We don’t yet know how the 18-year old suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at an Arlington, Texas high school obtained the handgun he used to would two people (two others suffered non-gunshot injuries), but we do know this: a universal background check law wouldn’t have stopped him. There’s nothing proactive or preventative about those laws at all. They can’t stop any gun from changing hands, only apply criminal charges after the fact.
You don’t need to be a Second Amendment advocate to realize this. You only need to possess some basic critical thinking skills. So what does it say that the biggest teachers unions in the country are demanding the passage of a universal background check bill in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting?
The heads of both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—which combined represent nearly 4 million educators—demanded that Congress take action on gun control on a Thursday press call.
“The House has done its job by taking action this summer to protect our students and communities with common-sense gun violence prevention,” NEA President Becky Pringle told reporters. “It’s time for the Senate to do what’s right, to keep our students safe from senseless gun violence.”
Randi Weingarten, the head of the AFT, went even further, and demanded the passage of even more gun restrictions.
“Teachers across the country are doing what they need to do to help our children recover. We need the Congress, the Senate, people like [Maine Senator] Susan Collins, people like [Alaska Senator] Lisa Murkowski, people like [West Virginia Senator] Joe Manchin—We need them to stand up and to support what the Biden administration is doing to support the safety of all of our children in America.”
“We know passing red flag laws work. We know enacting responsible firearm storage laws works. We know raising the age to purchase semi-automatic firearms to 21 works. We know requiring background checks on all gun sales works,” Weingarten continued. “It shouldn’t be controversial. There’s huge bipartisan support for these common-sense safety measures.”
Show the math, Randi. How do we know that passing these laws “work”? And work to do what exactly? Red flag laws haven’t reduced suicide rates in the states where they’ve been adopted, but they have abused due process rights. They also have no mental health component, and every state in the union already has civil commitment laws for those that truly pose a danger to themselves or others.
Storage mandates, as with universal background check laws, suffer from the fact there’s no way to proactively enforce them. It’s a charge that can be applied after the fact, but it won’t stop anyone from illegally obtaining a gun. And frankly, I’d argue that the government has no right to tell me how to store my firearm for self-defense anymore than they have the right to tell me where to keep my fire extinguisher.
As for raising the age to purchase semi-automatic firearms to 21, the courts have indicated that we’re probably going to be going in the other direction soon; getting rid of the ban on handgun purchases by those under the age of 21. An 18-year old is considered an adult in this country. They can get married. They can sign contracts. They can serve on juries. They can drive a car. They can vote. They can serve in the military, either through enlistment or the draft. And yes, they can keep and bear arms, though thanks to a quirk in federal law they can’t buy a handgun at retail until they’re 21.
We’re not going to gun control our way out of this problem. Look at the circumstances surrounding the shooting in Texas yesterday. This started with a fight, and ended with a gun being pulled. And while we’re seeing more cases of kids bringing guns to school this year, do you know what else is on the increase? Fights on campus, like this one in Merced, California last week.
At least three El Capitan High School students have been arrested in connection with a brawl at the school Tuesday that was captured on videos posted to social media. All three students are under 18 and face possible misdemeanor charges for allegedly assaulting Merced Union High School staff and a school resource officer, Merced Police Capt. Joe Weiss told the Sun-Star.
As the Chicago Crusader put it just today:
There is a crisis in the classrooms of America that commands our immediate attention.
Every teacher I know says teaching has been much more challenging since students returned to classrooms after pandemic restrictions. It’s normal to experience at least a temporary academic brain freeze after students have been out of school for a while. It happens after every summer break, but this feels different.
It’s not just that teachers are struggling to make up for lost time academically; it’s the atmosphere that accompanies students’ return. Fights are becoming a part of the routine day, in and between classes. Teachers taught to de-escalate are worried for their safety. Overzealous policing of schools is a separate, equally serious concern.
This isn’t a gun issue, and if the heads of the teachers unions weren’t such unserious political hacks they’d acknowledge that it’s a violence issue. Instead, by pretending we can gun control our way to safer schools, they’re putting students at risk. We need to get serious about school safety, and that starts with ensuring that fights don’t escalate into shootings, stabbings, or brawls involving dozens of students. Weird how the teachers unions are seemingly only concerned about one of those things, isn’t it? Well, at least it would be weird if we didn’t already know that the NEA and the AFT march in lockstep with the gun control lobby.