Schwab: Is turning schools into fortresses our only option?

It’s getting harder to see how laws limiting firearms could ever get past NRA-influenced Republicans.

By Sid Schwab

Between $11 million for Donald “I’ll self-finance my campaign” Trump and another $20 million against Hillary Clinton, the NRA spent more than $30 million on the last presidential campaign. Marco “Don’t jump to conclusions” Rubio has accepted more than $3 million from the NRA in his career. So has Joni “Thoughts and prayers” Ernst, which is only half of what John “the maverick” McCain has received. And Paul “No knee-jerk” Ryan has taken in more than any other in the House of Representatives. If post-hoc doesn’t always equal propter hoc, it must have an effect. Otherwise, why would Mr. LaPierre keep doling out cash like pig slop in a sty?

We know, because we’re told so every time, it’s too soon to talk about Florida; so how about the other school shootings that have occurred, so far, in 2018. For numbers of mass shootings in America, Trump’s first year in office wins the gold. I’m not suggesting that it’s all on him: American gun violence has been epidemic for decades. But he gets zero credit for improving things, because he hasn’t, and some for making them worse. Calling for violence at his rallies (Trumpists consider that a lie, despite the video evidence.) Ending Obama-era controls on the mentally ill getting guns. Cutting funding for gun-purchase background checks. Cuts in Medicaid, which happens to provide the bulk of mental health services for the poor. Removing the mandate for insurance coverage of mental health.

After Florida, Trump blamed locals who knew about the shooter’s mental health issues but didn’t report him. Given Trump’s aforementioned actions, what would have happened had they done so? (We know the answer, because some people had. Thankfully, it was different here.) He, a white-supremacist MAGA guy, purchased his AR-15 legally. Florida has virtually no gun control laws.

At this point in America, the demon is out of the bottle. If sales of all guns were banned tomorrow, there are already enough of them out there for every man, woman, and child. Notwithstanding even the most fevered delusions of Infowars-loving Trumpists, there’s no way an effort could or would be mounted, much less be successful, to “come for them.” We are what we’ve become. Maybe there’s still a way to deal with it; if so, it won’t come from Republicans.

After the Las Vegas massacre, Republican House members rose to the occasion by passing a bill forcing states that don’t allow concealed carry to allow people from concealed-carry state to roam free, unconstrained by their state laws. That’s some righteous federalism, right there.

But really? No laws will help? None? It’s a favorite talking-point of NRAiders that Chicago, with its gun violence despite its strict gun laws, proves they don’t work. Facts, those troublesome things, say otherwise; guns flow into Chicago from neighboring cities and states which have no such laws. The result of Australian gun laws after its lonely mass shooting has become a liberal shibboleth; it’s impressive, and will never happen here. Not unless Republicans are thrown out of office and a constitutional amendment were to pass Congress, get signed by a president, and validated by thirty-eight states. We’ll be drowned by rising seas, choked by unbreathable air, or poisoned to death by undrinkable water long before that happens.

If there’s a solution, I don’t see it. Democrats say we have to do something, Republicans say we don’t. We all say it’s time to regain respect for each other, but no one really knows how. I do know, though, that having a role model in the White House doesn’t help. One who suborns violence at his rallies, calls the press an “enemy of the people.” Who says Democrats want open borders, illegal immigrants running wild and raping your women, doesn’t help. One who reads the usual hollow, tired words from a teleprompter, saying he’s with us. Reading it badly, unenthusiastically. One who admires Alex Jones who, as usual, claimed the Florida murders were orchestrated by Democrats. We’re now a country in which people believe that.

So the NRA and its money-takers are right. The only way to protect children in NRAmerica is to turn schools into impenetrable fortresses. Steel buildings with foot-thick doors, no windows, armed guards and barbed wire outside and armed teachers inside. It’d teach our kids the uniqueness of America, too. But, sure as hell, we’ll need more tax cuts to pay for it.

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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