Like many people, I keep thinking about the massacre of the students at Sandy Hook last December. I'm not saying it occupies every waking moment of my life, but it would be accurate to say that not a day has gone by since the event that I have not pondered some aspect of it.
Of course, there are currently many prompts for these musings -- it's hard to run on the radio, pick up a newspaper, or go online without seeing or hearing something about the massacre. Probably the most wretched thing I've encountered of late are the conspiracy theorists who are claiming that the whole thing was contrived by anti-gun activists to allow them to successfully pursue their agenda of taking our guns away.
Yeah, that sounds sane.
But what I wanted to talk about was something specific, something in part inspired by the controversial suggestion by the NRA that the solution to events like the massacre at Sandy Hook is not to have better controls on who is able to buy what kinds of guns, but to have at least one armed guard in every school in the country, using their somewhat tenuous logic that "what stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". Under certain circumstances, I guess that's true -- IF, for example, the "good guy" is right there on the spot, not taking a cigarette or bathroom break, and the "good guy" is a great shot and always hits his target instead of what's AROUND his target, and if the "good guy" isn't the first target of the "bad guy", who can then add the "good guy"'s gun to his own arsenal… or if, as in the case of the Columbine school shootings, there is more than one "bad guy". And so on.
There are all kinds of potential problems with this idea, not the least is that it is the classic "slippery slope" conundrum -- where would you stop? Schools like Sandy Hook are not the only potential targets for scum with guns -- what about libraries, town halls, theaters, and so on? And what about colleges, like my alma mater UMass over in Amherst? There have to be several dozen buildings on that campus, each one a potential killing zone for a demented shooter. Do we put an armed guard in each and every one of those buildings as well? Some of those buildings are huge -- do we need more than one guard for those? How many? And who pays for all of this?
And ultimately, is this the kind of world we want to live in?
However, I see a small nugget of possibility in the idea put forth by the NRA, but it doesn't involve installing guards armed with guns at every school. And in part, this idea was also inspired by my trying to imagine what it must have been like for the adults in the Sandy Hook school who tried to deal with the shooter. I believe the principal -- who had no weapon or body armor herself -- tried to get the gun away from him, and was shot dead. That kind of courage is hard to comprehend, but what is fairly easy to imagine are some thoughts which might have gone through her mind, such as "If I only had something with which I could stop this lunatic!" -- other than her vulnerable, unshielded body, which succumbed to his bullets.
So that got me thinking. What if, instead of adding MORE guns and guards to all the schools in the country, we instead supplied them with what is widely considered to be the easiest to use non-lethal defensive weapon available today -- the Taser*. Each classroom and office could have a Taser, mounted in a secure locked box which would be easily accessible by a person with the proper key (the teachers and administrators). Each teacher would receive training in the use of the device.
I'm not saying it's a perfect solution, and there are probably problematic angles I'm not considering, but it has significant appeal in this sense -- it would give those in the situation another option, something other than running, hiding, or confronting, unarmed, bare-handed, a killer with a gun and the proven willingness and intent to use it. -- PL
*Yes, I know that there have been some fatalities associated with Taser use, but from what I have been able to ascertain, those instances represent a very small percentage of total uses.