More readers round out the discussion:
There are about 90,000 elementary schools in the United States. Let’s say you pay one single-shift guard about $60,000 including benefits, taxes and overhead. You’ve just spent $5.4 billion to do what?
It wouldn't ensure any safety either. Unless you're talking about the traditional one-room schoolhouse in the country, it's a fantasy that one armed person could protect schools with multiple buildings that are the norm. My wife is a first grade teacher on a school campus with more than a dozen buildings and many more classrooms. People who advocate for an armed guard at the school act as if the gunman is going to alert them beforehand as to which building and classroom he intends to enter to inflict his carnage.
And who will pay for putting an armed guard in every school in America? Surely not the Republicans, who oppose putting more teachers in every school in America.
Imagine if instead of asking for "trained volunteer" armed guards at all the schools that the NRA asked for trained volunteer workers for the mentally ill and for parents with problem children. Or if they asked for, say, a small tax on guns and ammo to provide for hospitals for the mentally ill. If "guns are not the problem; people are," then why don’t they back up their rhetoric and start helping people?
I watched LaPierre’s press conference in its entirety and did not once perceive a desire for "government agents" in every school. I also did not perceive his call for Congress to pass legislation for school security as that, either. He called instead for an appropriation of funding. He also called for retired military or policemen, or others in the security field to fulfill the role of security. The NRA’s proposal utilizes their assets such as their connections to law enforcement and firearms training, which even most of their critics acknowledge as useful if not excellent. They are crafting a plan with their money, their assets, and their connections, and hope to work in conjunction with local districts. I do not see anything Orwellian about that.
And I see nothing "deranged" about it either. LaPierre didn’t call for the arming of teachers, but rather qualified personnel. If that is "deranged," do you also find deranged the security that already exists in the other districts across the country that employ school resource officers? My wife has one such individual in her school who is a county policeman. He is used in drug busts, fights, bullying, etc. – not just as a bouncer. His presence is appreciated.
What is baffling to me is the complete refusal to recognize that a school is an easy target, and that adjustments have to be made. Gun control, in my view, won’t work. I am a teacher and don’t want to work in a prison (and not too willing to carry a gun at this point, even though I own a few); but, when such violence was directed at other institutions, things changed. I accept LaPierre’s point. For those who scoff at it, I challenge Congress to give up their armed security, ask people to re-envision a President in an open-air motorcade in a regular convertible, ask people to fly without an armed U.S. marshal, ask people if drug dogs should not be used in schools, and on, and on. I’m sure people never thought these things would come, but they did. You remark on your blog several times that part of conservatism is accepting reality. Well, this is it, unfortunately.
(Chart: Slate is keeping track of the country's gun deaths since Sandy Hook)