Thursday, October 15, 2015

School-Shooting Remedies: True and False

It’s no mystery why school shootings—which have taken nine innocent lives at Umpqua Community College, 13 at Columbine High, 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary, and 32 at Virginia Tech—shake us to our core. Understandably, each massacre has kicked off another round in the national debate about violence, mental health, and gun policy. Unfortunately, too often the leading proposed reforms arise from wishful thinking instead of hard-headed realism, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Sheldon Richman.

Leading the pack of proposals based on wishful thinking—“pie-in-the-sky utopianism,” Richman calls it in his op-ed for the Courier-Post—is President Obama’s push for “universal” background checks. But background checks can’t prevent miscreants bent on obtaining firearms in a nation with at least 300 million guns. Moreover, nearly all of the recent shooters passed a background check, whereas others acquired guns from people who owned them legally, Richman notes. Despite these facts, the gun-control utopians continue to deride one measure that could make a world of difference: enable people to fight back—and even discourage mass shootings from taking place—by dropping restrictions that forbid innocent adults from carrying concealed firearms for self-defense.

“While the realists’ proposal to allow well-intentioned people to carry concealed handguns to class, church, theater, and workplace would hardly prevent or limit all mass shootings, it undoubtedly would help,” Richman writes. “Utopians object that an armed defender might accidentally shoot an innocent person. That’s obviously true, but that possibility has to be contrasted with the certainty of what will happen when the person bent on mass murder is the only one with a gun. Utopia is not an option.”


Trump: Armed Teachers Would Protect Students from Gun Violence

GOP presidential contender Donald Trump told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he’s in favor of arming teachers, especially in the wake of the Oregon school shooting, saying “you would have been a lot better when this maniac walked into class starting to shoot people.”

“I think that if you had the teacher, assuming they knew how use a weapon, which hopefully they would, you would have been a lot better when this maniac walked into class starting to shoot people,” said Trump.

Trump told host John Dickerson that he has a concealed weapons permit, which he got years ago to protect himself.

“Would you advise -- in the context of current gun violence, would you advise people to get that?” Dickerson asked.

“Well, I'm a big Second Amendment person, big, as you probably know,” said Trump. “Like, I'm coming out with a book in another three or four weeks called ‘Crippled America,’ tough words, ‘Crippled America.’ I talk a lot about the Second Amendment in the book.

“Had they had -- as an example, for the horrible thing that just took place, OK, horrible, in Oregon, had they -- had somebody in that room had a gun, the result would have been better,” added Trump, referring to the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Oct. 1, which claimed the lives of nine people.

“So, should people get armed the way you are?” Dickerson asked.

“Well, that's up to them, but I will tell you, I feel much better be armed,” Trump replied.

“What about teachers?” asked Dickerson.

“I think that if you had the teacher, assuming they knew how use a weapon, which hopefully they would, you would have been a lot better when this maniac walked into class starting to shoot people,” said Trump.


Duncan Departs, but Federal Education Waste Lives On

Arne Duncan is stepping down as federal Education Secretary, but the Washington Post news story of almost 3,000 words left out some key details. Duncan, one of the president’s Chicago pals, has been the federal point man against school choice. As we noted, the current president, like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter before him, does not send his own children to the dysfunctional and dangerous Washington, DC, public schools. In 2009, the same year Duncan became federal ED boss, the Washington Post said needy DC families also “want only a quality education for their children.” Their few alternatives included charter schools and the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provided vouchers of up to $7,500 for low-income students to attend the independent schools of their choice. Teacher unions and federal educrats oppose all school-choice programs, and Arne Duncan captains their squad.

As the Post said, “Mr. Duncan decided – disappointingly to our mind – to rescind scholarships awarded to 216 families for this upcoming school year.” Duncan didn’t just oppose the scholarship program in principle. He took away scholarships already awarded, in effect taking points off the scoreboard. Those deprived families were virtually all black. And as the Post said, “nine out of 10 students who were shut out of the scholarship program this year are assigned to attend failing public schools.” Arne Duncan banished them to the losing team, but that is not the only reason he was out of place.

The federal Department of Education dates only from 1978 and was Jimmy Carter’s payoff to teacher unions for endorsing him in his run for president. The Department now commands a budget of nearly $70 billion. As Vicki Alger notes, student achievement has not improved under the bloated federal bureaucracy, where salaries average $100,000, with executives bagging an average of $170,000.

As we also observed, the U.S. Department of Education deploys an armed enforcement division they claim fights “waste, fraud, abuse and other criminal activity.” The Department actually represents institutionalized waste, fraud and abuse, and that is unlikely to change after the departure of Arne Duncan.


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