Build walls or safe schools?
Our President, and many Republicans in Congress, seem to want to spend $20-40 billion dollars on a giant wall on our southern border to curb the influx of illegal Mexicans into the U.S. According to Pew Research, that massive influx is actually 1 million fewer Mexican illegals in the U.S. as of 2017 than 2007. There is no influx.
On the other hand, our schools are crying out as students march for safety, to demand an end in ignoring their simple demands for safe schools, a problem that federal funding really can help. It is a need that really is crucial and urgent.
Will we get a wall or schools that are safe?
Unless Congress suddenly stops ignoring real needs, the wall looks like a better bet. We deserve a better Congress.
But, first, we deserve an end to the rhetoric of the NRA as lip-synced by their bought and paid for congressional allies. Here are the words that can identify when you are speaking to a congressperson who could care less about the kids:
“Hope and prayers.” Yep. Translation, “We intend to do absolutely nothing to curb school shootings.”
“It is a mental health issue.” Indeed, 22 percent of school shooters have been diagnosed with mental health issues, leaving only about 80 percent of the shooters excluded from this solution. But if it is a mental health issue, then why would Congress not better fund mental healthcare, which today is predominately passing out prescriptions and outpatient treatment.
“Guns don’t kill, people do.” Ya think? It turns out that the absence of guns results in a whole lot fewer people killed. According to a World Bank report, a person is about 25 times more likely to die by gun in America than in any other developed nation. In Germany, you are as likely to die by a gun as being hit by a falling object from the sky. Yes, that is literally a statistic.
“We need to arm the teachers.” Great idea, except that teachers are not trained in law enforcement and gunfire exchanges. Teachers don’t wear Kevlar vests. Teachers are not part of a trained swat team. Teachers do not want guns in their classroom.
“If more people were armed, there would be fewer gun deaths.” Sure, just like if more people drove drunk that would be fewer car accidents. Fortunately, there are still facts in the world, and at least two studies confirm that where there are more firearms there are more homicides.
“There is nothing we can do.” This one is understandable, and if an elected official tells you this you should know to boot them from public office and find someone who is not helpless in the face of real danger to our children.
So, what can we do? Quite a bit.
For starters, Congress must divert $20 billion from the wall silliness to funding school security nationally and do it right now. Schools need single entry points, security officers, secure interior doors, cameras, perimeters outside the buildings expanded and whatever innovative solutions make the classroom as safe as the local bank or courthouse.
Congress needs to pass laws that prohibit any means of converting weapons from semi-automatic to automatic and seize all bump stocks found. Our police deserve to not be outgunned by criminals. We need real background checks on every gun sale without exception, even when buying your AR-15 from uncle Bob.
We need laws that prohibit the manufacture and sale of any gun that fires more than 10 rounds per minute. There is absolutely no reason for more rapid-fire weapons in America.
We need legislation that limits gun magazines to 10 rounds maximum. We should tax any bullet that can be used in a semi-automatic at rates that greatly reduce the sale of such bullets.
Most importantly, we need elected officials that stop ignoring America’s real need to make our children safe. And we need action now.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.