TTAG often focuses on the conflict between individual liberty and public safety. The example that sets the stage for me: school lock-downs. Add to that list the current TSA pat-down searches at airports, the argument on open carry. Hurricane evacuations. Chicago’s pseudo gun ban. Washington DC’s pseudo gun ban. Etc. and so forth. Suppressing individual gun ownership has always been the “official” response. Why? I’ve been an engineer for over 20 years. Part of our safety/peer review process: develop worst case failure scenarios with focus on the potential costs (equipment, personnel, and financial). This thinking often carries over into management bureacracy, with a slight spin on worst case. Allow me to present a view into the mind of the other party . . .
Take school lockdowns. We gun-owning parents like to think we’ll always be there to protect our young-uns in times of trouble. But that ain’t always so, therefore we hope others will step up in our absence. Our viewpoint:
- nutjob invades school, no one can respond, kids dead, parents grieve.
- nutjob invades school, lawful armed response, nutjob dead, parents happy.
Note that the lawful armed response means either 100% patrol by cops, or armed parents, or armed teachers. So goes the armed teachers concept. But looking into the mind of the school administrator, we see the logical evaluation of the worst case scenario, re. teachers with guns:
- teacher accidentally shoots kid – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I (school admin) lose my job.
- teacher shoots kid on purpose – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
- teacher loses gun – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
- kid gets ahold of gun – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
- nutjob invades school, teacher with gun ineffective – lots of “I told you so” notes, followed by policy reversal, I get transferred.
- nutjob invades school, teacher responds, threat neutralized – yeah, like that’ll happen.
Thus in the mind of a bureacrat, teachers-with-guns is inherently bad. And statistically, a bad gamble. The number of schools versus the number of school shootings (no matter how sensational in the media) present very long odds that your school will be next. The chance of an accidental shooting is much, much higher.
So denying guns to teachers has no real downside, unless you’re real unlucky. Then what? Almost every investigation I’ve led has had management ask the following two questions: Did we have a plan? Did you follow the plan? It’s the way of the bureacrat. Nothing warms the cockles of a bureaucrat’s heart like “we had a plan, we followed the plan!”
Student lock-down is “the plan.” Simple, easy to implement, easy to understand, cheap, and you can present it to media with a straight face and look good doing it. Is it right for every circumstance? No. Is it easy to implement in every circumstance? Yes. Did I mention cheap? Decisions Made Easy, 101.
You see this same mentality on airline security. The odds of a gun mishap are much, much higher than the odds of a terrorist attack on any single flight. Any administrator that OKs CCW will be out of a job at the very next incident. The Decisions Made Easy solution is to stick with the current ban everything, search everyone plan. Simple, easy to implement, and who cares about customer complaints?
It’s not about stopping terrorists, it’s about appearing to do something while mainly protecting your job. City officials, police officials, school officials, the list goes on. They all relate to the lowest common denominator, and it’s not about protecting you as an individual.
So what does that mean to gun owners? It means those of us who are willing to take responsibility for our own individual protection are going to run head first into those who are responsible for protecting the public at large.
Robert recently had one of those motivation posters that said “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” I think he was going for gun ownership, but it applies to a much larger slice of life. No one wants to have the finger pointed at them after the next school shooting, saying that you should have done more. That’s completely understandable. But what’s not acceptable is hiding behind “the plan” which is mainly devised to make people feel better, without any actual protection.
Everyone is familiar with the phrase, I’m not authorized to make that decision. It’s above my paygrade. I’m just following orders. As they then continue on to trample your consitutional rights and suppress your liberty. After all, it’s much easier to make the “safe” choice. Safe and right are not the same. Safe means it is much easier to defend the decision if the SHTF. Right means there are some risks involved.
As gun owners, we must be the adults in the room. We must lead by example. We must vote the right people in office, and make sure the larger bureaucracy understands we won’t put up with certain things. We need to accept responsibility for certain risks, and insist that it’s our right to take those risks.
We need to make difficult decisions, and then live with them. We must reduce the size of the government to reduce the number of people telling us what to do. We need to insist that government be moved down to the lowest possible level – local. And then we need to hold the local government accountable.
Put simply, I’d rather have a neighborhood meeting to discuss armed carry in schools than to trust some administrator half a state, or half a country, away to make that choice for me. Because I already know the choice he’ll make, and I know why he’ll make it. And it’s the wrong choice.