Rep. Ron Paul, not one to shy away from controversy, has blasted the National Rifle Association for proposing that every school hire armed guards to protect against mass shootings, and has also condemned liberals for promoting more government control of guns.
Referring to the massacre in Newtown, Conn., Paul said, "Predictably, the political left responded to the tragedy with emotional calls for increased gun control. This is understandable, but misguided. The impulse to have government 'do something' to protect us in the wake of national tragedies is reflexive and often well intentioned. Many Americans believe that if we simply pass the right laws, future horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can be prevented. But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don't obey laws. The political right, unfortunately, has fallen into the same trap in its calls for quick legislative solutions to gun violence. If only we put armed police or armed teachers in schools, we're told, would-be school shooters would be dissuaded or stopped. While I certainly agree that more guns equals less crime and that private gun ownership prevents many shootings. I don't agree that conservatives and libertarians should view government legislation, especially at the federal level, as the solution to violence."
Paul is one of the few Republican members of Congress to criticize the right over the gun issue. He is retiring from Congress but remains an iconic figure among libertarians.
Criticizing the NRA proposal, Paul said, "Do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, x-ray scanners and warrantless physical searches? We see this culture in our airports, witness this shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders. This is the world of government provided 'security,' a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse." He argued that the federal government should not try to "pursue unobtainable safety" with state-approved security precautions, and said the government has "zero moral authority to legislate against violence."
Paul, a long-time congressman from Texas, added that the left and right are on the wrong track regarding the gun issue. "School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America," Paul said. "....Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal because it would require total state control over its citizens' lives. We shouldn't settle for substituting one type of violence over another."
He argued that new laws won't stop a mentally disturbed individual from getting a gun and killing people, as happened at the massacre in Newtown nearly two weeks ago. Twenty-six people were killed, including 20 children.
Paul said, "Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America, meaning a society based on family, religion, civic and social institutions, and peaceful cooperation through markets."
Paul ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination this year, supporting a severely restricted role for the federal government in national life and fewer U.S. military interventions abroad. He retains a strong following around the country and has pledged to continue speaking out on public issues after he leaves Congress this month.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.