NRA vs. TEA Party

On Friday, David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, and Wayne LaPierre, executive director and vice president, laid out the organization’s plan to curb violence in the nation’s schools. Rather than reduce the firepower of the nation’s wackos by restricting their access to military-style weapons, these Second Amendment fruitcakes want to put armed guards in all schools. According to the New York Times on Saturday, he suggests the use of armed volunteers as well as police officers.

To see how ridiculous the NRA plan is, first consider that the Department of Education says that there are 99,000 public and 33,000 private K-12 schools in the United States. According to the New York Times article cited above, approximately 23,000 schools are currently protected by armed guards. Most of these would be large high schools with more than one officer on-campus, not elementary or middle schools. Putting one armed security officer in the 110,000 schools that lack protection would require at least 150,000 additional full-time officers to cover sick time, vacation, and scheduling problems, plus 15,000 supervisors and 35,000 civilian support personnel. Some money could be saved by using non-police security guards, but is there a plausible argument that deploying Wackenhut or American Guard Services employees is the same as placing trained police officers? There are many disciplined, effective security guards, but they are not the same as police officers. The idea of arming volunteers and letting them roam around elementary schools is beyond ludicrous.

In 2008, the U.S. Census found 765,000 full-time sworn city, state and county police officers in the United States, supported by 370,000 civilian employees. Since these numbers probably declined in the recession, the NRA plan would require more than a 20% across-the-board increase in police employment. While some high schools have metal detectors to screen students as they enter, are we going to retro-fit our elementary and middle schools as if they were courthouses? Assuming it were feasible to hire that many officers, remodel the schools and buy the equipment, where would the money come from?

A vocal and aggressive minority of the electorate has developed a deep-seated aversion to paying taxes. A modest tax increase on the 2% of households with the highest income is being attacked by the Republican caucus as treason. The TEA Party and the NRA are pretty much the same constituency and a rank and file member of either group would stick his or her tongue in a light socket before voting for a tax increase.

There is also a philosophical breakdown in the NRA’s plan. The reason the NRA opposes any restriction on military-style weapons is that its members think they need 30-round magazines in semi-automatic rifles to defend themselves against the government. Now they suggest hiring and arming an additional 150,000 government personnel? It would not make sense, except that the NRA knows that the plan they are putting forward has no chance of implementation.

Would the NRA really support a plan that it knows would require a substantial tax increase? Is it ready to take on the TEA Party? That is about as likely as a cage fight between the Olsen twins.

The plan to put armed guards in all schools is a red herring. It is a silly alternative to cutting down on the availability of weapons that can fire 60 lethal rounds a minute – 30 or more rounds without replacing the magazine.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2012 John B. Payne, Attorney

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