By Teresa Welsh |
Something horrible happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. No one can accept this happening to children.
Now there are calls to "do something" and, in fact, something must be done. Solutions are not going to be found in the recycled grab bag of proposed restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. None of the current gun control proposals would have changed the circumstances that led to this shooter being armed with stolen guns.
Critical to the discussion is the fact that guns are used in self-defense around 3,000 times a day—usually without firing a shot. One of those defensive gun uses may have occurred last week at the Clackamas Town Center. Should initial reports prove correct, a licensed citizen presented a firearm, but didn't shoot because he saw a bystander behind the shooter. The shooter committed suicide shortly after seeing a defensive firearm.
Also critical is the historical importance of the civil right to armed self defense. In August 1955, something horrible happened to Emmitt Till. T.R.M. Howard decided that something should be done about it, creating a turning point in the Civil Rights movement. The only way Dr. Howard could advocate for justice for Emmitt Till was to be known by the local Klu Klux Klan as being armed.
There are proposals that come closer to helping "do something." We must be serious about making background checks work. In the days after the Virginia Tech rampage, all sides came together to provide funding and laws to get states to report mental health data. But, many states still do not do this simple thing. We should also revisit laws like the one rejected in the Connecticut Legislature last session that make it easier to compel treatment for mentally ill patients.
We also have to be honest with ourselves that 300,000,000 guns are not going away, nor is schizophrenia, nor elementary schools. We must seriously consider arming teachers and administrators but arms are not always firearms. We should consider adding Tasers and other less lethal devices and training on their use for the adults we trust to watch over our kids. These tools should sit in glass cases right next to the fire alarm and fire extinguisher. We should also consider allowing teachers who would carry a firearm to do just that.
Two things at Sandy Hook Elementary could have been different that morning. It could have been easier for a mental health professional to keep this shooter from becoming a danger. Failing that, teachers and administrators who chose to confront a deranged man should have in hand tools more effective than their bare hands.
About Gene Hoffman Chairman of the Calguns Foundation.
John Lott Author of 'More Guns, Less Crime.'
Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America
Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
John Hudak Fellow at the Brookings Institution
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner Cofounder and CEO of MomsRising