Everything but gun control that conservatives have floated in response to school shootings

Parent militias, armed teachers and airport-like security at schools have all been floated by Republican lawmakers in the last week

Johanna Chisholm
Monday 30 May 2022 06:43 BST
Protesters yell 'Shame' outside NRA annual meeting

As parents, community members and school staff grieve in the wake of yet another school shooting in America, those not immediately involved in the tragedy that left 19 children and two teachers dead at an elementary school in Uvalde found themselves turning to their elected officials and rallying around the seemingly simple request: do something.

US President Joe Biden, who only a week before the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School travelled to Buffalo, the site of another deadly mass shooting, offered a sharp rebuke of his country’s gun control policies. Delivering a damning speech, the president called on Congress to address the easy availability of military-style rifles, such as the ones used by both gunmen in the shootings in Texas and New York.

Democratic lawmakers similarly made stirring pleas on the Senate floor, pleading for action on gun control. “What are we doing?” begged Senator Chris Murphy, whose home state, Connecticut, was the site of the Sandy Hook massacre, one of the deadliest school shootings in history. “Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”

Though the Democratic senator argued, like others from his party this week, that this issue of school shootings is a solvable one, lawmakers from across the aisle did not view it as such and instead offered up suggestions on everything but gun reform.

From airport security checks to a volunteer militia of armed parents and guardians, here’s what Republicans offered up this week in response to protecting schoolchildren from having to bear witness to another brutal school shooting – of which there have been 27 in this year so far – from happening again.

The one-door policy

California Republican and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took up the issue of public schools’ architectural failings, namely, the number of doors and how that should instead be reduced to a singular rather than a plural.

“There are billions of dollars sitting out there after Covid, for schools. We should redirect that money to allow the schools to use that to have one central point of entrance to protect these kids from a lot of different items,” the Republican lawmaker said during an interview with Fox Business Tonight.

Lining up behind that one-door proposal was former US president Donald Trump, a politician who famously promoted the gun advocates’ solution of arming teachers following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

Speaking during the National Rifle Association convention in Houston after the shooting in Uvalde on Friday, Mr Trump emphasised the need for overhauling the security of schools across America, and as part of that overhaul he suggested that these public institutions should have a “single” point of entry.

Reducing the number of entryways into a school is not only likely not feasible, no matter how much Covid funding the congressman would like to tap into, but it also completely ignores fire regulations that such a proposition would blatantly be in violation of.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration specifically lays out that buildings are required to have at least two exit routes, or more if “the size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow” people to evacuate safely from, i.e. a public school.

Make it like the airport

Senator John Cornyn took the point of overhauling security one step further by suggesting that the lobbies of public schools more closely resemble that of what you see when you’re entering through TSA security and catching a flight across the Atlantic.

While quote-tweeting an article from The Texas Tribune, which cited the recently discussed solution of making a one-door policy inside schools, the Texas senator responded by saying: “Do like airports?”

Creating a TSA-style security screening system was also optioned by freshman Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who seemed to advocate for everything this week – arming teachers, increased security, greater police presence on campuses – except for gun reform.

Speaking on Fox News’ Sean Hannity special on Thursday night, the far-right lawmaker from Colorado made a false equivalence comparison between 9/11 and America’s seemingly unique problem with mass school shootings.

“When 9/11 happened, we didn’t ban planes,” Ms Boebert said. “We secured the cockpit.

Arming the school staff

An old faithful argument among gun advocates is the proposition that, alongside imbuing the next generation of America with the smarts and wisdom to be well-rounded adults, while also using good portions of their middle wage take-home pay on their students’ school supplies, teachers should also be practised in protecting their classrooms with firearms of their own.

Politicians from Texas this week joined the chorus of supporting this Trump-era proposal, with Attorney General Ken Paxton telling Newsmax during an interview just hours after the shooting in his home state that teachers and other administrators should go through training and be armed while Senator Ted Cruz told MSNBC the only way to keep children safe was to increase armed law enforcement inside their hallways.

“We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Mr Cruz told the outlet.

Lawmakers from outside the southern state told The Independent in interviews earlier this week that they’d similarly support the armament of teachers, but conceded that the hypothetical educator would have to have a background in law enforcement, such as Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

A Florida sheriff who was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis recently to serve on the state’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, not only championed arming teachers but also thought the entire faculty – custodians, librarians, maintenance staff – should be decked out with a firearm.

“My first round draft pick for protecting those schools are the faculty, those that are moving around the campus in all different capacities,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey in an interview with Newsmax at the NRA convention in Houston.

Armed parent militias

Putting a spin on the old tried-and-true conservative classic of arming teachers, was Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s suggestion of instead creating a volunteer militia of parents and guardians.

Though not the kind of PTA that most parents would be keen to sign up for, the far-right lawmaker from Georgia made her case during a video address online, stating: “Parents need to be able to determine at their schools how they want to secure the school. They need to decide if they want to have a volunteer group of parents that take turn arming and protecting doors.”

The freshman congresswoman also noted during this address that, while creating these volunteer shifts of parent patrols, the American people should focus on repealing the Gun Free School Zones act.

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