I’ve been asking various 2nd amendment scholars what they think will emerge from the Newtown tragedy. Randy Barnett, a professor at George Washington University Law Center, had this to say — it sounds a lot like what gun owners in other states have told me in the past, that gun control advocates like Mayor Bloomberg are hypocrites:
"It is appalling to see this tragedy exploited to advance measures that would have done nothing to prevent it. I want to know the types of weapons Mayor Bloomberg’s bodyguards use to protect his safety, and whether he will order them to disarm. If not, why not? Is his safety more important than that of mere citizens?”
Given the combative tone of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre earlier today, we’re looking at a serious gun control brawl in the coming months.
Mayor Bloomberg, probably the country’s best-known gun control advocate, had this to say in response to the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre:
“The NRA’s Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country. Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe. Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Today the NRA’s lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence. While they promote armed guards, they continue to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives - not only in schools, but in our movie theaters, malls, and streets. Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That’s why 74 percent of NRA members support common sense restrictions like criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun. It is time for Americans who care about the Second Amendment and reasonable gun restrictions to join together to work with the President and Congress to stop the gun violence in this country. Demand a plan.” - Mayor Bloomberg, December 21, 2012
I find it almost impossible to write meaningfully about the children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary. Not just because it’s emotionally overwhelming — it is — but because it is simply inexplicable. Beyond what language can contain.
Instead, I’d like to say a word about the 6 women who died at the school that day:
As a child growing up in Texas, my Hindu parents taught me to regard education — the acquisition of knowledge — as a serious thing. That it is in fact sacred, the preserve of deities like Saraswati and Ganesha. When you’re a kid, that can be a little abstract, but certain basic rules — no defacing books, no touching books (or even paper) with your feet — take root.
One of the most fundamental principles, as far as they were concerned, was that teachers were to be respected. So for my folks, and for me now as an adult and parent, it was always mystifying to see teachers in this country, and teaching, be disparaged. Legitimate public debates over education reform seemed to cross a line at some point when they allowed the regular and casual vilification of teachers, to suggest that as a group they’re underperformers, or couldn’t make it in the ‘real world.’
And then things like this happen.
No teacher should think their lives are on the line when they enter a classroom, but tragedies like Newtown are stark reminders of the responsibility school instructors bear on a daily basis. My hope is that Victoria Soto — the 27-year-old Sandy Hook teacher reportedly shot dead as she rushed her kids into a storage room — will be remembered as not just an individual hero, but someone who helped redefine her profession.
Because just as we acknowledge with police officers and fire fighters, and with members of our military, the pay for teachers is rarely equal to the work put in. But the least we can do as a society is accord honor to those willing to serve.