By André Lopes Massa
About a month on from the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, gun control is as hot a topic as ever, with President Obama recently tasking Vice President Joe Biden to head a panel that would be responsible for drafting serious reform to our current gun laws. Of course, Mr. Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association are right in the thick of it, and propose combating the worrying trend of gun violence in the U.S with, wait for it, more guns. You heard that one right; The National Rifle Association, in a press conference held a week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, called on Congress to pass legislation requiring every school to have an armed guard in every school in the U.S, with LaPierre saying, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.
At first glance, the most obvious problem with the NRA’s proposal is funding. The Bureau of Labor recently reported that there are currently 29,740 guards employed at various public schools across the country, bringing in an average wage of about $31,420 and costing state governments a total of $934,430,800. With about 98,817 public schools currently in existence and armed guards making $50,000 a year, the full price tag of Mr. LaPierre’s proposal comes out to the very small and affordable total of $4,940,850,000. With the federal government facing a deficit of about $16 trillion dollars and about 32 states on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, it seems the NRA and Mr. LaPierre will have a slight problem finding the necessary funds for their program, but that’s not even the worst part of it. Hopefully, he and Ben Bernanke are on good terms. When you really look at Mr. LaPierre’s proposal, you’ll find something far more disturbing about it at its core; it’s basically fascism.
Putting aside the vast arrays of problems concerning the NRA’s proposal, let us consider a world where we magically fund this program. Imagine yourself back in the 5th grade, going to your first day of school. You get off the bus, and the first sight you see is an armed guard, gazing at you with the most penetrating of stares, watching your every move. You then proceed to walk your first class, but notice that, in the halls, there are more armed guards, standing motionless with the same, penetrating stare the guard outside had. You walk through the halls feeling like your being watched, but bask in the relief that you’ll be free once you walk into your classroom. To your immediate horror, you find that there is another armed guard in your classroom, watching your every move with that same penetrating stare. You often find it hard to concentrate in class because you feel overwhelmed by the presence of the guard standing right behind you, living in fear that he thinks you’re a bad guy.
This scene is a perfect depiction of the world we can expect to live in if we follow through with the NRA’s proposal and, to say the very least, it’s disturbing. Instead of ensuring that school environments remain the safe, carefree environments that have always fostered fun and learning, the NRA’s proposal would turn this environment into that of a totalitarian police state where you’re every move is watched, where every child, teacher, and parent is seen as a potential threat rather than as an individual. When you really think about it, how is the scene above any different from that of a Jewish man walking the streets of Nazi Germany in 1936, being watched by Hitler’s Gestapo or an Italian man walking into a store with Mussolini’s Black Shirts right behind him, watching his every move.
To put it bluntly, the NRA’s plan is inherently fascist. It seeks to expand the already overarching police state we have here in the U.S into our schools and the lives of our children. Instead of resorting to fascism, wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to make sure criminals don’t have guns in the first place? After all, the same approach has worked well for New York City; murder rates have gone down from 2,262 in 1990 to just 515 in 2011. Perhaps Mr. LaPierre could learn a thing or two from Mayor Bloomberg.