Since the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. last month, there have been plenty of harebrained ideas put forth on how to keep students safe from armed predators in their schools, from arming teachers to placing guns in the hands of volunteer guards.
But perhaps the silliest of all comes from California Democrat Barbara Boxer. The U.S. senator has proposed that National Guard troops be deployed in public schools, or that National Guard troops be used in police departments so officers can take up positions at schools.
Considering that Boxer’s colleagues on the left and opponents on the right have hooted at the notion, don’t expect it to get anywhere. And for very good reason.
The purpose of the National Guard is to supplement active-duty armed forces when there is an emergency or a war. When a blizzard strikes or in the aftermath of a tornado or a hurricane, National Guard units are mobilized by the governor of a state. The units are mostly made up of part-time soldiers who also hold down full-time, civilian jobs. They’re not trained to carry out everyday law enforcement duties, from rousting speeders to answering calls about domestic disputes. And placing them in schools would be costly, divert them from other duties and create an unnecessary sense of siege. For all the revulsion we feel about school shootings, they are extraordinarily rare – every day, thousands of students attend thousands of schools without incident. Let’s face it, most National Guard personnel would spend hours twiddling their thumbs if this proposal ever came to pass.
Steve Chapman of The Chicago Tribune said it well: “Atrocities like this one are reason to consider new ideas. But let’s not get hysterical.”