We protect our president, our celebrities, and our airports with armed gunmen; yet our most precious commodity, our children, have been left in the hands of selfless educators willing to serve as human shields and a brave boy who knows karate and volunteers to “lead the way out.”
It shouldn’t be that way.
The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting is yet another wake-up call that our school children deserve something more and something soon.
Friday, National Rifle Association (NRA) Vice President Wayne LaPierre said it’s time for parents and this country to get involved in a plan of absolute protection. He said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”
The NRA is recommending armed security at every school in America as soon as kids return from holiday break. LaPierre announced NRA funding of the National School Shield Program, which will focus on providing the highest level of security to protect our children.
Long time gun control advocate and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted the NRA for what he calls offering a “paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”
Let it be noted, the mayor who has passed a ban on super-sized soft drinks to protect his citizens from too much sugar, will not support an obvious, immediate step to protect his school children from a mass murderer. The truth is, most mass shootings in the US have taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms. In essence, the victims are sitting ducks and the armed gunmen know it.
Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead the NRA effort. The former Director of the Drug Enforcement Agency tells me the NRA is making a serious commitment to school safety and in his view “this is too important an issue to trust the federal government to do.”
Gun control advocates say more guns are not the answer. New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg says, “The NRA leadership is wildly out of touch with its own members, responsible gun owners, and the American public who want to close dangerous loopholes and enact common-sense gun safety reform.”
The fact is, Sen. Lautenberg is out of touch.
A recent Gallup poll finds more than half (53%) of Americans view increased police presence at schools as a very effective way to prevent mass shootings at schools. Those polled also suggest increased spending on mental health screening and treatment, decreased violence in movies and video games, followed by a ban on assault and semi-automatic guns.
I was a reporter during the Jonesboro, Arkansas school shootings in March of 1998 in which four students and a teacher were gunned down by two young boys. The killers pulled a fire alarm at Westside Middle School and ran out into nearby woods. As teachers and students sought safety outside, they were easy targets in the crosshairs of the killers. I remember the crime scene tape in the schoolyard, shell -shocked first responders, and grief-stricken parents and students. Like Newtown, Jonesboro is a small town where this kind of violence didn’t happen, until that day.
We asked the same questions fourteen years ago. Is it the guns? Is it mental illness? Is it violent movies? What can we do to make sure this never happens again?
Over the years, we have learned mass shootings are a sad cocktail of many poisons.
We need to pay closer attention to identifying and treating those with mental illness.
We need to stop the availability of graphic violence in movies and video games. Liberals in Hollywood need to accept their share of the responsibility.
When we have a mass murderer, dressed up like the Joker, gun down innocent moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado; it’s difficult to dispute the influence of the entertainment industry on the mindset of a killer.
Yet, Director Quinton Tarantino says he’s tired of the criticism of violence in his films. He says, “I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers…. Give me a break.”
Give us a break. LaPierre calls out this senseless violence that Hollywood hails as “entertainment.” He asks, “Is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?”
We are in a day and age where everyone is fighting for their rights.
Mental health advocates fight against involuntary commitment under the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The “playmakers” fight for their artistic expression of free speech under the First Amendment.
Gun owners fight for the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
Along with these precious American rights, come responsibilities. Our number one responsibility is protection of our children. Let’s get that right, right now.
Alice Stewart is a Republican Consultant and Radio Talk Show host on KHTE in Little Rock, Arkansas. She served as Communications Director for Mike Huckabee for President in 2008, Michele Bachman for President in 2012, and Press Secretary for Rick Santorum for President in 2012.