Vail Daily letter: Pacifist solution wrong
January 5, 2013
In response to Henry Bornstein’s long-winded and wrong-headed letter (“Arming up won’t help”), all I can say is that I’m glad he’s not in a position to implement his foolish, pacifist and dangerous philosophies.
We can all agree that there have been far too many mass shootings in this country and the recent tragedy in Connecticut was a heart-breaking, watershed event calling for a reassessment of security in our schools.
Many now demand stricter controls or bans on assault-type weapons and large-capacity clips. I am not an NRA member and am not opposed to some of these measures, but if anyone thinks this alone is going to make our children safer, they are mistaken.
Unfortunately, there is no one simple solution to this problem, but one thing is for sure. The United States is not Britain, Japan or Australia. This country was founded on the right to own guns, and that will never change.
Even if some stricter gun laws are passed, there will always be hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of individuals. If somehow tomorrow, politicians could pass a law outlawing all assault rifles and high capacity clips, there would remain just as much of a threat of gun violence.
It has been amply demonstrated in many recent mass shootings that the previous methods of security in places like schools, movie theaters and shopping malls simply don’t work. A locked door, a piece of glass, a school lockdown or a call to 911 unfortunately does not deter a determined intruder with a gun.
The one thing all of these places have in common is that they are occupied by unarmed people. As a retired big city, law enforcement officer, I can tell you from many years of firsthand experience that guns are a huge deterrent to both property crimes and personal assaults. Even deranged bad guys don’t want to be shot at, and that’s why they select places where they know no one will be shooting back.
Despite Bornstein’s flat wrong research, the facts are that in countless situations over the years, attempted gun assaults have been thwarted because one of the potential victims was armed and was able to stop the shooter.
There have been many other examples of where the carnage of a mass shooting was greatly limited due to the bravery and weaponry of a bystander. Just a few years ago, there was a mall shooting that would have been far worse were it not for the courage of an off-duty police officer who happened to be enjoying a meal with his wife when the shooting started. This officer put down the shooter and saved many lives.
Many schools across the country have already begun to recruit and hire armed and trained security personnel to protect their students. Is this a panacea? Of course not. Will this approach alone stop all future school shootings? Unfortunately, it probably won’t.
But to do nothing as Bornstein proposes is completely irresponsible. Sure, a single security officer can’t be everywhere and there may be the possibility that he or she can’t prevent another tragedy like Sandy Hook. But at least it will significantly increase the deterrent to a would-be assailant, and there’s a very good chance that a brave security guard just might happen to be in the right place at the right time to prevent another horrific shooting.
My daughter works in a middle school in a rural area not dissimilar to Sandy Hook and regrettably, due to budget constraints, the money is simply not there at this time to hire an armed security guard. But the top administrators in her district have thankfully gotten the message and are now in favor of moving in that direction. It’s going to become far more accepted across this country, and I for one would feel a lot safer knowing that people I care about are being protected by a trained and armed security guard.
Accepting Bornstein’s argument will all but guarantee more school shootings. For that matter, following his logic, the United States wouldn’t have armed and defended itself after Pearl Harbor.
Stephen Johnson Jr.