Less than five days after an elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 first graders and six adults dead — along with the mother of the gunman — a couple of Republican Tennessee legislators are proposing a solution: Our teachers need guns.
First, there's Boner Award winner state Sen. Stacey Campfield. Over at his blog, he says he'll push legislation to "allow licensed and checked faculty and staff, at schools, to be able to have a gun on campus." And since the "i" key is not even close to the "a" key, yes — we assume the senator does not know how to spell "predator."
Campfield's post from yesterday, titled "Is is time?":
I wonder if after the massacre in Conneticut, a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, that legislators will be willing to look at changing some of the same restrictions we have here in Tennessee. I personally think we need to make sure a similar type preditor is not allowed to run wild in our schools.
Would this threat in Tennessee open some eyes that it could happen here?
I will be bringing back legislaton to allow licensed and checked faculty and staff, at schools, to be able have a gun on campus if a safety officer is not present on campus.
And then there's state Sen. Frank Niceley, who has told various outlets that he'll be pushing a similar proposal.
From Talking Points Memo:
State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) told TPM on Tuesday he believes it’s time for that to change. He plans to introduce legislation in the next session, which begins Jan. 8, that will require all schools to have an armed staff member of some kind. The current language of the bill — which is in its early form — would allow for either a so-called “resource officer” (essentially an armed police officer, the kind which most Tennessee high schools have already) or an armed member of the faculty or staff in every school in the state. The choice would allow schools that can’t afford a resource officer to fulfill the requirement without having to pay for anything beyond the cost of the training and, presumably, the weapon. But Niceley said schools should use the wiggle room to train and keep on hand armed staff not in uniform.
That’s the best way to protect students, he said.
“Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun],” Niceley said by phone. “These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have.”
And this, in which a Niceley offers up a pristine gem of glib commentary on the matter, from Tom Humphrey:
Asked about restrictions on assault weapons or the amount of ammunition that could be possessed by an individual, he indicated there would be little enthusiasm for such things in Tennessee.
"I think we're a long way in this country from totally taking away bullets," he said. "I can't imagine that being on a serious agenda of any legislature.
Niceley said a ban on assault weapons would be pointless since those prone to violence would simply use other weapons.
"If we outlaw spoons could we stop this obesity problem?" he asked.
Of course this is all painfully predictable in a state that has been the tip of the spear when it comes to making it easier to get a gun and carry it wherever you like. From 2009-2012, Tennessee has been among the nation's leaders when it comes to making guns easier to own, easier to carry and harder to track. We are one of just eight states that allows them in bars.
Moreover, the NRA is as powerful here as anywhere. Just ask Debra Maggart, whose ouster was due in large part to the gun lobby's displeasure, or U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who received nearly $10,000 from the NRA during his 2008 campaign and has gone about running interference for them in the wake of yet another mass shooting.
Yesterday, Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters that he plans to hold a conference on school safety next month, and that the topic of arming teachers could be on the table.
If you're perplexed by the idea that the solution to recurring gun violence in America is to insert more guns in more places — and to replace teacher's apples with Glocks — then we understand. But try to see it from the other side.
After all, they're just guns. What could go wrong?