Umm . . . we didn’t mean THAT kind of gun control
You gotta love the NRA. Anyone who was expecting Vice President Wayne LaPierre to break the NRA’s week-long silence after the Newtown massacre with an olive branch and some sensible proposals regarding better background checks, say, or restrictions on high-capacity ammo clips didn’t know his man. The idea of putting an armed guard in every elementary school in the country strikes me as utter lunacy (sadly, lunacy already embraced by 20 percent of elementary schools and one third of all public schools generally, reports the New York Times). But no one is more responsible for laying the predicate for LaPierre’s proposal than the gun control Left. The Left (including the media: see, especially, NPR) has been hawking the notion that the Newtown school shootings represent a widespread threat in order to advance its own agenda. It can not now protest that LaPierre’s idea is a ludicrous overreaction to an extraordinarily rare, horrific event with no precedent. (And in fact some gun control advocates have decided that there is more advantage to be had in backing the schools-need-armed-guards idea than in demolishing it.) So now both sides are staring at each other across a common false conceit, even as more school districts have already begun arming up and police departments have announced plans to patrol schools in another eruption of probability-free thinking. For the moment, there may in fact be an elevated risk of copy cat attacks from the unhinged. But that increased risk is over a baseline that is extremely low to begin with. Perhaps there is no cost to such reflexive overreaction. But in fact there always is a cost, since public resources are finite. Money spent putting an armed guard in every school could be better spent targetted by risk. There are many inner city neighborhoods and schools that could do with more police presence, for example, because their residents face a non-negligble chance of getting shot: The per capita shooting rate in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for instance , is a whopping 81 times higher than in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood. Spreading police intervention equally across all neighborhoods in New York, regardless of their crime rate, would be a waste of resources–one that the New York Police Department’s Compstat system thankfully prevents. In the present instance, however, we seemed doomed to an irrational, if inevitable, response.