The National Rifle Association stayed politely quiet during the first week following the child massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut - but yesterday, one week exactly after the shooting that left twenty-eight dead - including twenty first graders - NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre finally made his way to a microphone. The NRA had promised to make a significant contribution to the national discussion following the shooting. Sadly, the gun lobby's contribution amounted to one bumper sticker slogan ("The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.") and a recommendation that every school in America be staffed with an armed rent-a-cop.
LaPierre, who reportedly makes a cool million dollars a year trying to put a human face on the gun industry, suggested that these rent-a-cops could be paid for by the federal government.
Really, Wayne? Is that all there is to the NRA solution? Put a Barney Fife, or worse yet a George Zimmerman, in every school in America and arm them? You sir, are nuts! There was a reason that Andy made Barney keep the bullet in his shirt pocket. And if Congress saw fit to enact your wacko recommendation into law, why should the American public have to fund it. Right now we are failing miserably at even funding basic education. No, if guns are the problem - and despite your sloganeering, they certainly are - then the gun industry and gun users should fund the plan - through taxes on weapon and ammunition production and sales.
But the plan sucks. Rent-a-cops will serve only to increase the level of danger in schools. There are better ways to make schools safer - and most involve putting some basic commonsense controls on the gun industry.
If Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association have nothing helpful to contribute to the national discussion on gun violence other than pitching slogans and pointing fingers, perhaps they should sit back and let the adults address the issue. Yes, there are some very basic things that can be done which will not interfere with the "right" to be armed - an effective ban on automatic weapons, elimination of monster gun clips, and getting rid of the gun show loophole are three no-brainers - and a room full of responsible citizens will probably come up with more.
America's schools must not become shooting galleries. Our children deserve schools that are as safe and as welcoming as their homes.