The legislature is forming a new committee to consider how to keep our schools more safe. Among the considerations is arming teachers. Speaker Tim Moore made sure to emphasize that no decisions have been made about what to do and that a lot of options are on the table.
I’m not ready to criticize Moore or the GOP for looking for solutions, even if I might not agree with everything that’s proposed. On school shootings, everything should be discussed. We need a broad discussion led more by parents, teachers, students and experts than by advocacy groups on either side. The instinct to retreat to ideological talking points on too many issues is part of the problem with our political dialogue.
I don’t believe more guns is going to reduce gun violence and I don’t believe heavily armed teachers will make our schools safer. However, if an active shooter came into my one of my kid’s schools, I would want somebody with the ability to shoot back. Maybe that would be a cop assigned to the school. Maybe it’s designated school personnel. I don’t know, but having somebody in the school with access to a firearm doesn’t seem crazy to me.
On the other hand, I don’t think we need to have legal assault weapons or clips that shoot thirty rounds. I don’t think a ban would stop mass shootings. I do think it would reduce the carnage. If the assault weapons ban had stayed in place, I don’t believe 50 people would have died in Las Vegas or 49 would have died in Orlando even if the shootings had taken place. I doubt that as many would have died in school shootings in Newtown or Parkland.
As for the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I don’t buy it. People may carry out the acts but assault weapons with high capacity clips kill more people than other guns. They are offensive weapons meant to maximize casualties. They’re going to kill more people than a deer rifle with a larger caliber.
The goal of this commission should be to open up a conversation that’s been restricted largely by the campaign money of the NRA. That said, it also shouldn’t be ceded to the people who believe the only problem is access to weapons. Republicans are correct that we need more mental health services. They should fund them. Gun rights activists might be right that we need to enforce the laws that are on the books. We need to make sure there’s money to do that, too.
We’re not going to ban guns. The Second Amendment is not going to be repealed. That said, a decision by the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia makes clear that certain restrictions on guns, including banning certain types, is constitutional. There’s no silver bullet to ending mass shootings. It’s going to take a lot of effort including looking at our country and our values to solve this problem, and we’ll never end it altogether.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >