Category Archives: Order Out Of Chaos

Majoring in Minors: Turning Our Schools Into Totalitarian Enclaves

school_dees

huffingtonpost.com | Feb 2, 2013

by John W. Whitehead

Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from Columbine to Newtown has drastically altered the way young people are perceived and treated, transforming them from innocent bystanders into both victims and culprits. Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero-tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

In their zeal to make the schools safer, school officials have succumbed to a near-manic paranoia about anything even remotely connected to guns and violence, such that a child who brings a piece of paper loosely shaped like a gun to school is treated as harshly as the youngster who brings an actual gun. Yet by majoring in minors, as it were, treating all students as suspects and harshly punishing kids for innocent mistakes, the schools are setting themselves and us up for failure — not only by focusing on the wrong individuals and allowing true threats to go undetected but also by treating young people as if they have no rights, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations that are altogether ignorant of their rights as citizens and unprepared to defend them.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly harsh punishments and investigative tactics being doled out on young people for engaging in childish behavior or for daring to challenge the authority of school officials. Whereas in the past minor behavioral infractions at school such as shooting spitwads may have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, in-school detention or a phone call to one’s parents; today, they are elevated to the level of criminal behavior with all that implies. Consequently, young people are now being forcibly removed by police officers from the classroom, strip searched, arrested, handcuffed, transported in the back of police squad cars, and placed in police holding cells until their frantic parents can get them out. For those unlucky enough to be targeted for such punishment, the experience will stay with them long after they are allowed back at school. In fact, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record.

Consider the case of Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old elementary school student from the Bronx who got into a scuffle with a classmate over a $5 bill. In response to the incident, school officials called police, who arrested Reyes, transported him to the police station and allegedly handcuffed the child to a wall and interrogated him for ten hours about his behavior and the location of the money. His family is in the midst of pursuing a lawsuit against the police and the city for their egregious behavior.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal, a woman, reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

And in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy accused by an anonymous tipster of holding drugs was taken to a locker room by two security guards, a Chicago police officer, and a female assistant principal, and made to stand against a wall and drop his pants while one of the security guards inspected his genitals. No drugs were found.

That students as young as seven years old are being strip searched by school officials, over missing money no less, flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Safford Unified. Sch. Dist. v. Redding. Insisting that Arizona school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her on the suspicion she was hiding ibuprofen in her underwear, the justices declared that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

Precedent-setting or not, however, the Court’s ruling has done little to improve conditions for young people who are the unfortunate casualties in the schools’ so-called quest for “student safety.” Indeed, with each school shooting, the climate of intolerance for “unacceptable” behavior such as getting into food fights, playing tag, doodling, hugging, kicking, and throwing temper tantrums only intensifies. And as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, the punishments being meted out for childish behavior grow harsher.

Even the most innocuous “infractions” are being shown no leniency, with school officials expelling a 6-year-old girl for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, issuing a disciplinary warning to a 5-year-old boy who brought a toy gun built out of LEGOs to class, and pulling out of school a fifth-grade girl who had a “paper” gun with her in class. The six-year-old kindergarten student in South Carolina was classified as such a threat that she’s not even allowed on school grounds. “She cannot even be in my vehicle when I go to pick up my other children,” said the girl’s mom, Angela McKinney.

Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick’s favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

School officials are also exhibiting zero tolerance for the age-old game of cops and robbers, a playground game I played as a child. In a new wrinkle on this old game, however, it’s not the cop who gets the bad guy. Now, the game ends when school officials summon real cops who arrest the kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime. That happened at a New Jersey school, from which four little boys were suspended for pretending their fingers were guns. Most recently, two children at two different schools in Maryland were suspended in the same month for separate incidents of pretending their fingers were guns. In another instance, officials at a California elementary school called police when a little boy was caught playing cops and robbers at recess. The principal told the child’s parents their child was a terrorist.

Unwittingly, the principal was right on target: These are acts of terrorism, however, the culprits are not overactive schoolchildren. Rather, those guilty of terrorizing young children and parents nationwide are school officials who — in an effort to enforce zero tolerance policies against violence, weapons and drugs — have moved our schools into a lockdown mentality.

Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun, pretend or otherwise, to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what TIME magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Indeed, at least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are actually expellable offenses.

Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 9-year-old boy in Manassas, Va., who gave a Certs breath mint to a classmate, was actually suspended, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. After students at a Texas school were assigned to write a “scary” Halloween story, one 13-year-old chose to write about shooting up a school. Although he received a passing grade on the story, school officials reported him to the police, resulting in his spending six days in jail before it was determined that no crime had been committed.

These incidents, while appalling, are the byproducts of an age that values security over freedom, where police have relatively limitless powers to search individuals and homes by virtue of their badge, and where the Constitution is increasingly treated as a historic relic rather than a bulwark against government abuses. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but the future doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting — not for freedom as we know it, and certainly not for the young people being raised on a diet of abject compliance to police authority, intolerance for minor offenses, overt surveillance and outright totalitarianism.

Newtown residents join gun control march in Washington

-guncontrol2-9a.photoblog600
People walk from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, during a march on Washington for gun control. Susan Walsh / AP

NBC News | Jan 26, 2013

By Becky Bratu

Residents of Newtown, Conn., the scene of a school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed last month, joined thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday for a march supporting gun control.

Similar organized demonstrations were planned in support of gun control in about a dozen other places across the United States, according to organizers.

In addition to the 100 people who traveled together from Newtown, organizers told The Associated Press participants from New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia would join the demonstration.

Alongside Mayor Vincent Gray, a crowd that stretched for about two blocks marched down Constitution Avenue toward the Washington Monument, where speakers called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition. Some of the demonstrators held signs that read “We Are Sandy Hook.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed the crowd, saying he and President Barack Obama would work to enact gun control policies, the AP reported.

“This is about trying to create a climate in which our children can grow up free of fear,” he said, according to the AP.

“We must act, we must act, we must act,” Duncan said.

According to the AP, demonstrators held signs that read “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” “Stop NRA” and “Gun Control Now.” Other signs carried the names of victims of gun violence.

The silent march is organized by Molly Smith, artistic director of Washington’s Arena Stage, and her partner.

“With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me. And then, it’s as if I move on,” Smith told the AP. “And in this moment, I can’t move on. I can’t move on.

“I think it’s because it was children, babies,” she told the AP. “I was horrified by it.”

The event is co-sponsored by One Million Moms for Gun Control, an independent organization that is also responsible for similar demonstrations in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

The Newtown massacre has reignited the debate over firearms in the United States, and last week Obama laid out a series of measures intended to curb gun violence, most significantly proposals to limit the size of ammunition magazines, ban assault weapons and require universal background checks on firearm purchases. That plan won little praise from Republicans.

Earlier this month, New York lawmakers approved the toughest gun control law in the nation, expanding the state’s existing assault weapons ban and addressing gun ownership by those with mental illnesses.

Feinstein calls for banning more than 150 types of firearms during dramatic press conference

dailycaller.com | Jan 24, 2013

by Alex Pappas

Sen-Feinstein-America-Has-To-Bite-The-Bullet-On-Gun-ControlWASHINGTON — California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein staged a dramatic press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill with 10 weapons at her side and unveiled legislation instituting a government ban on more than 150 types of firearms, including rifles, pistols and shotguns.

Flanked by other anti-gun liberal lawmakers, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Feinstein announced the introduction of the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.”

The legislation being pushed by Feinstein — who has long history of calling for gun bans — would prohibit the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of certain firearms.

Click to expand full list of guns Feinstein wants banned:

During the press event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Democrats described these firearms as “dangerous military-style assault weapons.” The bill would also ban high-capacity ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein said the country’s “weak” gun laws allow massacres like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occur.

“Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that — but it’s a battle worth having,” Feinstein said in literature handed to reporters at the Thursday event.

Others who joined the Democrats for the press conference included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Washington National Cathedral dean Gary R. Hall. (RELATED: Episcopal dean of National Cathedral teams up with Democrats on guns)

This sort of stunt from Feinstein — displaying weapons for dramatic effect while discussing new gun laws — is hardly new. Joe Morrissey, a Democratic delegate in Virginia, caught some colleagues by surprise last week by bringing an AK-47 onto the floor of the House of Delegates while calling for gun control.

And David Gregory, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” found himself in hot water for displaying a high-capacity gun magazine during an interview with a leader of the National Rifle Association in December. NBC studios are in Washington D.C., where having possession of such magazines is illegal. While DC police investigated the incident, no charges were filed.

The Treasury Has Already Minted Two Trillion Dollar Coins

What the advocates of the $1 trillion coin are, therefore, proposing is to tax us in a hidden way.  This is not just taxation without representation.  It’s also taxation with misrepresentation.

While inflation, let alone hyperinflation, has not yet occurred, everything is in place for this outcome. 

forbes.com | Jan 19, 2013

by Laurence Kotlikoff

No doubt, you’ve heard about the latest irresponsible fiscal/monetary proposal to be floated by members of Congress and the erstwhile economist, Paul Krugman, whose lunch was just eaten by Jon Stewart.  

It entails having the Treasury avoid the federal debt limit by handing the Federal Reserve a single $1 trillion platinum coin.  The Fed would then credit the Treasury’s bank account with $1 trillion, which the Fed could spend on the President’s lunch, a $200 toilet seat, a new aircraft carrier, more Medicare spending – anything it wants.

Is there anything special about platinum? Well, yes.  The coin doesn’t have to contain $1 trillion worth of platinum.  It can be microscopic for all the Fed cares as long as they can use a electron microscope to read the $1 trillion In God We Trust inscription.   But it has to be made out of platinum.  No other metal or substance, like a piece of pizza, will do.  The reason is that the Treasury has the right, by an obscure law, to mint platinum coins, but only platinum coins.  Otherwise, making money by making money is the Fed’s domain.

Countries that pay for what they spend by printing money or, these days, creating it electronically, are usually broke.  That certainly fits our bill.

Our country is completely, entirely, and thoroughly broke.  In fact, we’re in worst fiscal shape than any developed country, including Greece.   We have fantastically large expenditures coming due in the form of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments to the baby boom generations – I.O.U.s, which we’ve conveniently kept off the books.

When the boomers are fully retired, Uncle Sam will need to cough up $3 trillion (in today’s dollars) per year to pay us (I’m one of us.) these benefits.   To put $3 trillion in perspective, it’s 1.5 times Russia’s GDP.

These benefits are called entitlements because, presumably, we feel we are entitled to hit up our children to cover their costs.  Borrowing from them and letting them tax themselves and their kids to pay themselves back is a good trick, but it’s running afoul of the debt ceiling.  Taxing them more and promising to the pay them benefits they’ll never receive is an old trick that’s run its course.  So we’re now onto printing money that will, we hope, raise prices only after we have protected our assets against inflation.

And we’re printing lots and lots of money.  Indeed, over the past five years, the Treasury has, in effect, done its $1 trillion coin trick twice.

Come again?

Well, substitute a $2 trillion piece of paper called a Treasury bond for the platinum coin.  Suppose the Treasury prints up such a piece of paper and hands it to the Fed and the Fed puts $2 trillion into its account.  No difference right, except for the lack of platinum.

Next suppose the Treasury doesn’t hand the $2 trillion bond to the Fed directly, but hands it to John Q. Public who gives the Treasury $2 trillion and then hands the bond to the Fed in exchange for $2 trillion.  What’s the result?  It’s the same.  The Treasury has $2 trillion to spend.  John Q. Public has his original $2 trillion.  And the Fed is holding the piece of paper labeled U.S. Treasury bond.

Finally, suppose the Treasury does this operation in smaller steps and over five years, specifically between 2007 and today.  It sells, i.e., hands to John Q. in exchange for money, smaller denomination bonds, which Johns Q. sells to the Fed, i.e., hands to the Fed in exchange for money.   Further, suppose the sum total of all these bond sales to the public and Fed purchases of the bonds from the public equals $2 trillion.  Voila, you’ve got U.S. monetary policy since 2007.

In 2007, the monetary base – the amount of money our government printed in its entire 231 years of existence totaled $800 billion.  Today it totals $2.8 trillion.  And it increased by this amount via the process just described – the Treasury’s effective minting out of thin air two $1 trillion platinum coins.

Now what happens when the Treasury spends its freebee money?  It raises prices of the goods and services we buy or keeps them from falling as much as would otherwise be the case.  Either way, the money we have in our pockets or in the bank or coming to us over time as, for example, interest plus principal on bonds we’ve bought in the past – all this money loses purchasing power.  So we are effectively taxed $2 trillion.

What the advocates of the $1 trillion coin are, therefore, proposing is to tax us in a hidden way.  This is not just taxation without representation.  It’s also taxation with misrepresentation.   The fact that a Nobel Laureate in economics would propose this without making clear this fact raises the question of whether his prize should be revoked.  Lance Armstrong, after all, is losing his medals for discrediting his profession.  Perhaps the Nobel committee should consider taking back Krugman’s.

This is no innocent omission.  Every PhD economist is taught about seigniorage.  It’s a term that was coined (excuse the pun) in the 15th century and stems from the right of feudal lords – seignurs – to coin money, use it to buy, say, chickens and debase the purchasing power of the coins they had given their serfs in the past for, say, wild boar.

Today, 12 cents out of ever dollar being spent by our government is being printed.  As indicated, the money supply has more than tripled.  While inflation, let alone hyperinflation, has not yet occurred, everything is in place for this outcome.  If you want to see what things will look like, check out Zimbabwe, which has surely been reading Krugman’s articles.

White House considers funding for police in schools after Newtown

biden
Vice President Joe Biden says a consensus is emerging over proposals such as tightening background checks and banning high-capacity magazines. Biden says he will deliver recommendations to President Obama on steps to curb violence by Tuesday.

washingtonpost.com | Jan 10, 2013

By Philip Rucker

The Obama administration is considering a $50 million plan to fund hundreds of police officers in public schools, a leading Democratic senator said, part of a broad gun violence agenda that is likely to include a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and universal background checks.

The school safety initiative would make federal dollars available to schools that want to hire police officers and install surveillance equipment, although it is not nearly as far-ranging as the National Rifle Association’s proposal for armed guards in every U.S. school.

The idea is gaining currency among some Democratic lawmakers, who see it as a potential area of common ground with Republicans who otherwise oppose stricter restrictions on firearms. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat from California, said she presented the plan to Vice President Biden and that he was “very, very interested” and may include it in the policy recommendations he makes to President Obama.

“If a school district wants to have a community policing presence, I think it’s very important they have it,” Boxer said in an interview Thursday. “If they want uniformed officers, they can do it. If they want plainclothed officers, they can do it.”

But hope of finding an accord over gun laws dimmed considerably Thursday after the NRA lashed out publicly against what it called the administration’s “agenda to attack the Second Amendment” after meeting with Biden and senior White House officials.

Biden plans to present recommendations from the administration’s working group on gun violence to Obama next Tuesday. The vice president said Thursday that he sees an emerging consensus around “universal background checks” for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Obama, meanwhile, has said he also supports a ban on assault weapons.

The gun industry has long opposed these restrictions,and the NRA said after its 95-minute White House meeting that it would have nothing more to do with Biden’s task force, foreshadowing a partisan and emotionally charged fight over gun control.

“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems,” the NRA said in a statement. “We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”

Biden met with other gun-owner groups as well as representatives of hunting and sporting organizations Thursday as he surveys interest groups in the wake of last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. met separately Thursday with major gun retailers, including Wal-Mart. Biden already has spoken with law enforcement leaders, gun violence victims and gun-safety groups and has had conference calls with governors and other state and local elected officials of both parties.

Biden said that, going into Thursday’s meetings, his task force heard repeatedly about the need to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He said the proposals would go beyond closing a loophole that exempts some private firearms sales, such as transactions at gun shows, from background checks.

Full Story

Obama gun plan may feature gun bans, universal federal background checks on all buyers

Vice President Joe Biden meets on gun violence with sport shooting and wildlife interest group representatives
Vice President Joe Biden meets with representatives of sport shooting and wildlife interest groups in Washington, part of his work on proposals to curb gun violence. (Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images / January 10, 2013)

Vice President Joe Biden, preparing recommendations for President Obama on curbing gun violence, mentions ‘universal background checks’ and bans on some weapons and components.

latimes.com | Jan 10, 2013

By Michael A. Memoli and Melanie Mason

WASHINGTON — Requiring all gun buyers to pass a federal background check could be a key part of a White House plan to combat mass shootings, Vice President Joe Biden indicated as he prepared to present recommendations to the president on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Biden said he had found a “surprising recurrence of suggestions” for “universal background checks” in meetings with interest groups. Background checks are not required in private sales by unlicensed dealers, including transactions at gun shows.

Biden is expected to propose measures that President Obama could institute by executive action, as well as proposed laws, such as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The quick movement to roll out potential remedies to mitigate gun violence — ahead of schedule and just days before Obama and Biden are sworn into a second term — is a signal of the urgency the White House aims to project in developing a response to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting, which led to the deaths of 20 young students and six staff members.

“The public wants us to act,” Biden said.

But the National Rifle Assn., which sent a representative to Biden’s meeting Thursday with gun organizations, issued a chilly statement, an indication of the challenge ahead.

“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems,” the NRA statement said. “We will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not.”

The White House was circumspect, noting only that the meeting lasted more than an hour and a half and providing a photo of a table surrounded by stony faces.

Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Assn., said that although there were some tense moments, “it was a conversation, not a lecture.”

Feldman, a former NRA official whose current group is more open to tighter gun laws, said he told administration officials, “If we focus on the gun, we miss the opportunity to zero in on the problem that unifies us, which is in whose hands are the guns.”

Since being tapped by Obama to head the White House response to the shooting, Biden and other administration officials have met with an array of groups, including mental health professionals, law enforcement and clergy. On Thursday, Biden also met with hunters, conservationists and entertainment industry officials. On Friday, he plans to meet with representatives from the video game industry.

Biden told reporters he expected to present his recommendations to Obama on Tuesday, well ahead of his end-of-the-month deadline. The White House has indicated that the president will then quickly “announce a concrete package of proposals he intends to push without delay.”

“I’m not sure we can guarantee this will never happen again, but as the president said, even if we can only save one life, it would make sense,” Biden said. “And I think we can do a great deal without in any way imposing on and impinging on the rights of the 2nd Amendment.”

Another recommendation, Biden said, could be to gather information on “what kind of weapons are used most to kill people” and “what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons.” Since the mid-1990s, Congress has restricted federal agencies’ research into gun violence.

Earlier this week, Biden indicated that his recommendations could include actions Obama can take without congressional approval. “We’re not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, were going to do nothing,” he said.

Biden’s comments reflect the political reality in Congress. The House is controlled by Republicans who have been resistant to new gun restrictions. In the Senate, Democrats are shy of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and some of them face difficult reelections in 2014, when pro-gun groups could try to defeat them.

Actions are also possible at the state level.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he hopes his state will set the tone for new federal gun laws, and he vowed Wednesday to “enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation, period.”

“We must stop the madness, my friends,” the Democratic governor said, insisting that his proposal was not aimed at hunters and sportsmen. “I own a Remington shotgun. I’ve hunted. I’ve shot. That’s not what this is about. It is about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles.”

Cuomo wants New York to ban online ammunition sales and ban high-capacity magazines; require background checks even on private weapons sales; and stiffen penalties for illegal weapons possession. He also called for laws to keep weapons away from the mentally ill.

Also Wednesday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, promised “to make specific, actionable recommendations in the areas of school safety, mental health services and gun violence prevention.”

But he noted that state action had its limits. “This conversation must take place nationally. As long as weapons continue to travel up and down I-95, what is available for sale in Florida can have devastating consequences here in Connecticut,” he said.

NRA calls for armed police officer in every school

Associated Press | Dec 21, 2012

By PHILIP ELLIOTT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Guns and police officers in all American schools are what’s needed to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings,” the National Rifle Association declared Friday, taking a no-retreat stance in the face of growing calls for gun control after the Connecticut shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the group’s chief executive officer.

Some members of Congress who had long scoffed at gun-control proposals have begun to suggest some concessions could be made, and a fierce debate over legislation seems likely next month. President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now.”

The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a defiant presentation. The event was billed as a news conference, but NRA leaders took no questions. Twice, they were interrupted by banner-waving protesters, who were removed by security.

Some had predicted that after the slaughter of a score of elementary-school children by a man using a semi-automatic rifle, the group might soften its stance, at least slightly. Instead, LaPierre delivered a 25-minute tirade against the notion that another gun law would stop killings in a culture where children are exposed daily to violence in video games, movies and music videos. He argued that guns are the solution, not the problem.

“Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else; as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work,” LaPierre said. “And by that I mean armed security.”

He said Congress should immediately appropriate funds to post an armed police officer in every school. Meanwhile, he said the NRA would develop a school emergency response program that would include volunteers from the group’s 4.3 million members to help guard children.

His armed-officers idea was immediately lambasted by gun control advocates, and not even the NRA’s point man on the effort seemed willing to go so far. Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, whom LaPierre named national director of the program, said in an interview that decisions about armed guards in schools should be made by local districts.

“I think everyone recognizes that an armed presence in schools is sometimes appropriate,” Hutchinson said. “That is one option. I would never want to have a mandatory requirement for every school district to have that.”

He also noted that some states would have to change their laws to allow armed guards at schools.

Hutchinson said he’ll offer a plan in January that will consider other measures such as biometric entry points, patrols and consideration of school layouts to protect security.

LaPierre argued that guards need to be in place quickly because “the next Adam Lanza,” the suspected shooter in Newtown, Conn., is already planning an attack on another school.

“How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?” LaPierre asked. “A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”

While there is a federally maintained database of the mentally ill — people so declared by their states — a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that states can’t be required to contribute information has left significant gaps. In any case, creation of a mandatory national database probably would have had little impact on the ability of suspected shooters in four mass shootings since 2011 to get and use powerful weapons. The other people accused either stole the weapons used in the attacks or had not been ruled by courts to be “mentally defective” before the shootings.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NRA is blaming everyone but itself for a national gun crisis and is offering “a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the NRA’s response “both ludicrous and insulting” and pointed out that armed personnel at Columbine High School and Fort Hood could not stop mass shootings. The liberal group CREDO, which organized an anti-NRA protest on Capitol Hill, called LaPierre’s speech “bizarre and quite frankly paranoid.”

“This must be a wake-up call even to the NRA’s own members that the NRA’s Washington lobbyists need to stand down and let Congress pass sensible gun control laws now,” CREDO political director Becky Bond said in a statement.

The NRA’s proposal would be unworkable given the huge numbers of officers needed, said the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Craig Steckler.

He pointed to budget cuts and hiring freezes and noted that in his hometown of Fremont, Calif., it would take half the city’s police force to post one officer at each of the city’s 43 schools.

The Department of Education has counted 98,817 public schools in the United States and an additional 33,366 private schools.

There already are an estimated 10,000 school resource officers, most of them armed and employed by local police departments, in the nation’s schools, according to Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Gun rights advocates on Capitol Hill had no immediate comment. They will have to walk a tough road between pressure from the powerful NRA, backed by an army of passionate supporters, and outrage over the Sandy Hook deaths that has already swayed some in Congress to adjust their public views.

A CNN/ORC poll taken this week found 52 percent of Americans favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal. Forty-six percent of people questioned said government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence, up 13 percentage points from two years ago in the wake of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and wounded then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Since the Connecticut slayings, President Obama has demanded action against U.S. gun violence and has called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals that he can take to Congress next month.

Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would stop people from purchasing firearms from private sellers without background checks. Obama also has indicated he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity firearms magazines.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said former President Bill Clinton called her with an offer to help get an assault weapons ban reinstated. Clinton signed such a ban into law in 1994, but it expired after 10 years.

Feinstein said she’s not opposed to having armed guards at schools, but she called the NRA proposal a distraction from what she said was the real problem: “easy access to these killing machines” that are far “more powerful and lethal” than the guns that were banned under the old law.