Small World: Helping the NRA to protect us

Henry Precht

By Henry Precht

BN Columnist

The NRA (Not Responsible for Anything) says it has a plan for addressing gun crimes in our schools. It is incumbent on all citizens to assist this organization — tangibly or with advice — as it is one of the real powers in our government. The plan calls for an armed guard in every school. If not specially hired, the guards would be volunteers. Let us look at this idea and alternatives for affecting the plan.

Hiring guards can be quickly dismissed. At $80,000 a year per guard in each of the nation’s 100,000 public schools, we are talking about adding a huge, huge chunk to the deficit, something all politicians have sworn to resist.

Rounding up volunteers would also be complicated. Using school staff has been suggested. When I think back to my teachers in 38th Street School, I can only think of two — Ms. Moore and Ms. Reid — who were conceivably tough enough to carry and theoretically use a gun. A better choice might have been Mr. Eyler, the scholarly principal. Howard and I were once late for school and were scampering up the back steps as the bell went off. There was Mr. Eyler at the top of the stairs, glowering at us with fury and ordering us to return to the bottom and walk quietly to our classroom. If he had had a semi-automatic weapon, perhaps he might have sprayed us with lead.  Hard to find a reliable guard, I would say, among the staff at 38th and most other schools.

Looking outside school systems for possible neighborhood recruits, we find Mr. Allen smoking his pipe on the corner. Retired or fired, he had a lot of free time. During WWII, he was a block warden, patrolling the streets during test blackouts and rapping sharply on windows or doors when light appeared through a crack. I wouldn’t count on him — a would-be dictator.

There was also Howard’s father, Mr. Pearson, a train engineer who had a lot of time off, usually sitting by the window, waiting for the moment to leave for his shift. Another advantage was he owned a pistol, which Howard once showed us. But, Mr. Pearson was probably out of the running after Howard used the gun to put a bullet through his temple.

So back to hired guards, but how to pay for them? Two models for collecting funds spring to mind: autos and tobacco.

Highways and other amenities for autos, we know, are financed largely by a tax on every gallon of gasoline purchased. Drivers pay it; non-drivers don’t. That might work to finance school guards. Gun owners would pay a tax on every bullet, weapon or related paraphernalia sold. Gun control freaks would pay nothing.

If, however, the auto gasoline model failed to generate sufficient cash, we could try the tobacco scheme. You will remember that cigarette manufacturers were obliged to pay states hefty sums that went towards trying to end smoking. The same plan could be applied to paying for school guards. Gun makers would be required to pony up big money to hire them. (Would they then have enough profits left over to pay their NRA dues?)

If both of these models fail to make the NRA plan a reality, I can think of only one other model to try: the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Using that agency’s standards, any weapon that fails to manifest a truly beneficent purpose and, instead, is a threat to health and mortality, would be banned.

Henry Precht is a summer of Bridgton.

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