At 3:17 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, I received an email from KPBS news wanting to chat with me about my lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s 1967 ban on openly carrying a loaded firearm in public. This was the day of the Sandy Hill Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn.
After exchanging a few emails and two phone calls later, I was asked to appear on a live news segment the following Monday afternoon not to discuss my lawsuit but to talk about the Newtown massacre. Also on the show was to be an opponent of the Second Amendment.
I declined and suggested they instead ask UCLA law professor Adam Winkler to be a guest on the show. Professor Winkler is a liberal, he speaks their language. I am not a liberal and gave as my reason for declining to appear the plain and simple fact that no law will ever prevent an evil or crazy person from doing an evil thing.
That plain and simple fact is beyond the ability of liberals to understand. We have had laws against committing murder as old as history. For decades we have had state and federal laws prohibiting the unauthorized possession of firearms on schools and even within 1,000 feet of a school ground. These laws prevent good, sane, law-abiding people from carrying guns to protect themselves and their children. How many more mass shootings have to take place before people learn that criminals, by definition, break laws and crazy people simply don’t understand they are doing evil?
Laws did not prevent the massacre in Newton. Laws did not prevent the massacre at Columbine High. Laws did not prevent the massacre at Virginia Tech. New laws will not prevent the next mass shooting, neither would they have prevented the massacre in Newtown or anywhere else had they been in effect.
A couple of decades ago, an immoral President Bill Clinton advocated putting a police officer in every school. He did this for two reasons: It pandered to the powerful police public employee unions that are a core constituency of the Democrat Party, and more importantly, it polled well with the public. Those who remember the Clinton presidency remember that his public policies swayed with the wind.
The National Rifle Association made the same proposal and was savaged by the press. The NRA made the proposal because “more police” always polls well with the public. It also appeals to a couple of the NRA’s core constituencies; rank-and-file police officers as well as owners of “black rifles.” Rifles that the liberal press and opponents of the Second Amendment intentionally mislabel as “assault rifles.”
According to Gallup, the NRA chose wisely in its proposal. Only 12 percent of people polled said that increasing police presence in schools would not be effective in preventing mass shootings like the one that occurred in Connecticut; 34 percent said that having at least one school official at every school carry a gun for the school’s protection would not be effective. The public, unlike the liberal press, believe that more guns in the right hands at schools is the solution. The press will continue to rant and rave for more gun control but eventually, the Sandy Hill massacre will become yesterday’s news and the press will move on to other stories — until the next shooting occurs, that is.
Assault rifles are machine guns, and there aren’t very many machine guns in the hands of private collectors in the United States. In Switzerland, however, every able-bodied Swiss male upon reaching age 19 must keep a fully automatic assault rifle at his home. He must regularly take it to the shooting range, and he is required to keep what the liberal press would call a “stockpile” of ammunition, clips and military supplies.
Switzerland has had one mass shooting, not at a school but inside one of its state legislatures back in 2001; 14 people were killed. In all of Switzerland, there were only 69 homicides committed last year — homicides committed not just with firearms but with all forms of weapons including knives, hands and feet.
So why does Switzerland, a nation where the people who are more heavily armed than in the United States, have citizens far less likely to commit murder, and why are mass shootings virtually unknown there?
There are many reasons why Switzerland is so peaceful despite the number of firearms in private ownership. One of which is that every Swiss male upon reaching age 19 is subjected to physical and mental tests to determine if he is physically and more importantly, mentally stable for membership in the armed Militia. Those who are mentally and physically sound are issued a fully automatic assault rifle and become part of the armed Swiss Militia in which they engage in periodic training. Those who are of unsound mind or body are not given a machine gun but instead are placed in civilian service roles if possible.
Mental illness most often manifests itself in youth, and the Swiss have very effectively, although not intentionally, created an effective mental health screening system. Membership in the Swiss Militia is compulsory up to age 34. By that age, the sudden onset of mental illness is extremely rare, and people who develop a mental illness during their mandatory service in the Militia are quickly identified.
Unfortunately, that system would not work in the United States. The Swiss are a very conservative and pragmatic people, and that is reflected in their elected officials and other public servants. In the United States, our elected officials and public servants are not only the last people who should be deciding who can and who cannot own a gun, they are people whom we would all be better off if they were prohibited from possessing weapons of any kind.
Which brings us to the proposal of arming school teachers and principals. Sandy Hill Elementary is a rural school. Perhaps some of the school teachers or the principal, properly trained and screened, should have had guns. It is a fact that moral, properly trained people with guns in schools very well might have made a difference, but most public school teachers in this country are not qualified to teach and are frankly so far out of touch with reality that arming them would only make things worse.
It is true that the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. Most school teachers are not good people, and those who are good people are not necessarily mentally suited to engage in combat with a madman. Some are, and they should be armed and trained — now!
Likewise with putting a police officer in every school. There was a police officer present at Columbine High. When the shooting started, he waited for backup police officers to arrive after firing 10 shots (to no avail). By the time the SWAT team entered, the massacre at Columbine High had been going on for two hours. The two shooters committed suicide after running out of ammunition and bombs. This was years before the federal assault weapons ban expired, a law that the loony left liberals like California Sen. Dianne Feinstein are seeking to re-enact today as their “solution.”
Similarly was the McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, where a mentally ill armed security guard, licensed by the State of California, shot and killed 21 people in 1984. The massacre lasted for 77 minutes before the shooter was killed by a SWAT sniper. As at Columbine High, police were present outside of the McDonald’s, but they waited for the police SWAT team to take charge.
Police departments are para-military organizations. When confronted with a mass shooting, police officers invariably wait until they have overwhelming force before acting. It is the rare police officer who acts on his own initiative in these situations; they are trained not to. Nor do we want to inculcate a police state mentality in young children where the police roam the hallways.
It is foolish to expect a solution from the government. Quoting President Ronald Reagan, “Government is not the solution ... government is the problem.”
The solution is in your hands. An obvious partial solution is to stop making your children an easy target. Home-school them if you can and stop voting for politicians who are idiots. That includes your local school board, city councilmen as well as county, state and federal officials.
An Orange County school administrator, who shall remain unnamed, announced to the media that he would not allow any guns in his schools — not police, security guards, teachers, anyone. He may have well announced to every copycat loser in the country to please come to his schools and do evil. People like this would not be in a position of power if voters hadn’t put them there.
California law permits public and private schools to issue permits to carry a firearm on school property and within 1,000 feet of a school without a state issued permit. If your school cannot find enough parents, teachers, administrators or volunteers from the community who are willing and able to defend your children at school, then remove your children from the school. Better yet, move. This will require a change in the way you have been doing things, but it should be obvious by now that going about doing things as usual isn’t working.
— Charles Nichols is president of California Right to Carry.