William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE FARCE – AT 9:58 A.M. ET:   We reported yesterday that Vice President Biden will have gun-control recommendations on President Obama's desk by Tuesday.  What a joke.  Biden's group, "studying" the issue, has barely met.  These "ideas" are obviously just warmed-over suggestions from the past.

One of the most critical aspects of the gun-violence issue involves the mentally ill.  How we handle the connection between mental illness and violence requires complex study and testimony.  Clearly, it's being sidetracked so Biden can get some 3x5 cards on the president's desk quickly.

Great way to protect our children, right?

I have a sense that a lot of good work will be done regarding gun violence in the states and communities, not at the federal level.  Consider this, from the Washington Post:

BUTLER, Pa. — Four hundred miles from Sandy Hook Elementary, a superintendent named Mike Strutt left a morning meeting on Dec. 14 and decided to place his schools on “threat alert.” He was concerned about a copycat attack on the day of the Connecticut shootings. But, as he read reports of the massacre, he started to worry more about something else.

For 20 years, he had specialized in school safety, filling three binders with security plans and lockdown drills — all of which felt suddenly inadequate. In the case of an attack, would a “threat alert” do him any good?

He looked out his office window at the snow-covered trees of western Pennsylvania and imagined a gunman approaching one of Butler County’s 14 schools, allowing the attack to unfold in his mind. In came the gunman, past the unarmed guards Strutt had hired after Columbine; past the metal detectors he had installed after Virginia Tech; past the intercom and surveillance system he had updated after Aurora.

Strutt stood from his desk and called the president of the Butler County School Board, Don ­Pringle.

“This could happen here,” Strutt said. “Armed guards are the one thing that give us a fighting chance. Don’t we want that one thing?”

That question has preoccupied schools across the country since 27 people were killed in Newtown, Conn., last month, and the emerging solutions reflect the nation’s views on gun control. In a divided America, guns are either the problem or the solution, with little consensus in between. A dozen states have proposed legislation to put armed guards in schools; five others have drafted plans to officially disallow them.

COMMENT:  The problem is that too many "opinion leaders" in the United States still live in the 1960s.  That was their youth.  They still think that feeling good about themselves is the greatest goal in life.

If a community feels it needs armed guards, it should have them.  Our first responsibility is protecting children, even if it means doing things that make us, Heaven forbid, uncomfortable.  The story doesn't list the five states where some people want to disallow armed guards in school.  If those provisions are passed, and there's a mass shooting of defenseless children, will any of these worthies step forward and accept responsibility?  I doubt it.

I become enraged at people who say that armed guards would "traumatize" children.  Is that a serious argument?  Children see cops with guns every day.  I don't see much trauma. 

Yes, give our kids a fighting chance, if their communities want it.  Armed guards are not, by any means, a full solution.  But placing them in schools is the very first thing we can do, and address the highest priority – protecting children.

January 11, 2012