Earlier today Ed wrote about a Washington Post story suggesting the NRA was hypocritical for making restricting guns at VP Mike Pence’s speech at their annual event. The first paragraph of that story actually notes that it was Parkland students who kicked off the criticism. The Post story isn’t specific but it may have been referencing this tweet by Cameron Kasky:
The NRA has evolved into such a hilarious parody of itself. pic.twitter.com/6Pw6NTQAe6
— Cam (@cameron_kasky) April 28, 2018
And here’s a response from one of his gun control pals:
Wait wait wait wait wait wait you’re telling me to make the VP safe there aren’t any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere? Can someone explain this to me? Because it sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids.
— Matt Deitsch (@MattxRed) April 28, 2018
Kasky’s tweet doesn’t actually say much, but we can safely assume what he had in mind here is precisely what Deitsch said and what the Post wrote in its story, i.e. the apparent hypocrisy of a gun-free event at an NRA convention. Ed already explained why this attack on the NRA makes no sense: The decision was made by the Secret Service, not by the NRA. But there’s another level of hypocrisy here that I think is worth pointing out, one that Kasky and the Post seem to have missed.
Look, I get it. NRA has gun free zone sounds like a really good zinger. Here’s the problem. When Pence speaks at this event, it will not be gun-free. Not at all. On the contrary, each of the Secret Service agents guarding the VP will be armed, equipped with radios, and watching like hawks for any sign of a problem. And if someone does try something, those agents will draw down on the individual while ushering the VP quickly to safety, even at the risk of their own lives. They are quite literally, good guys with guns, which I think is a thing the NRA has mentioned once or twice.
So if we’re to take a lesson from this, i.e. one we could apply to the safety of our schools, what would it be? Well, let’s start with what it would not be. Announcing a gun free zone is definitely not sufficient to solve any potential problem involving guns. The Secret Service does not announce ‘no guns allowed’ at VP Pence’s speech and then go to lunch. It does not announce ‘no guns allowed’ and then send one guy to wander around the grounds near the speech. Why not? Because that would be idiotic.
You see, the idea of a gun-free zone only works if you back it up with highly-trained and well-armed guards. That’s what was missing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. There was at least one armed sheriff’s deputy on duty that day but instead of charging in to confront the shooter (as he should have), he waited outside with his gun pointing at nothing. Needless to say, that individual is not up for a job with the Secret Service. Nor would the secret service ever consider him sufficient to protect everyone inside the school.
So here’s the lesson I think we can take away from this moment. If you want to announce that no one can bring a gun into a public school, I’m okay with that so long as you acknowledge that’s completely insufficient to protect anyone. If, on the other hand, you staff the school with well-armed and well-trained guards who are ready to immediately respond with force to a shooting, then you’re getting somewhere. So who’s up for giving our kids secret service protection?