Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), in a statement released in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, had sharp words for President Obama as well as National Rifle Association Executive Director Wayne LaPierre. In choosing to rebut LaPierre’s recommendations, Paul took another step forward in his decades-long struggle for the high ground of the intellectual right, and for the Republican Party itself. Coming on the eve of Rep. Paul’s retirement from the House, this jab at the NRA suggests that the Constitutionalist movement he championed may not be about to retire with him.
Of the Obama Administration’s plan to reinstate the assault rifle ban, Paul wrote dismissively that “Predictably, the political left responded to the tragedy with emotional calls for increased gun control. This is understandable, but misguided.”
The Senator most associated with the effort to reinstate the ban is the same Senator, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who sponsored the last ban. That assault rifle ban was allowed to expire in 1994 after having demonstrated no effect.
Responding to the Obama Administration’s direction, but also responding to increased public pressure in the aftermath of the tragedy that claimed 27 lives, La Pierre had offered that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre suggested that public schools might be best to provide schools armed guards.
We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.
We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.
Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!
LaPierre’s comments had led to wide criticism before Paul spoke on the matter, most of that criticism informed by the observation that while Sandy Hook Elementary did not have armed guards, earlier mass murder targets Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood all most certainly did. It is further the case that, despite LaPierre’s citing a recent spike in violent crime, the overall tendency of the past two decades has been toward less danger of violent crime, and very much less such crime in schools in particular.
Concerning LaPierre’s views, Paul offered that
“School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.”
Paul cited the public’s dissatisfaction with the TSA presence in airports as a precedent for the world of surveillance and checkpoints and surveillance LaPierre’s recommendations might be leading toward. In doing so, Paul became the first Republican in the House to speak out against those recommendations, coming as they do from one of the GOP’s most powerful constituencies.
LaPierre had not, in fact, called for a governmental agency akin to the TSA, or even simply the local police, in calling for armed guards in the schools. Arguably, current faculty or staff exercising a right to carry could constitute such a guard.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has advocated just such a possibility, suggesting further that such a decision could be made on a school district by school district basis.
by Todd Jackson