"The only thing that
stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
- N.R.A. Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaking in favor of armed security guards in every school, as quoted in the December 21, 2012 New York Times.
It's all too terrible for satire. If only the gun lobby could realize that's what they're doing when they open their mouths...
Unfortunately, there are still those who would, whether for
reasons of naivety or a desire to establish a socialist dictatorship, question
the undeniable fact that the only solution to the risk of firearms falling into
the hands of deranged individuals is more firearms. Clearly, the founders of the American republic were
remarkably prescient in foreseeing not only the need for a well-regulated
militia, but by extension, understanding that a well-regulated militia minimally
requires the universal possession of fully automatic weapons with a rate of
fire so great that they would have doubtlessly brought about the successful
conclusion of the American revolution long before the first leaves of tea
settled to the bottom of Boston harbor had such weapons been in Patriot hands
at the time.
Sadly, there are those who still suggest that extorting the hard-earned profits of our job creators in order to support a repressive mental health system - or forcing us to demonstrate that we are wholly rational when purchasing a Predator drone with Hellfire missiles solely for our personal use - will somehow insure our safety.
Fortunately, saner voices are being heard throughout our land -- although their message is of yet too timid.
Let us consider the question of weapons and the need for their wider use.
First of all, it is important to remember that a firearm is a tool. In the early days of our nation -- and still today in small towns such as the one in which I reside -- a firearm was basically an agricultural tool, much like an axe or a plow. It provided families with access to protein sources that would otherwise not be available to them and served as a deterrent to crop loss from wolves, rodents and indigenous peoples. Few would question its validity in this context.
It is the essence of progress that humanity should always be searching for something better. From the time of the first proto-humans who learned to fashion spear tips from stone more than 70,000 years ago, it is fitting and proper that weapons, like all other technology, should continue to improve. One should no more expect the sportsperson of today to be reduced to antiquated mid-twentieth century technology such as a shotgun than it would be to expect him or her to be reduced to inserting a floppy disk into a 1970s-vintage computer. One burst from a fully automatic weapon readily reduces small game to chopped meat suitable for grilling, without requiring such needless and messy tasks such as skinning and butchering the carcass!
And once we accept the utility of state-of-the-art weaponry, the only remaining question becomes one of usage. The great fallacy of those who would limit access to assault weapons is the mistaken belief that their widespread availability somehow makes the world a more dangerous place. They attempt to justify this based on anecdotal evidence, but what they miss is the simple fact that, in spite of the good offices of the gun lobby, there are relatively few Americans who, even today, both own and carry assault weapons on a regular basis. Until their usage reaches the necessary critical mass, it would be unrealistic to expect widespread ownership of assault weapons to realize its full potential as a deterrent to crime and violence. Until such time as the idiot who tries to pass me on the right realizes that there is a significant chance that his action might be met by a burst of high-velocity gunfire, traffic laws will continue to be ignored and our roads will continue to be unsafe to drive on.
So here we come to the crux of the question. If it is indeed a given that public safety directly increases in relation to the number of people who routinely carry assault weapons, then I must respectfully suggest that public discourse on this matter has, of yet, been far too timid. A few brave souls have, for example, even suggested that teachers should be armed in order to insure the safety of their charges; and I assume that this precaution would also apply to hall monitors and crossing guards. Yet I cannot help but wonder whether even this would, in and of itself, be sufficient.
There is, of course, an obvious, logical solution to this quandary; and that is to arm the students. While it would not be realistic to expect students in the early grades to be mature enough to handle full assault rifles, one could readily start them on scaled-down weapons, such as the A-1 model of the M-4 -- although small, it is still a full assault weapon, capable of firing 5.65 millimeter cartridges at a rate of between 700 and 950 rounds per second when needed. The expectation would be that they would be able to graduate to full-sized weapons by the time they reached junior high school. Think of how much more peaceful the playground would be if everyone were fully armed. Pushing in a lunch line would become a thing of the past, and learning to field strip and re-assemble a weapon would provide students with an invaluable opportunity to perfect their hand-eye coordination -- an ability in which they might not otherwise gain proficiency in light of proposed cutbacks to physical education and extra-curricular activities. In a generation we would be able to achieve that City on a Hill - a nation in which everyone carries an assault weapon with them at all times.Of course there are those who would seek to dash so audacious a dream. But let us hope that the gun lobby rises to the occasion so that it may someday become a reality.