White House may back armed guards in schools after all

Interesting, if only because of the near-unanimous derision that resulted when the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre proposed the idea a week after the Newtown shooting.  Critics hooted at LaPierre’s detachment from reality before they realized that Bill Clinton had demanded and received the same funding — through the COPS program.  We’ll get back to Clinton in a moment, but first let’s take a look at Barbara Boxer’s sudden adoption of the NRA proposal:

The Obama administration is considering funding many more police officers in public schools to secure campuses, a leading Democratic senator said, part of a broad gun violence agenda that is likely to include a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and universal background checks.

The school safety initiative, one of several under consideration, would make federal dollars available to schools that want to hire police officers and install surveillance equipment, although it is not nearly as far-ranging as the National Rifle Association’s proposal for armed guards in every U.S. school.

The idea is gaining currency among some Democratic lawmakers, who see it as a potential area of common ground with Republicans who otherwise oppose stricter restrictions on firearms. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat from California, said she presented the plan to Vice President Biden and that he was “very, very interested” and may include it in the policy recommendations he makes to President Obama.

“If a school district wants to have a community policing presence, I think it’s very important they have it,” Boxer said in an interview Thursday. “If they want uniformed officers, they can do it. If they want plainclothed officers, they can do it.”

The key here is if they want it.  I’d oppose this as a mandate, and in theory, I’d oppose federal funding for it at all.  Schools fall under local and state jurisdiction for law enforcement, not the federal government.  If schools want armed guards, then their communities should find the resources to pay for it, not everyone else’s communities.  Given the rarity of these events, armed guards will likely never be needed anyway, but that’s a peace-of-mind decision for the cities and localities to decide.

Butler County in Pennsylvania has managed to make this decision on their own, for instance:

Butler County had cut 75 teaching and administrative positions in the past five years because of a shrinking budget, but now the district of 7,500 students couldn’t hire armed guards fast enough. It had added a new insurance policy and $230,000 to the annual security budget in order to arm and employ at least 22 former state troopers — enough to station at least one guard at each school and every after-school event. In a town where hunting guns hang on the wall of the prosecutor’s office and the rifle team has won championships, the decision to arm guards had elicited a single protest. One family boycotted school for a day before returning the next.

The district’s hiring requirements for guards were at once simple and absolute: only retired state troopers with 20 years of experience who owned a gun and could pass a 60-round shooting test.

Cichra, 46, paced in the snow to keep warm and watched the first few troopers begin the test. He had been retired for exactly seven months on the day of the shooting in Newtown and that had felt like long enough. He couldn’t stand watching TV. Home improvement bored him. He had spent four years in the Army and 21 more on patrol — a career built on the hard reality of“good guys versus bad,” he said, and Newtown offered him another mission. He had three kids, ages 5, 14 and 17, attending schools near Butler.

“We might not like it, but the modern reality is our kids are vulnerable, and they need our help,” he said. “Nobody’s doing this job for money.”

As I said, I’d rather that cities and localities follow Butler County’s example.  However, if we must have “action” by the federal government on this issue, this is probably the most benign and the most on-point we’ll see.

Let’s go back to Bill Clinton, who has joined the Left’s push for gun-grabbing legislation … and their approach to honest debate.  After making hysterical and fact-free arguments about gun violence in America approaching epidemic levels, Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post gave him an epidemic of Pinocchios:

“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”

— Former President Bill Clinton, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013

Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, assembled a data set going back 100 years for a 2007 book titled, “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.” He used the FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports, which date from 1976, and then supplemented the FBI reports with news reports (principally The New York Times) dating from 1900. …

Duwe defines a mass public shooting as an incident in which four or more victims are killed publicly with guns within 24 hours — in the workplace, schools, restaurants and other public places — excluding shootings in connection with crimes such as robbery, drugs or gangs. (Note that this would exclude a number of “mass murders” that sometimes gets lumped into the data, such as the Beltway sniper who killed 10 people over a three-week period in 2002.)

Since 2005, when the assault ban expired, there have been 32 such mass public shootings, including seven in 2012, Duwe said. So that’s just over 20 percent of all mass public shootings, which is much less than Clinton’s 50 percent.

Actually, the worst decade for mass shootings in the last 100 years was the Clinton era with 42, although the 2010s are on a pace to tie.  Second worst was the 1980s with 32.  Last decade, even with the expiration of the “assault weapons” ban, had 28 such incidents.  Bear in mind that these are absolute numbers too, which don’t take into account increased population in the US.