psychotic and murderer was not still behind bars??? Come on people…..

    1. I agree there has to be a balance. However, I have endorsed all gun control proposals that have been brought about so far, I have endorsed increased access to mental health care while removing the stigma, having schools and parents being pro-active with counseling for “loner” type kids and those who show other concerns, looking into how violent game sand TV may affect kids with a certain mindset/brain disorder, beefing up school security with what ever means any given community feels is best, as well as anything else that will help.

      Am I being fearful, or am I reasonably trying to solve a problem?

      1. You are being reasonable — I think my response to Mad Anthony is to remind us that we are talking about using lots of resources to resolve 1) something that is statistically unlikely to happen and 2) that even with these resources deployed, they have not stopped events elsewhere. So we need to discuss relevance and reality, not just reinforcements. NO ONE wants this to happen. The fact is — deterring is not stopping. And lots of homes with alarm systems have been burglarized….
        It’s quite a puzzle….and there are pieces missing.

  16. Thanks so much for your Christmas Day post. It really touched my heart. As I enjoyed the day with my grown children, happy memories of Christmases past came over me. Children and Christmas. I couldn’t help thinking of the families who spent the day grieving their lost loved ones. Unimaginable. And senseless.

    I came across this opinion piece by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. He’s not exactly my cup of tea politically, but a fine writer. (Advisor and speech writer for Bush 41, Jack Kemp and Bob Dole) And his perspective on gun violence and what we as Americans can do is so reasoned and balanced that I think it will give pause to all but the most close-minded.

    BTW, in a WP Opinion Poll asking readers if they support armed police officers in all schools, 86% said NO. Over 35,000 people have responded.

  17. NSS — Not needing to speak for Ray, but you are heading down a very narrow and wrong path. His “silence” speaks better ways to spend his time than answering silly accusations.
    We need to stay focused on topics, not responses. (as I misguidedly respond to your response) :-)

    1. Then dont speak for Ray. Do you defend this post?

      Ray Clarke, on December 21st, 2012 at 1:06 PM Said:

      ….Those protesters at the “press conference” should have had some bear spray for Mr LaPierre!
      I hope that the TESD community meeting in January is not hijacked by this kind of self interest from the gun and security industries. Another occasion to have that bear spray ready!

      1. Under the First Amendment anybody and everybody has a right to voice their views no matter what they are at the next TESD meeting (so long as no laws are broken like a direct threat of violence – which is an example of how rights can be limited out of deference to public safety.).

        I never seek to shut anyone down on their views, though if I disagree I may offer my differing views in response and have discourse where we disagree.

        I maintain my 1A rights by making sure everybody has a voice – including those I may disagree with.

        I abhor the KKK, but I won’t seek to prevent them from having a march down Main Street, because if I succeed all marches down main street may be banned.

        What you do in response is either ignore them or make your voice heard – say with a counter-protest in my KKK example.

      2. no simple solution.. ,maybe he said that tongue in cheek. I don’t know. Maybe ray can tell us, but I kind of read it that way, he responded with bear spray to another post. Also, disclaimer, I don’t know ray.

        1. I agree that it was tongue in cheek, still an idiotic thing to say nonetheless. Had someone suggested (tongue in cheek or otherwise) to attack the gun control advocates at a meeting Ray would be indignant.

          Maybe Ray can tell us, i have called him out on it for days, and multiple times – i guess even he knows that it was not appropriate and rather then admit a mistake he chooses silence.

      3. Do I defend his comments? In literal terms, no, but in the tongue in cheek way he expressed it, yes.

        I too hope the meeting is not hijacked by 2nd Amendment radicals. I hope it’s not hijacked by anti-gun zealots.

        People like Mr. LaPierre are nothing but paid shills. They passionately represent whoever pays their bills. And his followers, who may feel the passion, are incited to action by fear mongering. Look at the gun sales in the past few weeks — any threat or fear of banning guns has people stockpiling them. Seriously? You need more guns because you might be limited to lower firepower? The militias that are being built == hypothetical in nature — are no match for any opponent — again — look at Waco. There was no need for that to happen, but it was the fact that WACO was heavily armed that resulted in a catastrophic result.

        So NSS — I hear your fear and your indignation. I cannot begin to understand it because I simply do not think the “right to bear arms” was ever intended to infringe on my right to “life, liberty and my pursuit of happiness.” And I will never believe the right to bear arms — as intended — was ever meant to be expanded to the high tech weaponry we see today.

        SO — to get back to Ray’s bear spray reference — how can you possibly be offended that he suggested using something non-lethal against someone who is paid to expand and maintain the rights to carry lethal weapons. To me, it means if it doesn’t kill, it isn’t worth it?

        1. “The militias that are being built == hypothetical in nature — are no match for any opponent”.

          Not that I endorse homegrown militias in the U.S., but look at Syrian militants about to take that country over with sidearms and shoulder fired RPG’s going up against Syrian army helicopters and tanks, as well as our inability (and the former Soviets) to gain any real control over tribesmen with small arms in Afghanistan where we are using the most advanced and devastating military arsenal in the world.

          I also thought the bear spray – and any other incapacitating and non-lethal devices are certainly worth looking into for school security.

        2. Like it or not, the 2nd amendment was devised (intended) for people to be able to protect themselves with the same type of weaponry from those whom they might need protection.

        3. Yes Cowardly, he is a paid shill. Like so many paid shills, weather its in our government, union leaders NRA leaders, I tend to look past them. Unfortunately they continue to make asses of themselves all too often. The NRA should have a better “spokesperson”. But thats besides the point.

  18. New Gallop Poll in the wake of Newtown tragedy:

    Support for stricter guns laws strongest since 2004, but still not as strong as 1990’s.

    58% of Americans favor strengthening gun laws.

    However, those who oppose a new “assault” weapon ban are greater than those who support it by 51-44%.

    62% favor banning high capacity magazines.

    Opposition to banning handguns just reached a record high 74%, which I find interesting.

    It would appear Americans strongly support owning firearms like handguns, but they favor doing away with the high capacity magazines that can hold 30+ rounds.

    It would seem a new “assault” weapons ban by Congress will not be a shoe-in, but they should be able to at least ban high capacity mags.

    Going any further than the old “assault” weapons ban by banning other guns would seem to be a political non-starter as a strong majority of Americans favor firearms ownership from this poll.

  19. Back from holiday relaxation, reflection and reading. For the latter, the latest novel by the brilliant Ian McEwan, who can always so deftly capture the time of my upbringing in post-war England. Which reminds me how each of us looks at issues through the lens of our experiences.

    My own values were first formed in countries like the UK and Australia where severe gun controls were enacted following shooting tragedies, with the support of a large majority of the public and with demonstrable reductions in firearm-related deaths. (For counter-data to today’s WSJ, see Wikipedia, Gun Politics in Australia)

    So my first reaction to events like Newtown is reflexively that lives will be saved by tighter control of the weapons that are singularly capable of such deeds.

    But the types of controls that actually have been shown to make a difference (consistent nationwide license requirements, registration by serial number, 28 day pre-purchase waiting period, secure storage, “genuine reason” for purchase, bans on weapons and accessories like semi-automatics, silencers) are completely impossible in the US.

    Evidence for this abounds. For example, a national westward expansion and culture founded on firearms, Supreme Court interpretations of the Second Amendment, constitutional arguments against license fees (akin to a poll tax) and an effective national database (open to abuse by a tyrannical government).

    My few decades in the US have to come to terms with this centuries old reality.

    That does not mean, I think, that the federal government should not try things, within Supreme Court precedent, that the majority will support. There must be some point on the Constitutional scale where a chance, however small, of preserving innocent life can weigh more than the rights of those unable to defend themselves with, say, high capacity ammunition clips.

    But when it comes to schools, should it not be up to us right here in TE to decide what will make our children safe? (Was it Justice Scalia that said that the Second Amendment is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever, in any manner whatsoever, and for whatever purpose?) The District’s upcoming community meeting is a smart and vital initiative. As a community we need to weigh the psychological and financial costs of options to protect our children and teachers against a threat that can (now and forever) arise at any time. No stone should be left unturned. Whether it’s the maligned bear spray or police assigned to schools.

    Eight schools, two officers per school, $200,000 per officer per year, equals an annual $3.2 million – less than a 4% property tax increase. Coincidentally, about equal to the EIT paid today by Tredyffrin residents to other jurisdictions.

    1. Welcome back Ray.

      A greater danger to our children and our families is not a mass murder attack at a school, but rather being the victim of any number of other violent crimes. Why shouldn’t/wouldn’t we focus our efforts there and work to keep violent criminals in prison longer (or forever)?

      Some studies do show that legal gun ownership does correlate to a decrease in violent crimes – and we know that the latest multiple murder in Webster NY would not have happened had a psychotic murderer not been allowed to plead to a lessor charge and ultimately be released from prison.

    2. UK, and particular England, is interesting. Always had a low murder rate, even when there was no gun control before WWI, and the murder rate did not improve any after strict gun control laws were enforced after WWI, with ownership of most guns being banned after the Dunblane massacre more recently.

      Outside of murder, unarmed England now leads the western world in violent crime.

      Outside of these spree killings by deranged people, violent crime and crimes with firearms in the U.S. have been decreasing the past 20 years as firearms ownership rates have been increasing – which I guess would be the NRA argument to arm everybody.

      Also interesting to note that Japan has the lowest firearms murder rate of any modern country due to a long time ban on civilian firearms ownership, yet it has a suicide rate twice that of the U.S., indicating people will find a way to kill themselves without guns, and at a far higher rate than a heavily armed U.S population, if they want to.

      I found this By criminology professors at Yale and Cal Irvine in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article to be an interesting read. Obviously slanted pro-gun, but still interesting.

      What it tells me is that neither side of the debate has a firm answer. With all the guns already in the U.S., banning them and leaving law-abiding citizens defenseless and criminals heavily armed as they would not turn their guns in and could easily get them on the black market would be a recipe for far more violent crime in my view.

      You would have to start with limited firearms ownership to accomplish anything, and it would seem the U.S. has gone past the point of no return – which is probably why that Gallop poll I posted above has support of handgun ownership in the U.S. at an all-time high of 74% post-Newtown.

      I think people realize there are so many guns in this country that an outright ban would leave them defenseless while the bad guys would be armed to the teeth and would become even more aggressive and violent.

      Some may say that would be unfounded emotions based irrational fear, but a rational concern is borne out by unarmed England having the highest violent crime rate in the western world. And thankfully England has so few firearms with such a high violent crime rate, but I don’t see it being that simple if firearms were banned outright in the U.S. and the violent crime rate increased.

      By criminology professors at Yale and Cal Irvine in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

      UK violent crime rate 4 times the U.S., albeit without the murders, from a UK newspaper:

      1. From the Mail Online article:

        “Criminologists say crime figures can be affected by many factors, including different criminal justice systems and differences in how crime is reported and measured.

        In Britain, an affray is considered a violent crime, while in other countries it will only be logged if a person is physically injured.”

        Noteworthy that the source of the data was the opposition party and their media outlet, looking to make a political point.

        1. Are you suggesting that the way numbers are recorded under different systems ane how they are measured will affect the accumulated results? Wow Ray, you are brilliant!

        2. Yes, but any source you look at, the UK has a higher violent crime rate than the U.S. – save for murders, which can certainly be argued are the most serious crimes and that is a very unfortunate U.S. problem.

          Assuming the article is correct when it states the number of violent crimes rose 77% in the UK from 1997 to when the article was published in 2009, that makes for an interesting point from what I can gather.

          1997 is the year the UK banned all handguns and severely restricted long guns under the 1997 Firearms Act, yet violent crime dramatically increased afterwards.

          Perhaps the 74% of Americans who don’t want to ban handguns in in the Gallop poll I posted above are on to something?

        3. To FF’ s question, I had to go to Wikipedia again for the definition:

          “In many legal jurisdictions related to English common law, affray is a public order offence consisting of the fighting of two or more persons in a public place to the terror (in French: à l’effroi) of ordinary people”

          In other words, routine behavio(u)r in the stands at soccer games.

  20. Good thoughts Ray. I just believe it offers a very false sense of security . And it is not the business of schools to employ police. If the townships want to station people in schools as their solution, so be it.

    1. How can you say that it is not the business of the school district to employ police? The school district is responsible for the security of the people in their buildings, yes? The school district would have to approve police being stationed in school buildings, yes? I think you are completely off here CA. How could the police, under its current budget and staffing levels undertake this task? As I understand it, this would double the # of police on duty.

  21. TR — I guess you don’t know that the townships pay for crossing guards. They are responsible for the safety of our citizens. They are called to respond to any incidents in schools.
    How could the police undertake this task? That’s almost silly. How can it be that the townships could not afford the extra expense, but the school district, which is nothing but a combination of the two townships, and has a legal restriction on its ability to raise taxes, could? These are the SAME taxpayers…. Which pocket do you want to reach into — the deep one or the restrained one? Even for new residents, Tredyffrin earns 1% transfer tax (Easttown only gets 1/2%, same as the school district). No restrictions on their ability to tax either.

    Double the number of police on duty….what a concept. If they are on duty, why not be in the schools? Or is out watching for speeders and ticketing expired registrations more important? Maybe we could create a diversion and have an auto accident to lure the police stationed at the schools out of them?


    1. I think your last paragraph trivializes what is actually an important topic. You were asked a legitimate question and you have a less than legitimate reponse. THAT is silly. The bigger issue is that the school is primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of students and everyone that has cause to be on the premises of school district property. Given the budget cuts to police, to ramp up an operation like this, assuming the police were involved as opposed to a third-party, would require a revisit to proposed 2013 budgets.

      What’s the matter CA? Did you get caught speeding?

      1. My last paragraph was meant to trivialize the assumption that the townships could not afford to cover the schools….but that it would be the duty of a municipal function like a school district to employ police. The school is responsible for a free public education. But this is a silly argument. If the community wants to consider guards in the schools, it will not happen without a referendum for the cost. Because unlike the townships, the schools have limited access and ability to tax. “Revisit the proposed 2013 budgets”….they never visited the 2013 budget…they simply passed it. The state places requirements on schools…our townships pretty much operate autonomously.

        1. To the thing you are trivializing, under the current budget, the township would have to go beyond its 2013 budget forecast to staff police in the schools. Without additional funding, the township cannot afford that. Are you advocating that the township should increase funding? How would you go about addressing the financial gap?

  22. From AP article linked below:

    “Fearful of ban, frenzied buyers swarm gun stores”

    “The phones at Red’s Trading Post wouldn’t stop ringing. Would-be customers from as far away as New York wanted to know if the Twin Falls, Idaho gun shop had firearms in stock. Others clamored to find out if their orders had been shipped.

    “Overwhelmed, gun store manager Ryan Horsley had to do what no employee would ever think of doing just days before Christmas: He disconnected the phone lines for three whole days.

    “‘We had to shut everything off,’ says Horsley, whose family has owned Red’s Trading Post, the state’s oldest gun shop, since 1936. “We were swamped in the store and online.”

    “The phones at gun shops across the country are ringing off the hook. Demand for firearms, ammunition and bulletproof gear has surged since the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn.

    “Assault rifles are sold out across the country. Rounds of .223 bullets, like those used in the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifle used in Newtown, are scarce. Stores are struggling to restock their shelves. Gun and ammunition makers are telling retailers they will have to wait months to get more.

    “Store owners who have been in the business for years say they have never seen demand like this before.

    “When asked how much sales have increased in the past few weeks, Horsley just laughed.

    “‘We haven’t even had a chance to look at it,’ he says.

    “At Lady Liberty Gunsmithing LLC in Atlantic City, N.J., a customer called last week asking if a pistol he wanted was available. When he was told there was only one left, he drove more than two hours from Newark, N.J., to buy it that same day.

    “‘People want guns now even more than ever,’ says Guy Petinga II, whose father opened the store above his home in 1996.

    “Others saw demand immediately after the shooting.

    “Bullet Blocker, which makes bulletproof vests, briefcases and insert panels, saw sales of its children’s backpacks suddenly jump.

    “‘That’s how I found out about the tragedy. I saw the sales rise and then turned on CNN,’ says Elmar Uy, vice president of business operations at the Billerica, Mass., company.

    “Bullet Blocker has sold about 50 to 100 bulletproof backpacks a day since the shooting, up from about 10 to 15 in a regular week. The children’s backpacks, which are designed to be used as shields, cost over $200 each.

    “‘I’ve never seen numbers like this before,’ says Uy.”

    End of quotes from article linked below…

    Only on America.

    The president calls for stricter gun control laws and he unwittingly massively arms more and more Americans.

    I personally don’t get this phenomena. It certainly seems fear based, and Americans certainly seem to be prone to irrational fear.

    These shootings have not motivated me in the least to acquire any firearms – let alone “assault” weapons.

    I guess I should not be surprised. In talking to a Main Line stay-at-home mom who has never owned a firearm about these shootings, she asked me out of the blue what kind of handgun would be best for her.

    I asked her why she thought she needed a handgun and she referenced these shootings.

    Crazy stuff.–finance.html

  23. Didn’t TESD eliminate 25% (8 to 6 between two schools) of its middle school counseling staff two years ago as a ‘budget cost-saving measure’?

    Middle school is the age mental health issues begin to appear.

    How quickly we forgot Columbine…

  24. Counselors are not required…..teachers are. At some point, the scrutiny on budgets and programs does collide. Guidance is absolutely one of the first places it happens…but since there is now a commitment to retain custodians, and the board will be voting not to exceed Act 1, and the teachers have a new contract, and Monday night the “consent agenda” has compensation adjustments for all the “full time” (typically) non-union employees in the system….exactly where should cuts come from?
    It’s the reason this entire country is deteriorating. No one wants to cut what they like….they just dont’ want to pay more, and consider anyone whose pet project differs from theirs idiots.

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