Guns Don’t Kill People— But Teachers Do?
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
This sentiment, once the preferred conservative explanation for why gun violence occurs, has since been reduced to a satirical meme among the left. The critics who mock the phrase are, of course, correct — guns do, in fact, kill people, at a rate of at least 100 victims per day in the US. There’s a reason why terrorists and mass killers use guns as their preferred method of slaughtering innocents as opposed to, say, knives: because guns kill more people more quickly than a knife would. People do kill people, it’s true — but they’re more likely to do so successfully when they have a gun.
But let’s pretend, for argument’s sake, that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” accurately explains America’s gun violence problem. It doesn’t, but let’s pretend. It’s been almost a week since the horrific, sickening attack on an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and, as always after a mass shooting, Republicans are arguing that if the teachers at the school had been armed, they could have prevented it.
Here’s the problem with that argument: guns don’t kill people, people kill people, right? So if teachers had been armed, their guns alone wouldn’t have stopped the shooter. The weapons themselves wouldn’t have crawled out of their desks on their own and killed the shooter, right?
Because guns don’t kill people.
The teachers themselves would have needed to emerge from the safety of their hiding places (which, depending on the circumstances, could have alerted the shooter to their presence and the location of their students), engage the active shooter, and, hands shaking and hearts racing as terror overtook their bodies, hope to God their shot was more accurate than his.
Because only people kill people.
That’s the GOP logic, right?
But as we saw on that horrific and devastating May afternoon in Uvalde, Texas, even the cops — the trained experts whose very job was to protect the citizens from exactly this sort of thing — were too afraid to engage the shooter. But you think teachers should have to put their lives on the line?
The GOP officials making this argument are, of course, the same people who have spent the past six months calling teachers “groomers.” And we know that teachers in red states make less than teachers in blue states. So the GOP wants to underpay teachers and accuse them of indoctrinating innocent kids — but they also expect them to engage an active shooter in the event that the police just don’t feel up to doing their jobs that day?
That’s bullshit and you know it.
Our solution to mass shootings can’t be to stop them at the door of an elementary school. By the time a shooter clad in body armor and carrying an AR-15 has reached the doors of an elementary school, it’s too late. A mass shooting needs to be stopped at the door of a gun shop. The only way to fully prevent mass carnage that only good guys can acquire guns.
Many states don’t let former felons vote and we don’t let people drive without passing multiple tests and we don’t let people without state-issued ID buy booze. In all facets of public life, we require citizens to prove that they’re willing and able to follow the rules before we allow them certain privileges. Requiring the same of people who wish to access a firearm hurts no one. We can and should do it in such a way that doesn’t restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. But what almost every mass shooting in recent memory (of which there are many) had in common was that the shooter acquired their firearms legally. Plain and simple, it should be harder to get a gun. Saying so doesn’t mean I am anti-gun, nor does it mean I want to take your guns away, nor does it mean I’m advocating that we repeal the 2nd Amendment. I’m not. When your GOP congressman tells you that that’s what people like me want, he’s lying to you. As long as you’re following the rules, we want you to have access to your guns. But we want fucking lunatics to find it much, much, much more difficult to access them. That isn’t radical. It’s basic fucking logic. And it’s pro-life.
What isn’t pro-life is expecting underpaid teachers to engage an active shooter. It’s stupid, unproductive, and just won’t work. But the time to act on gun violence is long overdue. It’s time to pass meaningful policy that saves lives. It’s time to make sure bad guys can’t get guns anymore.