Monday in Los Angeles, elementary and middle school students returned to their campuses after winter break. Security at the schools was increased in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Officers from the LAPD, the County Sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies visited many of the campuses. While high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District have long been dangerous places and under the watchful eye of law enforcement, elementary and middle schools have not been on LAPD’s daily schedule before, but now the agency plans to have patrol the more than 500 public elementary and middle schools on a daily basis.
Around 8:30 a.m. on Monday, the Glendale Police Department received a call from RD White Elementary School, stating a bomb threat has been made to the campus. All 880 students and staff were evacuated and reassembled in the parking lot of a nearby Whole Foods store. After a preliminary search of the campus conducted by police and fire departments, nothing suspicious was found.
When I was in elementary school the worst threat you had to fear was some older kid who might bully you into forking over your lunch money. Well, there was The Bomb, the A-bomb, but even as a kid, I never thought the Soviet Union would be crazy enough to use it. Now, as an adult, I live with a certain amount of fear, or at least concern, that terrorists, who are crazy enough to use it, just might. And kids, who should be greeted by teachers when they come to school are met instead by armed police, and they now must live in daily fear, not so much that a terrorist will threaten them with a bomb, but that a regular citizen will. A citizen with mental health issues and access to bomb making material who could very well carry out his threat, or just show up with semi-automatic weapons.
I watched a rather sick citizen Tuesday night when ultraconservative radio talk host Alex Jones appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” shouting, raving, and ranting with such angry velocity that he made Rush Limbaugh look like a shrinking violet. “1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!” he screamed. For once, I had to agree with Alan Dershowitz, who said afterwards, “You just see him speaking and you say to yourself, I don’t want that man to have a gun.” If I was a gun rights advocate, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want Jones representing my point of view either. But evidently, several million people think he has his finger on the pulse of the nation. Let’s hope that’s all he has his finger on.
On the saner, yet sadder side of the gun issue, Tuesday was the second anniversary of the Tucson, Ariz., attack that killed six people and critically injured former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She and husband Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, marked the anniversary by writing an op-ed published in USA Today announcing their Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative:
Forget the boogeyman of big, bad government coming to dispossess you of your firearms. As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don’t want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.”
As Giffords and Kelly imply, the right-wing is using their most formable weapon, fear, to bolster opposition to gun control. Fear that the tyrannical government, the pinko liberals, the unbelievers, the bogeymen, will take away your rights. It’s irrational and just not true.
Here’s a graphic I made some weeks ago and posted on Facebook that I think puts the question of rights in proper perspective:
85% of children killed in the world by guns are killed in the United States.
The title of todays post based on Gun, with Occasional Music, a novel by Jonathan Lethem.