Scott A. Hodge [above] doesn’t have a strong opinion on the NRA’s post-Sandy Hook recommendation to put cops into every school in the country. Hodge’s only concern: who’s going to pay for it? If nothing else, Taxing Guns to Pay for Cops in Classrooms? taught me the official name for a tax designed to limit indirect societal costs from a given activity (a.k.a., “negative externalities”). It’s called a Pigouvian tax. The University of Illinois grad wants it applied to guns. Just one or two leetle problems, though . . .
The poli-sci major turned economist figures that putting cops into schools will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.6 billion. Annually. One wonders where the money might come from.
As a thought experiment, one option [to pay for cops in classrooms] would be to levy a “Peguvian”[sic] tax on guns in the same way we put excise taxes on tobacco or pollution as a means of offsetting the externalities that they impose on society. The challenge of these types of taxes is setting the tax rate at a level roughly equal to the cost it places on society.
No, the challenge is to figure out how much the sheep should pony up to pay for the sheepdogs. As I have pointed out before (see my rebuttal of Fact #9 here) more than twice as many lives are saved annually in DGUs as are lost to CGUs. That’s what I meant by positive externalities.
There’s also the fact that 62.1% of peer reviewed studies published by economists and criminologists show that “shall-issue” permit laws actually reduce violent crime in the jurisdiction.
[For the sake of completeness I should probably mention that 34.5% of those studies show no effect (i.e. no negative externality) and only 3.4% (one out of 29 studies) show a slight, temporary increase in one type of crime.]
Scott admits that it can be tricky to calculate these things. He goes on to take a S.W.A.G. at it anyway:
Well, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation some 10.8 million firearms were purchased in 2011. So if we divide the $6.64 billion cost of 98,817 police officers by 10.8 million (we’ll ignore the private schools for the sake of this example), we get an excise tax of $615 for every new firearm purchased in America.
This is clearly a hefty tax to put on each firearm sold every year. But if the goal is to internalize the cost of protecting schools to the source of the danger, this is roughly what it would cost to do so. The other option is to shift the cost to all taxpayers, even those who may never own a gun.
No Scott, a tax of $615 per gun isn’t something you do to “internalize the cost of protecting schools.” It’s something you do to effectively ban guns without actually banning them.
Especially since firearms are not “the source of the danger” any more than box-cutters were the source of the danger on 9/11 or a buck’s worth of gasoline was the source of the danger in the Happy Land fire.
The source of the danger, just like Soylent Green, is people. At Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, at McDonald’s in San Ysidro, at the Civic Association in Binghamton, at Columbine, at VA Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, and Sandy Hook; at all of these places it was deranged people who set out to commit mass murder.
And oddly enough, at all of these places the victims were disarmed for the convenience of their murderer.
But here’s a question: why do we need to hire cops (or anyone) to do this? According to the GAO there are eight million people licensed to carry concealed in the U.S. (this doesn’t count the Constitutional carry states, WY, VT and AZ). There have to be plenty who already work for schools and would be willing to carry.
Furthermore, I’m betting that if the school board kicked in for the cost of a permit class and up to, say, $500 for a pistol you’d have a lot of people without permits willing to volunteer to get one. Throw in a few hours of school-specific training and voilà; you have an incident reaction force instead of a bunch of bullet catchers.
As for the cost, a permit class, the application fee, $500 towards a gun, a few thousand rounds training ammo; let’s call it $1500 per person. Let’s go really big and assume that you have an average of 10 volunteers per school; that will give you a one-time cost of $15,000 per school instead of an annual cost of $67,242 per cop.
Hell, for most districts that’s less than the rounding error from their textbook budget. Throw in ongoing costs of $2,000 a year for training ammo and a refresher seminar (which you can raise from a single bake sale) and you have an extremely economical alternative to a cop in each school.
“But wait,” I hear from a plaintive anti-gunner in the back of the room. “What about places like New York City, Chicago, Hawaii and San Francisco that are dedicated to reducing gun violence?”
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but fuck ‘em; they’ve made their bed, let them lie in it and suck up the “negative externalities” of denying people the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of their choice.
Common sense, no?