Someone should ask the principled anti-gun responders why there is so much outrage at the thought of armed guards in schools when school districts throughout California and elsewhere, particularly where Latino and black children go to school, have had armed police forces dedicated to patrolling their schools for years now.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner wrote in US News that the National Rifle Association’s solution to gun violence was an “unequivocal message” that the NRA is not willing to end gun violence and that they are committed to policies that will kill our children. Well, fine, but what was the unequivocal message to minorities and the poor when those same policies have been accepted as a matter of practice in their neighborhoods? Where’s was the outrage then?
When Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, suggested that a meaningful response to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was to employ armed guards to protect children at schools, the backlash against him by liberals was swift and indignant. David Gregory of Meet the Press interviewed Mr. LaPierre about his proposal with a sense of ire that was visually palpable.
Mathew Yglesias of Slate called the proposal foolish and the New York Times reported that school administrators throughout the country said it would be “paranoid” to deploy armed guards at schools. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post said it was insulting and from an alternate universe to suggest we need armed guards at school.
However, the ensuing derision by the anti-gun intelligenstia that armed guards in schools was a ridiculous option is the perfect example of how mainstream America is often ambivalent to the way minorities and poor neighborhoods live every day throughout the country.
Lost in the discussion over the horror of armed guards in schools like Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Connecticut which is over 95 percent white and where the median income is over $100,000, is that many minority children already go to school overseen by armed guards without so much as a peep from these folks.
Sandy Hook, like the Aurora shooting and the Tucson shooting, shocked the nation because the tragedy disturbs the narrative of the mainstream as peaceful and good-natured. These shootings mobilize the national conscience illustrated by Ms. Rowe-Finkbeiner for reasons beyond their simple tragedy, but because they offend our image of ourselves
Yet, the media continues with its fascination with these tragedies with a perverse sense of voyeurism, while feeding the outrage in Congress determined to finally put an end to these grotesque events. Guards in school are not the answer not because they really wouldn’t prevent another Sandy Hook, but because it would be a surrendering of the soul that we have already written off among minority communities.
Violence and soullessness is what consumes the poor and the underprivileged. Armed guards are but a thread of the tapestry of how we define minorities, and it is less shocking than it is expected that these communities would need police officers patrolling their schools.
In a study of school security measures throughout the country, it was found that schools with large minority populations at all levels of instruction were more likely to use metal detectors. The author of the study concluded that treating students like criminals was less about addressing criminal behavior, and more about the preconceived notion that minorities are inherently more dangerous.
And when violence does hit minority schools, the righteous rage in demanding humane solutions and the recoil against treating them as if they were in a prison, is lost from the discussion. Metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, armed guards, and patrols are legitimate options for handling violence in poor or minority neighborhoods.
However, nationalizing these measures, as suggested by Mr. LaPierre, is an affront to the respect we demand of a dignified citizenry. Where was the outrage then?
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.