Former congressman Asa Hutchinson appeared at the National Press Club on April 2 to present a plan, “National School Shield,” that came out of a NRA funded task force, but was supposedly independent of the NRA. The only significant distance from the NRA’s previously announced proposals was to back off plans to protect schools with armed vigilantes. Otherwise, the pro gun agenda called for training and arming paid guards and school staff, at least one in every school. Assault weapons, high capacity magazine clips, background checks, and even making gun trafficking a federal crime are all assumed to be off the table by Hutchinson and the NRA.
More appalling than the plan, however, was reporting on the boot stomping atmosphere surrounding the press conference. At least 20 NRA security men, some with visible guns in holsters, patrolled the room, ordering photographers not to take pictures, and reporters to get out into the lobby. They inspected reporters’ brief cases. Clearly the gun friendly medium was the message.
When asked about common ground with gun control advocates, Hutchinson said his plan was it. If so, columnist Dana Milbank said, “American school children may grow accustomed to the sort of scene Hutchinson caused Tuesday protected by more armed guards than a Third World dictator (WP op-ed, 4/2).”
We must think about what the school environment Hutchinson wants means concretely. What kind of a “scene” are our children going to get accustomed to? Picture kids talking about the latest variety of assault weapon as “cool”. Look to social pressure on kids to join gun clubs. Assume kids will be afraid to take unpopular positions. Assume a world where critical thinking is dangerous.
A gun culture, which we already have, implies you can only get your way if you back it up with lethal power, and must have the lethal power to protect yourselves. You are a target of disrespect otherwise. People, in this worldview, who say they admire the tradition of non violent protest must be weaklings.
We must fight back against pro gun plans, not only to stop our horrific gun homicide rates, but in order to live in a society based on ethical principles and in a democracy.