News & Politics

4 Crazy Ideas Conservatives Proposed This Week for Preventing Gun Violence (Instead of Gun Control)

None of these will make schools safer.

Photo Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

There a few potential solutions that could deter mass shootings in the U.S. We need legislation; it’s too easy to buy automatic weapons built for warfare. We also need to rework the deeply rooted psychological problems that prompt men to take up arms; our culture of hypermasculinity fosters in some young men a tendency for violence (an alarming pattern of misogyny and domestic violence can be found among recent mass killers). We could also fix the way the media covers shootings, which has been proven to encourage copy-cat killers to seek their own 15 minutes of fame.

But some right-wingers, gorged on NRA money and blind with love for the Second Amendment, don’t want to take on any of these three solutions. Instead, they’ve come up with a few insane plans they think can prevent gun violence—each one more unbelievable than the next.

1. Give teachers guns and Kevlar vests.

Trump is all about this idea right now. After two days of White House meetings on gun violence, the best solution he’s come up with is to put even more guns in schools. He even suggested that armed teachers should be paid more.

What a sad state of things it is when we need to take time out of our day to clap back at his (and Newt Gingrich’s) ludicrous suggestion. Teachers have enough responsibility for too little pay as it is. Plus, speaking as a former teacher who regularly had to deal with fights and the ordinary spats that come with being a kid, trust me when I say, given the daily close contact between students and teachers, weapons in schools would only make schools more dangerous.

2. Teach children how to 'gang rush' armed intruders to take them down.

After Sandy Hook, conservative Daily Beast columnist (now at the Washington Post) Megan McCardle wrote, “I'd like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly.” Her ludicrous suggestion resurfaces every time a school shooting occurs.

Forget the fact that only 37% of high school seniors are ready for college-level math and reading due to our broken education system. Let’s spend precious class time turning students into MMA fighters! This insanity is actually catching on. Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld repeated this line on Fox News last week: “You have to be rational about it, which means hardening soft targets through drills and training,” he said (note the creepy reference to kids as “soft targets”). “Learning combat. Learning hand-to-hand combat. This works, by the way, for terror, if there’s a terror attack, and it works for school shootings.”

3. Bolster school security so that they mirror our prisons.

Sure, one way to defeat the school-to-prison pipeline would be to simply turn schools into prisons. This isn’t a liberal punchline; it’s an actual theory Fox’s Jeanine Pirro floated last week on air. “We've got to have experienced cops,” she said. “I don't care if they are retired or they're skilled cops working in the schools. And we've got to be able to have perimeter controls.”

Many schools, especially those in poor neighborhoods and “alternative” schools, already have this kind of military grade security. Would it not be simpler, safer and cheaper to keep guns out of kids' hands, rather than shooting them down when they bring them to school?

4. Punish people with mental health issues.

Finally, we can’t forget the right’s relentless drive to pin blame on the mentally ill. "Bring back psychiatric hospitals," Greg Gutfeld said last week, as he lamented the fact that today’s institutions are no longer the terrifying punitive institutions like those made famous by "One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest." Today’s psychiatric hospitals "house less than one-tenth of the people they did back in the '50s,” Gutfeld said, regretfully.

We should be skeptical of anyone calling for a return to the social practices of the 1950s. He also ignores the fact that prisons now house a huge chunk of the mentally ill. But seriously, what will Gutfeld call for next — bringing back widespread involuntary commitment and forced lobotomies?

We don’t need any of this nonsense. For the thousandth time: ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, make background checks mandatory and well-enforced, push corporate media to cover shootings more ethically when they occur, and take steps to dismantle violent masculine paradigms in our culture. Then our schools will be safer.

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Liz Posner is a managing editor at AlterNet. Her work has appeared on Forbes.com, Bust, Bustle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elizpos.