The new American Dream: Economic ruin and guns in every school

Activist Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink, is led away by security as she protests during a statement by National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, left, during a Friday news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting. (AP PHOTO)

We should have known the NRA would do something like this:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings.”

The National Rifle Association broke its silence on last week’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.

Right. That’s just what we need. Instead of putting our kids at the mercy of one gunman, let’s put them in a crossfire between multiple gunmen. Brilliant.

If the NRA gets its wish and Congress fails to reach a fiscal cliff compromise, we may soon be living through a second Great Depression in which armed combat at our schools is the new normal.

I suppose there’s a chance our politicians will do something reasonable with both fiscal policy and gun violence, but it’s looking pretty gloomy right now.

20 thoughts on “The new American Dream: Economic ruin and guns in every school

  1. WOW! Seth you are a hitting the egg nog a little early.

    I’ve never seen such hyperbole from an SD reporter in my life.

    • You’re right. I used some hyperbole to make a point. That’s part of blogging. It’s a stream-of-consciousness, knee-jerk kind of format.

      Yet the point remains. I am very concerned about the future of our country — more concerned than I’ve ever been, in fact — based on these two issues. The fiscal cliff fiasco has exposed, maybe more than ever before, the dysfunction of our political system. And the school shooting has exposed, absolutely more than ever before, a deep-rooted problem with gun violence in our country.

      I don’t think guns in schools is the answer. I am willing to debate that and will try to keep my cool. If we disagree with each other, maybe we can learn something.

      • Did Jerry Brown Gov of CA put a police officer at every school following the Ct shooting? I think so. I’m sure this is about detering repeaters and also ensuring a quick response time.

        Put me in the same boat as you about the future of our country. I was dumbfounded when I saw Noem, Thune and Johnson were all supporting the sequestration provision in “hopes” that they could work together but also saying how devastating sequestration would be for our economy.

        Raising taxes is not the end of the world and Thune and Noem are the two I’m most upset with. How can they vote for sequestration and not a 3% tax increase? They knowingly put our country in harm by supporting legislation. It’s unthinkable. ( when it comes to Johnson I’m looking forward to Rounds winning in ’14)

        If breaking a tax pledge is that big of a deal than going over the congressional created fiscal cliff because of 3% tax hikes should be considered treasonous.

        Taxes are going up whether we reach a deal or not so why not raise taxes and bipass the other negatives? (also Obama is out of control on spending)

  2. Sioux Falls already has a “resource officer” who is armed. I don’t think there is a wild west shoot out taking place in SF.

    We don’t need inexperienced teachers carrying a gun but judging by your logic police shouldn’t have guns either to stop criminals because a robber might have a gun and if a policeman has a gun that might cause the police or robber to shoot someone in crossfire…


    • If armed guards is the answer, how do you explain the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, in which 13 people were killed and 29 others were wounded? Wayne LaPierre says the only thing that’ll stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Well, there were good guys with guns everywhere at Fort Hood. It still happened, and it wasn’t any less deadly than other mass shootings.

      I think there are three main problems at work in the school shootings issue: a mental health network that, for reasons we need to research and address, is not catching and subduing the young men who do these kinds of attacks; a violence-glorifying culture of young manhood that includes grotesquely violent video games in which players literally practice mass shootings as if training for them; and too-easy access to firearms.

      Would putting an armed guard in a school help? I doubt it. The guard would have to be in exactly the right place at the right time. Remember: The Sandy Hook shooting lasted only about two minutes. If there had been an armed guard there, the guard could have missed all the action simply by being on the other end of the school when the shooting began. Or, the guard could have been in exactly the right spot and simply been the first victim, caught by surprise like everyone else.

      Beyond that, there’s something like 120,000 schools in this country. Do we have the resources to hire that many armed guards? Here in Mitchell alone, we’ve got three public elementary schools, a private elementary school, a private K-12 school, a public middle school and a public high school. That’s seven schools. Are we going to hire seven armed guards to patrol those schools? I once saw the Mitchell City Council reject the hiring of one police officer for which the council was offered a grant to cover the first few years of the officer’s salary, because the council didn’t want to be saddled with that single salary afterward. Also, if we’re going to post guards at schools, what about preschools? What about daycares? Tack on a few dozen more armed guards for Mitchell.

      For all of these reasons, I just don’t think armed guards are the answer. By the time a shooter gets confronted by an armed guard, it’s way too late. He’s already been raised in a gun-violence-glorifying culture. He’s already been missed by our mental health network. He’s acquired firearms, possibly the kind that can shoot dozens of rounds in seconds.

      Furthermore, if the perpetrators of these crimes are carrying military-style assault weapons, what then must we equip the armed guards with? Rocket launchers? The more you carry forward the logic of armed guards, the more you realize it’s just another outgrowth of the misguided idea that more guns is somehow a good way to stop gun violence. It’s like saying the best way to get somebody to stop smoking is to surround him with more smokers and cigarettes. To me, it just doesn’t make any sense.

      Could armed guards be part of the solution? Maybe. But it’s not the solution.

      • Firsti I want to say that Wayne Lapiere is an idiot who seeks confrontation out. The NRA would be best to go another direction.

        Secondly I understand your point but you also make mine.

        “Remember: The Sandy Hook shooting lasted only about two minutes.” The security guard also could have been the first victim or he could have slowed down the shooter until the police arived. Remember this guy shot himself at the first sign of the police. – The what ifs can all detract or they can be somewhere in the realm of reality.

        Essentially the police could never make it to this scene on time. Virginia Tech lasted 9 minutes if memory serves me right.

        That is why we need to look at response time and how to protect children and the innocent.

        As a member of the fire deptartment I understand that response time is everything. If the respnonse is too late then the whole house burns.

        A resource officer like they have in Sioux Falls might have been munching a donut on the other side of the school or he might have been visiting with the administrators who confronted Lanza. That would be a response time of seconds not minutes.

        Either way that response time probably would have saved the children by simply stalling the situation until the police arived. We are talking minutes here.

  3. Also I believe that most Army bases located in the US are similar to gun free zones. Soldiers do not carry weapons on bases inside the US. Research it if you like. But I think it might be a law and not a choice.

  4. Fort Hood soldiers did not have weapons because it was a base in the US. There for they were unarmed even on an army base.

  5. You’re kind of missing the point, Seth. If you only have one entrance to the school, the armed guard would be there, not off “munching a doughnut” somewhere else. So the response time would be minimal. The cost would be minimal compared to keeping our occupying troops in Afghanistan, dropping bombs on Pakistan and stirring things up in Syria.

    • If there was an armed guard at the main entrance, do you think the gunman would go to the main entrance? Remember, these attacks have usually been planned out far in advance. If the gunman knew there was an armed guard at the main entrance, he’d just go to a different entrance or window, don’t you think? Or, he’d just shoot the armed guard from a distance, before the guard even knew what was happening. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t ever have enough security at schools to protect them from everything, and that’s exactly why it’s such a folly to think that security at schools is the only answer to this problem. If it’s part of the solution, it should only be one part of a multi-faceted approach.

  6. No one said it’s the only answer, but it’s a start, certainly an action that can be taken while we wait for another study on the effects of violent video games and psychological drugs. How many more students and children have to be killed before we at least take some kind of common sense action?

  7. Seth’s essentially saying: We should do nothing to protect kids in a classroom. If a gunman comes into the school they should have to be unprotected until the police arive with water balloons to defend them. Maybe the police get there in 2 minutes and maybe they get there in 10 but once they get there they should check the guns they carry at the door because we don’t want trained officers with guns in a school.

    Give me a break!

    Police have guns for a reason. It’s the only way to stop psycho’s who want to kill innocent kids.

    Do what Sioux Falls does and put a resource officer in the school (that person has a gun). The NRA should have stayed out of this but being a political entity they don’t know how to do that.

    • That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that it’s foolhardy to think we can just put guns in schools, and that’ll solve the problem. I’m also saying it’s unrealistic to think we can or should have an armed guard in each one of the hundreds of thousands of schools across the country. And I’m also saying there are many, many other things we should be doing besides just considering armed guards in schools.

      For another take on this, check out Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves’ new column:

      • Unfortunately nothing can or will completely solve the problem. Bad people want to do bad things. Just like a terrorist attack we can stop them 1,000 times but they only need to succeed once. It’s sad but it’s the way the world works.

          • The thing is so far you’ve come up with no concrete proposal except to study the problem some more. Why not let each state or each school district come up with its own plan?

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