No, There Isn't A Middle Ground On Guns

I’m going to risk seeming unreasonable for a moment. You see, as we deal with this current round of the gun debate, we slowly see less of the outright vitriol that’s normal in the aftermath of a mass tragedy like Parkland. It’s taken longer to get to this point than normal, but what do you expect when the media has been driving this story over and over and over again?

Now, we’re entering the “we can find a compromise” phase of the discussion. This is when the more reasonable-sounding people write their op-eds about how we can all work together and find a solution to the problem. They try to frame the whole discussion as finding a middle ground.

Kind of like this op-ed in The New York Times.

There is no need for polarities here. Most people who don’t own guns understand that some people might truly need to own a gun. Most people who do own guns understand the need to keep other people safe. But our legislators, in thrall to the National Rifle Association, do almost nothing to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them, or to keep the most dangerous weapons — those meant to inflict the greatest damage to the most people in the least amount of time — out of the hands of civilians.

Tennessee has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. You don’t need a permit to buy a gun here. You don’t need a license to own one. You aren’t required to register any gun you own. You don’t need a permit to carry a rifle or a shotgun. You aren’t required to pass a background check if you’re buying a gun from a private person. It’s easier to purchase an AR-15 in Tennessee than it is to become a licensed exotic dancer, as two employees of Déjà Vu Showgirls, a Nashville strip club, demonstrated in a recent YouTube video.

Tennessee students are caught bringing a gun to school at twice the rate of the national average. The Tennessee General Assembly’s response to this unwelcome trend is to propose arming teachers. If passed, the bill, directed at campuses without a school resource officer, would allow a percentage of teachers to carry a concealed weapon. More than half the members of the Tennessee House of Representatives have co-signed the bill, though it is opposed by state education officials, the teachers’ union, the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican.

It’s never a good bet to look for sane behavior from the Tennessee General Assembly, but the opposition to this bill gives me hope. I don’t want my husband to work in a school where teachers are armed. I don’t want my son to work in a school where teachers are armed. All I want is for this state — and this country — to keep anyone else from going to school armed.

Yes, there is wide opposition to armed teachers. That doesn’t mean arming teachers is a bad idea. The writer recounts a story of how her grandmother was shot, but a good guy with a gun stopped the attack. A good guy at work.

Yet why is it so alarming, the idea of allowing teachers to have the same protections? We’re not talking about arming every teacher, a misconception that is probably driving much of the opposition. We’re suggesting allowing teachers with concealed carry permits–documents that allow them to carry in plenty of other places, where they do without incident–to carry just one more place. That’s it.

However, that opposition doesn’t represent any middle ground.

Opposition to one thing doesn’t translate to support for other things. Not wanting teachers to be armed isn’t even in the same ballpark as restrictions on magazine capacities or a ban on so-called assault weapons, which are two of the more reasonable restrictions being called for, if you can believe it.

And that’s why there won’t be a middle ground on guns.

Not changing one law is a far cry from trying to change dozens of others, and we’ve compromised plenty. Gun owners gave up ground all over the place in the name of getting along, and what do we have to show for it?

No, we’re not budging. We’ll not give up a single thing.