Schools’ bond proposals ignore simple solution to school security

By: Dave Palmer

Voters in the metro Detroit area will face several important decisions come Election Day November, not the least of which is the Detroit mayoral election. However, other communities are focusing on appropriating money for local school districts.

According to the November 3 edition of the Detroit Free Press, Troy, Dearborn, Farmington, Romeo, Richmond, and Walled Lake school districts seek to borrow money to upgrade computer technology, renovate classrooms, and improve library facilities. Of these districts, Troy and Farmington also seek bond money to improve their building security measures, including such measures as “panic buttons, offices relocated to main entrances, camera surveillance systems, and buzzer systems to limit entry to the building.” The combined values of the bond measures is $473 million. However, Troy and Farmington School Districts requested the lion’s share of this total, with Troy’s 15 year obligation coming in at $125 million and Farmington’s 25 year obligation at $155 million.

The Free Press did not specify how much of each bond proposal was for upgrades to facilities and how much was for improvement of security (except in the case of Farmington Hills, which is seeking two separate bonds.) “It’s a sign of the times, as a post-Sandy Hook era forces school districts to take more comprehensive approaches to keeping intruders out of buildings,” the article states.

According to that logic, it’s simply a fact of life that we must turn our schools into veritable fortresses in order to keep our children safe. It is the contention of the article’s author that it is incumbent upon a majority of taxpayers to choose between reaching into our own pockets to pay for a problem caused by irresponsible gun owners and not providing physical security for our students. Never mind the fact that a faster and cheaper method for ensuring the safety of our children would be to ban all civilian ownership of assault weapons, and to require all owners of other types of guns to register their weapons and obtain a gun owner’s license through a fingerprint-based federal background check with requirements to renew every three years.

Before anyone starts writing angry comments, consider the facts. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, only 34% of Americans actually own a gun. That means that we are asking 66% of people to pick up a tab that they shouldn’t be responsible for. There is no reason that people who do not own a gun should be forced to pay for security measures in schools that are specifically designed to prevent someone with a gun from entering the school and shooting the place up. Gun owners should bear that responsibility in exchange for owning a device designed to kill and destroy.

The money necessary to upgrade schools in the manner prescribed by the bond issues could be collected from fees for registering guns, gun license application fees, gun license renewal fees, transfer of gun registration fees, and of course, a tax levied on fingerprints collected from gun owners. It might not provide the full amount necessary right away, but it will contribute to defraying the cost.

Also, be so kind as to dispense with the “criminals don’t pay attention to laws” argument. This is common knowledge. This is also why we have law enforcement agencies, and why the Constitution gave Congress the power to define criminal penalties for the laws they write. All they need to do is make the penalty for owning an unregistered gun extremely severe, and the penalty for owning a registered gun a with an expired gun owner’s license only slightly less severe. The Executive Department could prescribe strict enforcement for the laws, and the Judicial Branch should task themselves with assigning the maximum penalty in all cases of lawbreaking.

And please don’t tell me that requiring gun owners to register their guns is going to give the government (or a possible invader) a handy list of people who have guns so they can break down their doors and take their guns. Red Dawn was not a documentary. It was a work of fiction. We have the number one military in the world to keep us safe from anyone who might think about invasion, and our government has no desire to take all the guns. In fact, the only guns that would be seized according to my plan would be assault weapons, which no one but military personnel needs to use anyway.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” A strict constructionist read of this is that only members of a well-regulated militia need apply for a gun. So, unless you want to fight in one of America’s wars without training in the same fashion our founding fathers did, then you should have not problem sacrificing your assault weapons to keep your hunting rifles and “weapons for home defense.” Even a liberal constructionist view should interpret the amendment as providing for regulation of guns as the government sees fit.

We can no longer stand idly by and allow a minority of people in this country require the majority to subsidize the security technology industry by requiring us to pay them to beef us security at our local schools. Teachers already have a hard enough time making school seem like a fun and safe environment for learning. They don’t need buzzer systems, surveillance cameras, and bulletproof glass making it harder.

However, if this is the route we are destined to take, gun owners need to pay the price, not the rest of society. Tell your Representatives and Senator to pass meaningful gun control legislation in the form of an assault weapons ban so the rest of society doesn’t have to choose between a week’s worth of groceries and their child’s safety.