Dear Wayne LaPierre,
I've been thinking a lot about your recent suggestions that we defend our schools with armed security or "good guys" to protect children. That was not the response I was looking for. However, in San Francisco, where I live, the police department already assigns about 19 armed police officers, known as a School Resource Officers, to high schools and middle schools. There are some amazing SROs here. Like beat cops, they really get to know students and work within the community to keep the school safe. And of course, you can bet that most of them would lay their lives on the line to protect kids.
But SROs cost money, something both police and schools never have enough of. So, most SROs are only at their schools part-time, and if the police department needs them for an emergency, say, to respond to gun violence in the community, they're gone. And when cities face budget cuts, SROs, like counselors and social workers, are among the first to go.
I'm wondering how you propose to pay for these services, which include some of the mental health programs you also say you're for. Are you willing to go to your constituents, particularly those libertarians who think they should pay almost nothing in taxes, and say, "Hey, if we want complete access to any and all kinds of firepower and ammunition, we need to chip in for extra security and mental health services to make sure there are more "good guys" with guns than "bad guys"?
Remember, you are asking for trained security to protect children who pay no taxes and do not vote, attend public schools and are often poor or undocumented. Will your community really go for this?
So good luck ducking the discussion of the value of high-powered weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Still, I will say your plan to ask the government to spend more money for good guys with guns is fascinating. I wonder where it will go?
With a Perspective, I'm Jane Zimmerman.
Jane Zimmerman is a mother of two in San Francisco working on her school counseling credential.