Counterpoint: Armed guards don’t address the real problem

Laura Turner, Staff Writer

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In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association (NRA) proposed a solution to what seems to be America’s unique pandemic of school shootings: place an armed guard at the entrance of every school in the country.

According to Wayne LaPierre, Vice President of the NRA, armed guards are a viable solution for the problem of gun violence because “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  Wrong.  Armed guards in no way protect law-abiding individuals’ so-called rights to recreational gun use.  They merely allow us to further prolong distinguishing those who safely and responsibly utilize firearms from those who, say, shoot children.

School shootings, while tragic, only represent a small portion of the gun deaths in the United States.  There is no immediate threat posed by guns to every school in the country.  But there will be a threat if we put guns into those schools.

The main problem with armed guards is that their job is to respond to threats with deadly violence.  How can someone be absolutely certain that the person they are about to shoot is going to shoot somebody else?  How can a guard respond to a shooting across the school?  Can we guarantee that the 150,000 guards going into schools nationwide are sure to respond quickly enough, not hit an unintended target, and identify the threats in time to stop them?

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that there is a significantly increased risk of death if there is a gun in the household.  Shouldn’t the same ring true for schools?

Bringing armed guards into schools would simply be fighting fire with fire. Instead of this, there needs to be stricter regulation of who can own guns and a vested interest in maintaining responsible gun use in order to effectively reduce the number of people killed by guns.

The Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying group is, according to their website, “committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”  Gun control laws are designed to prevent criminals and mentally ill individuals from procuring firearms and to prevent deaths, accidental or purposeful, resulting from gun use.  Gun control legislation has an incredibly similar goal to that of the NRA.  So why is the NRA so tirelessly combating gun control?

The real problem here is that a huge faction within our country uses the Second Amendment to avoid addressing blatant irresponsibility on the behalf of some gun owners.  They reject the possibility of reasonable restrictions in the name of recreational rights.  And unfortunately, the cost of this decision is the safety of innocent people.

The total number of gun deaths in the United States during 2011 was 32,163 and the total number of gun deaths from 1999 to 2011 was a shocking 456,909, according to gunpolicy.org.  Every day, five children are killed by handguns alone.  These numbers have been on the rise since the late 1990s, yet they still don’t seem to be enough reason to support stricter gun control laws.

In Minnesota, a background check to purchase a gun is only required if buying through a federally licensed dealer.  Guns can easily be purchased through the Internet, at gun shows, from a friend, you name it. They can be purchased by people who are potentially mentally ill, don’t know how to safely use guns, or who intend on using guns for the purpose of inflicting violence.

Because United States doesn’t require any record of acquisition, transfer, or even possession of firearms be held in an official register, it is virtually impossible to track the possession and movement of the approximately 88.8 firearms per 100 people in the US.

The State of Minnesota does require training for potential gun owners.  But this is made moot when guns can easily be purchased, traded, and borrowed from non-licensed dealers with no paper trail.  And, like a license to drive, having one doesn’t mean you’ll follow all of the rules.  But it’s a requirement that cars be insured.  Insuring guns, while costly to gun owners, would force gun owners to be held responsible for their guns and would likely result in the decrease in trade and irresponsibly use of guns.

The NRA is looking no further than the ends of their noses.  They are failing to recognize that simply because some people responsibly use firearms, doesn’t mean that there are not thousands of people out there putting themselves and the people around them at risk because of unsafe gun use.  As the tragedy in Newtown so clearly demonstrates, the wrong people are capable of getting their hands on guns and using them against innocent people.  Do we want such an ignorant group of people dictating the safety of our schools?  Of course not.

We need to create a safe community for future generations by actually reducing gun violence, not just preventing a small portion of it.

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