To the Editor:

Harden hearts against children by hardening soft target of schools? In his speech at CPAC, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre warned his audience to be “frightened” of any Democratic election victory: “What they want is more restrictions on the law-abiding. If they seize power ... our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.” LaPierre demanded more armed security in schools, including arming teachers. “God help us if we don’t harden our schools.”

Let’s follow the reasoning to its conclusion. The NRA and Republicans want more guns in schools, in the hands of teachers, administrators, custodians, additional security guards, even though the school resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, never went inside the school when the gunman began shooting at students. These pro-gun people say that these people with guns, concealed or stored in classrooms, would be trained, even though numerous instances involving police officers have shown that innocent bystanders often get hit in the crossfire. Unless an intruder or angry student with a weapon began shooting inside a classroom where a “good guy with a gun” might have a chance to defend the students, how long would it take for someone to locate the shooter? In most instances, most of the shooting takes place in just minutes.

In a chaotic situation with everyone panicking, would the “good guy” be able to distinguish innocent students from the gunman? Nikolas Cruz put away his AR-15 in his backpack after killing 17 students before exiting the building along with hundreds of other students; authorities didn’t find him for another hour.

But assuming schools are hardened into compounds of security, is the problem solved? We’ve already seen churches as soft targets. Encourage people to carry their bibles and guns into houses of worship? What about concerts, theaters, shopping malls, grocery and department stores – anywhere people congregate? Soon, America will look like third-world countries where on every street corner someone in uniform stands with a weapon ready. If this happens ... “our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.”

Patrick Ivers


(3) comments


Mr. Ivers,
You present interesting arguments. My concern for soft targets and the prevention of deranged individuals executing our children would go beyond what the official position of the NRA presents.

The more than 5 million member of the NRA have done more to protect all our constitutional rights than any other organization in the United States. The NRA has done more to educate citizens in lawful and respectful use of firearms than any other organization. But they do not represent all gun owners in that estimates show that 1 in 4 Americans own firearms. The 5 million strong membership of the NRA has been in existence since 1871 and our street corners are still free of uniformed guards.

Hardening needs to go beyond protection of our cherished institutions of our young generation. Certainly abuse of the 2nd Amendment occurs whenever a tragedy such as this occurs. But placing more restrictions on the 1 in 4 Americans who are not the problem, is like restricting the tires on NASCAR racing cars because a drunken individual has driven through a school yard during recess. I myself have spent many hours helping educating citizens in safe firearm handling and ownership to take discriminate regulations lightly.

I feel that many issues have contributed to the recent tragedies of late. When many of our children are left alone to raise their selves, they many times resort to certain media that presents them with a view that using guns and horrific actions to progress through life, with no consequences or pain, is normal. I personally do not watch TV shows that portray the lack of respect for human life, but I can’t hardly get through an hour of program on the Network channels before being subjected to commercials showing someone putting a firearm in someone’s face, in the interest of entertainment. Many of the actors taking part in these multiple acts of violence are making a good living portraying this sort of evil, which many of our children view for hours every day.

Other venues include video gaming that portrays the taking of life and hour long TV shows showcasing incarcerated criminals as entertainment. If we are going to place discriminatory laws against law abiding gun orders in that 2nd Amendment rights need to be regulated, shouldn’t we also start taxing the entertainment industry every time a scenario presents the threat of human life while regulating the 1st amendment? At least this money can be put towards the mental rehabilitation for those of the younger generation who walks the streets thinking that human life is for the taking. In this day and age, many disorders have materialized from lack of education and discipline that result in the administration of certain drugs taken on a routine basis, to help those who face depression, anxiety, and lack of stimulations. This has to have some effect on the visualization of life when taken regularly.

Many danger signals were ignored in the recent school shooting that need to be thoroughly investigated as well. America needs to harden to the fact that certain individuals are dangerous and that laws are in place to remedy this, but only if these existing laws are not ignored or bargained with, which allows this danger to walk free amongst ourselves and our younger generation.

I do not take these tragedies lightly and worry about my family existing in a social environment that now has many distractions and dangers that didn’t exist a decade ago. But I feel that the 1 in 4 Americans that are gun owners are not the problem. A soft attitude towards life that allows our children to view violence on a daily basis and allowing the existence of graphic video games that has no value of human life is routinely finding its way into our lives in a negative way. There is no simple singular solution to the prevention of tragedies occurring now. But I am appreciative of the dialog that can bring solutions that can allow our children to be safe. I would argue this, If this DOESN’T happen ... “our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.
Kenny Lankford


Yours is a much more nuanced response than most pro-gun people have expressed. One of these Second Amendment (all other rights be d*ned) warriors asked me if I had a stop-gap response. No, I don't have a stop-gap because gun lovers & kowtowers to the NRA have repeatedly denied liberals & progressives & some reasonable people on the right the most reasonable recommendations. They (gun lovers) with the NRA couldn't even eliminate bumpstocks after the massacre in Las Vegas. They've denied funding for research into gun violence by the CDC & other researchers. It's all on them now. They let the bull into the china shop, so now they’ve got to remove that bull. What are they going to do now that they have blood on their hands?
People of the right-wing conservative persuasion repeatedly focus on mental illness, though they’ve done nothing about providing funding for better treatment, advanced notification from psychologists & psychiatrists (though most professionals in the field of mental health say that the vast majority of people suffering from mental illnesses are not inclined toward violence against themselves or others), or institutions for those in need of long-term hospitalization. Opposing reasonable gun-control measures is completely irrational, an indicator of mental instability, illness, or disability, thus anyone who opposes reasonable gun-control should be denied owning a gun. But I assume you’re unwilling to accept that diagnosis. So, let’s look at where we have data about thousands of people annually who do use guns in violent circumstances, beginning with suicides. If people who show symptoms of depression when facing a terminal disease, an emotional trauma, or a looming financial disaster (such as farmers) were deprived of firearms, lives might be spared. Or do you favor self-inflicted euthanasia? A bloody scene as a friend of mine when we were teenagers encountered, coming home to find his father dead in the bathroom with his head blown off, leaves an gruesome indelible memory. How about people who show a monomania for a particular obsession, such as Capt Ahab for revenge against Moby D*ck, hoarding an arsenal of weapons because of their fantasies of paranoia that somebody is out to get them, such as the government, when no such evidence exists? These people shouldn’t be allowed to have assault rifles & high-caliber pistols either if we want to protect innocent people rather than protect guns in the hands of people capable of killing others & themselves (often the shooter shoots himself after the massacre).
As for those who keep referring to the Second Amendment as guaranteeing them the individual right to own guns, NPR legal-affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg has this to say: “For most of American history, the legal consensus was that the right to bear arms was not an individual right but a right for the militia, those called up for military service. In fact, I remember Chief Justice Burger, who was a conservative chief justice, saying that the idea that there was an individual right was really ridiculous. But that changed with some scholarly work and pressure and cases brought by gun rights advocates. And in 2008, in the Heller decision, the court said that there is an individual constitutional right to have a handgun in one's home for self-protection. And two years later, in a second case, the court made clear that its decision applied to the states as well as the federal government.”


Just a couple quick questions: who gets to decide who is not mentally capable of owning a gun? On what basis do they make that determination?

Mental health is a huge part of the problem, yes, but we run a dangerous line when we go there. It also seems to me that guns were arguably more accessible 30 years ago when I was in school yet we did not have these shootings. What's changed?

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