Politicians generally believe they must be seen as “doing something” in reaction to any given crisis, no matter whether that “something” is likely to be effective or not.
The Obama administration this past week decided to “do something” about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary by, among other things, calling for sweeping gun bans and restrictions. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal swung the pendulum in the other direction, promising to sign legislation to strap sidearms on school personnel.
Are there any cooler heads in elected office capable of reining in this runaway nonsense?
There is some hope. U.S. Rep. John Barrow, a member of the president’s own party, said after Obama’s announcements Wednesday, “I strongly disagree with proposals that would deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights, and I’m disappointed he did not propose increased security measures for our schools.”
Deal did call for more security measures, but local educators rightly characterize the proposal to arm principals as a “knee-jerk” response.
“Just a few years ago they took the paddle out of our hands, and now they’re gonna give us a gun?” quipped Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle.
“Every citizen needs to think back to their days in school, and I’m sure they can close their eyes and remember an angry administrator that they would not want a gun in their hands,” he added.
Richmond County just fired a teacher’s aide for slapping a 5-year-old. Think that couldn’t happen with a gun?
Greenbrier High School Principal Chris Segraves got it exactly right when he pointed out that educators aren’t law enforcement personnel, and aren’t hired or trained for their security expertise. The governor’s proposal would require that training, creating yet another non-educational role for educators to take on.
A visible sign of how the line between educators and law enforcement should be drawn is in the creation years ago of the school system’s public safety office. Trained, certified and armed, those officers are the right choice for helping to keep campuses safe.
Augmenting them are the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Capt. Steve Morris says that after Sandy Hook, deputies quietly stepped up patrols at schools, particularly elementary and middle schools that don’t have full-time safety officers.
In addition, those deputies aren’t just riding through parking lots; they’re going inside and walking through schools. That visible sign of support for school safety is reassuring.
None of those measures threaten infringement of the gun rights of citizens, as some of Obama’s would, nor create unnecessary safety risks, as Deal’s could. If we must “do something,” shouldn’t we do something that actually works?