Retiring Republican Rep. Ron Paul pushed back Monday against the National Rifle Association's call for installing armed officers in every school, warning that the move could create a TSA-style maze of checkpoints and surveillance cameras -- with limited effect.
"School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America," Paul said in a written statement.
The congressman, among the most libertarian-leaning on the Hill, is the first Republican in Congress to forcefully oppose the NRA's proposal. NRA head Wayne LaPierre on Friday urged federal funding to overhaul America's school security, a plan that would include posting a guard in every school.
LaPierre argued that, in the wake of the Connecticut mass murders, it only makes sense to protect students the same way the country protects banks and elected leaders -- with armed security.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.
But Paul -- who said he agrees that "more guns equals less crime" and "private gun ownership prevents many shootings" -- nevertheless chided the NRA for its plan, describing it as a government solution that could infringe on liberty.
"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 the 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," Paul said.
Paul, during his more than two decades in Congress and three presidential runs, has earned a reputation for going against the grain of his party. He has been famously anti-defense spending and anti-anything that smacks of too much government.
While chastising Democrats for their renewed calls for gun control, he claimed the call for more school officers is in the same vein.
"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 national tragedies is reflexive and often well intentioned," Paul said. "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 will be dissuaded or stopped."
He continued: "I don't agree that conservatives and libertarians should view government legislation, especially at the federal level, as the solution to violence. 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."