Bob Schwartz

Tag: Sandy Hook School

Arm Postal Workers

United States Postal Service
It seems that the National Rifle Association and an incongruously growing number of fearful politicians are currently lining up behind a proposal to train and arm teachers to fight the threat of gun violence. In the view of some, this makes more sense than requiring universal background checks and limiting assault weapons and oversized ammunition magazines.

The scenario is that when psychopaths like Adam Lanza try to force their way into Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, they will be shocked and awed to find themselves facing a militia of teachers, a special forces unit capable of both taking out terrorists and teaching reading to six-year-olds.

Good plan. But it doesn’t go far enough.

It is time to arm postal workers.

We know, to begin, that postal workers have faced their own sort of psychopathic terror over the years. Not often, and certainly not often enough to have earned the undeserved meme “going postal.” But on the principle that you can never have too many guns in the hands of good guys and gals, it would be a welcome preventative.

On top of that, postal workers walking their delivery routes regularly navigate the mean streets of America, just as our police do. Why not, then, train, arm and deputize these postal workers as sworn peace officers? This has many benefits: the streets will be safer, and the Postal Service will be playing a vital role—a role that should fend off any questions about their budgetary problems, especially with changes in the use of mail.

Part of being a good American is coming up with good ideas to keep our country safe—especially ideas that increase the number of guns and gun owners. Saving the Postal Service is just a bonus. You’re welcome, NRA.

Who Killed the Assault Weapons Ban?

Hoover Tactical Firearms
A ban on assault weapons is dead, at least for this session of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Democratic gun bill moving forward will not include it.

The political math is that 60 votes are needed to pass a bill in this new and not improved super-majority Senate voting, and there weren’t enough Democrats, let alone Republicans, to make passage possible. The political reality is fear. There are Democratic Senators who believe that a vote for anything that looks like a gun ban, however reasonable and popular, would cause them grief or worse back home and in the voting booth.

We had a ban on assault weapons for ten years, signed by Bill Clinton, allowed to expire under George W. Bush in 2004, and never revived. It was far from perfect or comprehensive, but at least it represented recognition that as a modern civilization, there are things we try not to do or allow to be done. This isn’t heaven, but we can make it a little less hell.

An earlier post mentioned that we have not seen, and as a matter of decency (we are civilized people, aren’t we?) will not see, the photos of the dead children at Sandy Hook School in Newtown. Since then, though, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing at which a vivid word image was painted by a first responder. Maybe not a thousand words, but we got the picture.

Harry Reid could tell us, name by name, which Democratic Senators did not want to have a vote on this so they wouldn’t have to be accountable. They wanted to avoid the double-edged sword, cut once politically by supporters and voters who believe that any banned weapon is one too many, then cut again by those who can’t understand why military weapons are needed by the hunter or the psychopath next door. By Adam Lanza’s mother and, in the end, by Adam Lanza.

Maybe we are asking the wrong questions of our politicians. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking whether they believe in a ban on assault weapons, or in the possibility that such a ban might reduce the number of gun deaths by even a little, and might reduce the brutality of an already brutal world.

Maybe we should be asking our politicians whether they believe in ghosts. The kind of ghosts who visit all of us, in the moments before sleep, in sleep itself. Ghosts of things done or not done. For Senators, ghosts of bills passed, unpassed, and too many times, never voted on at all. Ghosts that aren’t abstract, but that take stark, all too real form. Ghosts that look like mangled, barely recognizable angels, just wanting somebody to speak—and vote—for them.

If We Could See the Children of Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook School
Early in the Iraq War, President Bush tried to block taking pictures of the arrival of the coffins of fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. The proposal was couched as a gesture of respect to the families, but the real point was to shield citizens from the ultimate cost of war.

There are different opinions on the impact of viewing carnage, fictional and real. Does constant exposure immunize us from taking violence seriously? Would we pursue wars so readily, or at least try to better distinguish the necessary from the chosen, if we were bombarded by those images? If we saw footage of the early days of the camps in real time, would we have allowed the Holocaust to proceed?

The images of the children killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown are blocked from us. This choice is almost beyond argument. We have heard the reaction of those who did witness the aftermath, and even those who have participated in war said that scene was worse. We are protecting the dignity of those lives unlived and respecting the immeasurable grief of the families. Our imaginations are already enough to rend our hearts.

And so instead we have pictures of those children as they are remembered, beautiful angels, joy and potential, and we have the testimony and imploring of their parents. But somehow, this doesn’t seem to be quite enough to stop abstract arguments about the essential value of the Second Amendment, how it must continue unconditioned even by sensible restrictions that meet moral, practical and constitutional muster. First they come for my AR-15, this line goes, and next the deer and the police will be hunting me.

There is a way to end this argument, though for good reasons we will not do it. If we ever get to see the killing field at Sandy Hook, there will be little more talk of a free trade in assault weapons and big ammunition clips. There may be talk, but it will be silenced by a new and more powerful outrage. The NRA might try to keep repeating a mantra that is already falling on more deaf ears, and some of their political operatives will follow. But the vast majority of Americans will move from just saying the right thing to a pollster to demanding that the right thing be done. Now.

If we could, as we won’t, see the children.