Is the NRA push for guns in schools crazy? It depends on where you live.
Reaction to the NRA’s controversial proposal to have armed guards in all schools illustrates the regional divide over guns – how and even whether to control the nation’s private arsenal.
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"Even if we hypothesize that [Michael Bloomberg's] guards only have magazines with 10 or less rounds, he's got six of those guys, which means his guys can shoot 60 times without reloading," says Dave Kopel, research director at the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute in Denver, Colo. "So if one guy wants to have a magazine that he thinks is important for protecting his family, let's say 12 rounds, Michael Bloomberg says you should be a criminal for doing that."Skip to next paragraph
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Perhaps more significant to the debate are trends that show Americans accepting guns, despite their faults, at a broader societal level. While the Pew Research Center recorded more support after Sandy Hook for gun restrictions, support for gun rights today, Pew found, still exceeds levels recorded at President Obama's election.
"The gun culture is all around you," writes novelist Larry Correia, a former firearms instructor, in a widely-read blog post, citing rising numbers of licensed concealed weapons carriers. "Now everybody outside of elite urban liberal city centers knows somebody that carries a gun. The gun culture is simply regular America, and is made up of people who think their lives and their families' lives are more important than the life of anyone who tries to victimize them."
To be sure, the federal focus likely will be on a renewed assault weapons ban and bans on larger magazine clips, of the kind used by the Newtown shooter. A 10-year assault weapons ban ended in 2004, after which a federally-funded taskforce found the ban had relatively little impact on gun crimes or violence. Meanwhile, the number of Americans carrying concealed weapons has skyrocketed in recent years, to more than 8 million in the wake of major court decisions affirming Americans' individual right to bear arms.
About 32,000 people a year die of gunshot wounds in the US, with two-thirds of those being suicides. At the same time, studies point to as many as 108,000 instances a year where guns are used defensively to thwart violence, often with no shots fired.
Amid that debate, however, few organizations carry the emotional weight of the NRA, which is widely seen by critics as an apologist – even a catalyst – for America's legacy of gun violence.
Though its unapologetic response to the Sandy Hook School massacre drew vilification from the left, LaPierre’s statement Friday – he took no questions from the media – revealed the NRA’s core operating principle: No retreat or concessions on gun rights.
Yet its idea to engage retired law enforcement in a kind of national school "shield" corps excited some Americans, including St. Leo University criminologist Edward Leddy, a former police officer.
"I was ready to volunteer," he said.
But beyond the partisanship and any divide between red and blue states or between rural and urban America, Mr. Leddy says he believes most American parents are taking an honest, unflinching look at how to make their local schools safer, whether it means creating "bunker" style security cordons, banning certain types of weapons, or having grandfatherly armed volunteers greeting children in school lobbies.
"It seems people are starting to look at this issue and thinking about it rather than just reacting emotionally, and I think the end result is that we'll come up with something that is probably going to improve things in reality rather than earn politicians … votes by recommending things which have failed already," he says.
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