Excerpt: Guns in the Classroom

Published February 25, 2018

It wasn’t exactly news when the National Rifle Association endorsed Donald Trump, since the NRA always endorses Republicans, but it did create some fresh sound bites in this country’s maddening debate over guns.

At the NRA convention in Louisville, Trump told the throng that Hillary Clinton wanted to “abolish” the Second Amendment. He called for ending gun-free zones nationwide. He said Clinton’s proposed restrictions on gun ownership would put “the most vulnerable Americans in jeopardy.”

In his past life, Trump had been in favor of banning the sale of assault weapons and of lengthening the waiting period for gun purchases. Now that he was the presumptive Republican nominee for president, he no longer supported those affronts to our freedom.

Clinton said she supported the Second Amendment, as do most Democrats. She wanted expanded background checks on gun-show and online gun sales because they were currently lax or nonexistent. She wanted to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons, and she supported safe-storage laws and other measures designed to keep guns away from children.

“Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories are simply his latest attempt to divide the American people and distract from his radical and dangerous ideas,” Clinton said in a statement. “Like his promise to mandate that every school in America allow guns in their classrooms.”

Whoa. I hadn’t heard this. Trump had said he would do away with gun-free zones and had once said that included gun-free zones for schools.

Trump took to Twitter to refute the charge: “Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!”

When asked to clarify his position, Trump said, “I don’t want to have guns in classrooms, although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms. Things that are going on in our schools are unbelievable.” (Trump used the adjective “unbelievable” a lot throughout the campaign to describe things he couldn’t describe more specifically.)

“You look at some of our schools, unbelievable what’s going on. But I’m not advocating guns in classrooms. But remember, in some cases, and a lot of people have made this case, teachers should be able to have guns. Trained teachers should have guns.”

Okay, I’m not going to pick nits on this. I don’t even think allowing teachers in some schools to be armed is such a crazy idea. Is that “guns in classrooms?” I guess it is. I think this is a legitimate issue in which I can see both sides.

Where the NRA—and Republican pandering to the NRA—loses all credibility is in exaggerating the “anti-gun” sentiment of Democrats to whip their membership into a fury, all to sell more guns. When Barack Obama took office, the NRA told its membership he would be “the most anti-gun president in American history,” saying he would ban the sale and ownership of handguns. Gun owners stocked up in response.

Now the NRA was making Clinton out to be even more anti-gun than it had made Obama out to be. According to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre:

If she could, Hillary would ban every gun, destroy every magazine, run an entire national security industry into the ground and put your name on a government registration list. If she gets her hands on the Supreme Court and stacks it with just one more justice, every total gun ban she dreams—every confiscation scheme she craves—will stand up in court and we’ll be kissing our Second Amendment freedom goodbye.

That scares me—and I don’t even own a gun!

In fairness, I could see where the Supreme Court thing could be a valid concern. It was the Supreme Court that had affirmed the right to individual gun ownership in a couple of 5-4 decisions. In the most recent case, the late Antonin Scalia had cast the deciding vote. What if a liberal judge replaced him?

As I said, it was a valid concern, except for a few things. First, Americans have always been able to own guns, even before those decisions. Second, the vast majority of Americans, including Democrats, strongly support the right to own a gun. Third, any Supreme Court nominee must be approved by Congress, and no court-swaying, anti-gun zealot would have a chance of being approved. Even modest gun-control laws failed to pass Congress during Obama’s term.

“If Hillary Clinton were to achieve her dream of capturing the White House in November, she would use her vast power to erase American liberty as we know it,” LaPierre droned on.

Were we really going to have to listen to five more months of this shit? I’d need a gun to shoot myself.