2013

17 April 2013: Let sheriffs enforce laws, teachers teach

Let sheriffs enforce laws, teachers teach

One wonders about the reason supposedly small-government group advocates for a broader expanse of government until one comes back to the fact that the NRA is not a gun-ownership rights group as much as it is an ideological consortium led by political fanatics who will brook no deviation from its religious orthodoxy.

One wonder as well about the reason agents of law and order—county sheriffs—would advocate for arbitrary regard for law enforcement until one recognizes that such sheriffs are not law enforcement professionals as much as they are political animals, driven by personal passions and ideology that unfortunately controls their judgment.

Both are at best ironic and inconsistent and at worst show the players—proponents of using federal tax dollars to hire trained guns to police school halls and county sheriffs who believe it is within their purview to decide which laws they will enforce and which they will disregard—are first and foremost ideological partisans.

It is a creed among conservatives that the federal government has grown beyond its britches, intruding into nearly every aspect of American life so much that is an-American.  Of course, I’m making an assumption that the NRA proponents of the policy are hardly dye-in-the-wool liberals, but hard-core, rock-ribbed conservatives on far more issues than gun rights.

With regard to the outspoken sheriffs, their true colors are showing.  As part of the executive branch of government, their job is to enforce the laws enacted by the legislature, the representatives of the people, and bring offenders to the courts to be adjudicated.  If a law for any reason is unenforceable, it is not their job to decide because they have turned in to armed enactors, enforcers, judges, and juries, embodying all three aspects of our tri-partite system of government in one man.

The logic of the proponents in both situations fails.  In the case of the NRA’s proposal to use federal government funds—“militarize” in the words of the Denver Post editorial—through grants from the Departments of Homeland Security, Education, and Justice the public schools with security personnel, why should only certain professionals be armed and not all?  Why not custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers?

In fact, why shouldn’t students who might’ve passed a NRA-sanctioned gun safety and training course, just as Sandy Hook Elementary shooter Adam Lanza had be allowed to be armed?  After all, much as the courts have ruled students’ First Amendment rights don’t stop at the school door, neither then, one supposes, should their Second Amendment rights.

Besides, what’s the magical age for maturity when it comes to firing a weapon?  That act is not equivalent apparently to driving a car, which most states have decided is 16.  Can’t first graders pull a trigger?  This might seem an exercise in absurdity, but in fact much of the arguments promulgated by Second Amendment worshippers are just that.

Perhaps what is more frightening is the fact that an elected official, understandably and necessarily armed, is willing to install themselves as king.  What’s to stop any sheriff or his deputies, once he/they decide to ignore the will of the legislature from disregarding other laws or selectively enforcing them?  It’s more than a slippery slope: it’s a plunge from the walls of democracy to the abyss of tyranny.

A teacher’s job is to teach, not to shoot.  It’s called education, and when societal madness finds its way into a classroom, as tragic and horrific as it might be, a teacher’s job is to first and foremost do all he/she can to provide a safe place for his/her charges, not play Wyatt Earp or Annie Oakley.  Those well-intentioned educators that see themselves as modern-day Earps and Oakleys, need to find an alternative profession, for their passion is not focused on learning.

A sheriff’s job is to enforce laws, not decide the legislature was wrong in instituting them.   While disagreeing with their position, I understand their frustration.  However, they were elected to do a defined job, and if they’re unwilling to unfailingly do it, they should find the honor and courage to resign and run for another elected office in which they can help bring about the change they so much want to see.

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