How the right would stop another Newtown

Updated
A makeshift memorial in Newtown, Connecticut.
A makeshift memorial in Newtown, Connecticut.
Eric Thayer/Reuters

Since Friday’s Newtown shootings, Republicans and prominent conservatives have joined the national debate on how to prevent this from happening again. Of course, almost no elected Republicans have been willing to discuss gun control. Still, some ideas have been relatively reasonable—ensuring better access to mental health services, for instance, or examining the role of video games and movies in creating a culture of violence.

But others have been, um, less so. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more interesting ideas put forward by the right:

Put God back in schools

Mike Huckabee was the first prominent Republican to bring this idea up on the day of the shooting (although Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association did beat him to it by a couple hours), when he argued that “we’ve systematically removed God from our schools” which has turned them into  ”a place of carnage.”

Now Newt Gingrich has hopped on the bandwagon too, telling a radio host that “an anti-religious, secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life” helped lead to Newtown. Newt’s one specific proposal was to create a commission to talk about society’s lack of faith.

Tim Scott, South Carolina’s incoming GOP senator, made a similar argument, blaming “moral decay.”

NRA celebrity spokesman Ted Nugent echoed that notion, writing in a Washington Times op-ed that the shootings were the result of “a gigantic cultural cancer that is rotting America from within,” and saying the only solution is a return to “traditional family values.”

Arm teachers

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas was among the first to suggest this idea. “I wish to God [Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung] had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said on Fox News Sunday.

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, too, said on a local radio show that “if people were armed—not just a police officer but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon—certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the schools.”

In fact, the idea has been floating around since before the Sandy Hook tragedy, thanks in part to Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield. He’s now planning to reintroduce a bill to allow teachers to carry weapons in their classrooms and require that at least one be armed. Lawmakers from Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota and Florida have discussed similar legislation in the last few days.

In Virginia, Delegate Bob Marshall appears to ready to take McDonnell’s suggestion one step further. He’s announced he’ll propose a bill that would not just allow but require teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools.

And in South Carolina, Rep. Phillip Lowe has proposed a bill that would allow school employees to bring guns on campus under certain circumstances and with proper training.

The Brady Campaign to end gun violence calls the idea or arming teachers “insane.”

Teach children to run towards shooters

But the award for most inventive idea may just go to Meghan McArdle of The Daily Beast. In an article titled “There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre,” she argues that gun control is doomed to fail, and that instead we should teach children to rush towards shooters.

Beyond conjuring up images of the 1990 movie Kindergarten Cop, this suggestion appears to have relatively little practical merit. As we learned the day after the attack, Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung rushed shooter Adam Lanza and was shot dead.

It’s worth noting that McArdle is not the first to offer some version of this idea. As Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out, the Department of Homeland Security has given the same advice, although it suggests it as a last resort after one has tried to hide or run from the shooter. It’s also not apparently a suggestion for children.

Increase male aggression in schools

National Review writer Charlotte Allen gives Megan McArdle a run for her money in the “most inventive idea” category with her suggestion that feminine “passivity” was to blame for the attack, and that the shooter might have inflicted less damage if there were more men around. She says that “women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers,” and suggests “male aggression can be a good thing… but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools.”

She wonders what might have happened if “a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.” Unfortunately, Sandy Hook elementary stopped at 4th grade. There were no 12 year olds.

Perhaps Allen ought to team up with those pushing for a return to “traditional family values” like a stay-at-home mom. If fewer women were working as teachers, it might free up education jobs for some aggressive men to take over.

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How the right would stop another Newtown

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