Twenty children. Seven adults. One shooter. Three guns.
The shooter’s name was Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old who lived with his mother in the upper middle-class neighborhood of Newton, CT.
He lived in a home filled with semi-automatic firearms.
He used three of these weapons to kill a total of 27 people – and later, himself.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, recently spoke at a press conference responding to this massacre.
He led off his statement by bringing up the issue of gun-free school zones. According to LaPierre, gun-free school zones “tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” His logic is that we have armed protection at banks, airports, buildings, courts, stadiums, et al, and that we should extend such protection to elementary schools.
Theoretically, if this extension is implemented, it means we would be supplying armed officers to the lowest denominator – daycares, community pools, etc. Where would the line be drawn? It wouldn’t.
We’d see armed officers patrolling every open area, ensuring safety against “insane killers” like Adam Lanza. Of course, this could never actually be instituted, given the federal budget. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011), police officers held an average salary of $56,260 per year. There are nearly 100,000 public schools in America. Simply putting one armed officer in every school, as LaPierre proposed, would equate to nearly $5.6 billion in education spending. Could that be pulled off? Highly unlikely – unless, of course, the NRA paid for it.
An expected argument would thus be to avoid hiring officers and simply have non-officers volunteer. LaPierre stated that, “the National Rifle Association knows there are millions of qualified and active retired police, active, reserve, and retired military, security professionals, certified firefighters, security professionals, rescue personnel, an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained, qualified citizens [ready] to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every single school.” This goes along with LaPierre’s statement that, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Would this improve school safety? Only if you think security against guns is a mere issue of having guns. We’d see all individuals capable of using guns (hopefully only those capable), teachers, secretaries, custodians, volunteers, having guns in case of an emergency. Forgive me for being honest, but this isn’t the type of world I’d like to live in.
Would you want your elementary child in the same room of a weapon? Would this facilitate a learning environment? In addition, would it make a difference? The sheer quickness with which the shooting happened might prevent the armed individual from protecting the kids and unfortunately coming after the occurrence. If the armed individual was in the room at the time, it would result in a gun battle in the middle of a classroom. Also, the presence of armed officers doesn’t always guarantee safety, as proven by the Oregon mall incident.
LaPierre went on to state that the real problem at hand is the violence perpetuated by a “shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.” Several of the games he mentioned were “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Combat,” and “Kindergarten Killers.” He also mentioned the violent pornography and music videos that constantly flash before the people’s eyes as entertainment. I personally don’t play many video games, but I have many friends who do. They do curse occasionally and get angry when losing – they don’t kill people. Such shooters like Lanza aren’t a dime or dozen, and they are an extremely small proportion of the huge number of individuals who play “violent” video games. The problem isn’t the video games, it’s them (don’t tell me Genghis Khan played video games).
Additionally, people seem to believe that banning guns wouldn’t prevent the “bad guys” from obtaining them, believing that they would simply get guns via a black market. I’d like to ask this question in response: Adam Lanza lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Connecticut, would he really have access to such a black market?
For all the descriptions we have of him (most of which are assumptions), portraying him as an awkward, shy person, would Lanza really be able to form connections with this black market? This “black market” isn’t accessible via Google Search or a simple search engine – it’s a “black market” that escapes government regulation.
In this instance, obviously the killer did – and the connection was his own mother. The guns were already in his house. I think that’s the main issue to be dealt with. Not violent video games. Not gun free school zone laws. Simply making sure weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.