Thursday, April 11, 2013

Armed Protection Works

I remember the moment on December 14, 2012 that I learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.  It was just after 10 in the morning in Montana, and a bit past noon in Connecticut.   I climbed into the Jeep and turned on the radio as we were leaving the Holiday Pageant performance at Irving Elementary School.  I had just watched our then 6-year old, first-grade daughter sing with her classmates the sweetest songs.  The performance was touching -- it was precious.

Then I heard the Newtown news, that first graders, 6- and 7-year old children had been massacred.  I was crushed.  I cried. 

Our Bellamy, Irving Elementary School Holiday Pageant, December 14, 2012

I believe the kids should be safe.  I believe in protecting the kids -- all of them.

For 33 years I worked in a building that had armed guards at each of its four entrances, who demanded id of every entrant, and, during most of those years, required that anyone entering the building be authorized by an occupant.  The guards carried loaded handguns and had an arsenal of assault rifles ready at their command post.  Guests were screened through metal detectors.   It so happened we also had inspectors housed on the third floor, typically dozens of well trained men and women, each packing personal heat.  That’s not at all unusual in DC.  Much of the security is visible to the public.  Some of the federal complexes, like the Forrestal Building at the foot of L’Enfant Plaza and the Federal Reserve’s edifice on Constitution Avenue, have high profile, heavily armed guards patrolling the grounds, enforcing perimeter security.   

Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but with all this security, other than the occasional suicide, in my 33 years working in the area I don’t recall a single civilian shooting death up and down the National Mall, despite all the high profile targets.  There certainly were no mass killings -- tens of millions of school children visited safely.  Several federal officers responding to attacks lost their lives in the line of duty, but in each case attackers were subdued before completing their murderous plans.    

It has been safe.  Can you imagine the carnage if the National Mall were declared a gun free zone and armed security eliminated?  The White House, the Capitol, the Smithsonian’s, the IRS, The Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, the FBI, the State Department and the Monuments would all be vulnerable and subject to violent and successful attacks.  

Frankly, I cannot comprehend the logic of those who oppose training and arming select personnel at public schools.  It’s done at many exclusive private schools.  The public university two blocks from my kids' elementary school has its very own police force.  I would welcome a local school board decision to arm and protect.  My three kids would be safer for it.  The most important implication of armed school protection is that it plants a huge seed of doubt in the minds of cowardly attackers who, by definition, are seeking to assail defenseless innocents.  Their targets would not be defenseless anymore.  

The nutcases are looking for a path of least resistance.  Guarding and arming are enormous deterrents.  Block the easy path. 

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