The Florida grade-school massacre, and the Connecticut one, and the one that happens next, are not a deviation from the basic design of our grade-schools, but a natural consequence.
Whether or not your nation protects citizen gun ownership, as mine is supposed to, yet another gun law will have no influence on those who have chosen to live outside the law, and creating a “gun-free zone” will govern the students and employees but assure any shooter that no one will be shooting back. Gun-free zones attract murderers, ever since the days when the jokes began about “going postal,” as Post Offices were the first notorious gun-free zones. They need not be government offices; the 2012 Colorado shooter drove past a couple movie theaters to shoot up one that declared itself gun-free. There is a reason why no anti-gun gadfly has a yard sign declaring his own residence a gun-free zone (apart from the fact that several famous ones pack heat anyway). But even this is just a symptom.
The starting point is that government schools are first and foremost coercive. Everything from student attendance to teacher salaries is backed by the implied threat of state force. It is no different in the Northeast, where funding decisions are famously made in a meeting where any resident can vote; these meetings are structured to prevent bold decisions such as zero-funding the schools, selling them off, and issuing vouchers to let parents choose competing schools. Attendees either benefit from, receive, or massage funds coerced from homeowners; schoolmarms hiss at dissidents and residents spend hours virtue-signalling.
Next, government schools are political; and everything in a political system is a resource to be used for any political goal. (Washington’s block grants to the states became contingent on the state enacting laws on everything from driving age to speed limits, Washington implicitly conceding that it cannot legislate on those topics, but doing so anyway through its role as paymaster.) Having custody of the kids, the school can propagandize them, feed them during and before classes, use them as pawns to elicit higher funding, have them design posters to advocate a theme that they did not choose and do not know enough to have chosen, and occasionally use them as spies to discover conditions at home.
The essential lesson (apart from the fact that the teacher can order your parent to do things!) is that it is not sufficient to learn to do things well. The youngster sat at one of a row of desks must have a plan to Make A Difference In Society – to get everyone else to do things, presumably things they don’t want to do, and to know that it was you who mandated it.
The resulting policies are designed to showcase the persons making it, and not necessarily to work well. To show we are serious, we need a Zero Tolerance Policy. Many school systems have a Zero Tolerance Policy against guns – which, since the goal is virtue-signaling, covers guns, drawings of guns, essays about guns, fingers pointed like guns, and in one case, a piece of toast bitten into the shape of a gun. A century ago, students intending to hunt after school brought firearms to the classroom; now, although some schools teach marksmanship and have Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, in the rest of the building, students are taught to fear the gun.
The rulemakers proliferate. The Anti-Bullying Manual now stretches beyond ridicule based on skin color or effeminacy and tries to legislate all conduct between school-kids, compelling them to act like miniature adults – because someone said so who outranks them. This has never been reality, and a new Manual will not make it so. Parents will have to skip work for unpleasant deliberations with school authorities – notably, parents who speak out against funding increases.
The policies and rules are written with no grounding in principle. A not-yet-man who wants to pretend he is a woman is no longer seen as mistaken but as part of a victim class, and the Manual prohibits the ridicule that in past generations slapped some sense into the kid, not that he is wrong about his “gender” but foolishly wrong. The school plays along, he is granted access to the girls’ toilet, counseling to correct the underlying issues is increasingly illegal, and citing the classic prayer for God to “grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change” would get someone fired. Special education, a ruinous new entitlement that now extends to children who are merely spoiled, wordsmiths an Individualized Education Plan to teach the kid, despite his misconduct, with no serious attempt to correct it.
Surely few school administrators would play along if a different pupil claimed his rendition of reality required him to kill all his classmates. But with what sudden concept of right-and-wrong would they convince him he must change his plans?
Government schools are virtually all unionized, so there is a fully staffed agency to get the word out that any vote against funding is a vote against children, and broadcast the usual union line that the way we all stay paid is to learn and repeat the same set of lies. State Education Associations are decidedly Marxist (though a repopulated Supreme Court seems set to rule that their funding must be voluntary). Students who cannot benefit from classroom education, and disrupt the education of the others, must remain in the classroom, to defend the institution and keep the loot flowing.
And the teaching profession is licensed, a perverse system in which all persons are guilty-until-licensed-innocent and licenses can be cancelled with no due process at all. Licenses are contingent on attending a Teachers’ College. Thomas Sowell has written longest and best about these wastelands. Colleges of Education do not teach the skills of making a subject interesting and motivating individuals, but teach the latest fads and union talking points.
The policing that might have prevented the school shooting, or ended it with less loss of life, is of course also political, unionized, and devoid of principle. President Obama was concerned about black pupils being carried by a “pipeline” from school to arrest to prison, and his Department of Justice always evaluated black arrests according to the national percentage of black people and not by the ratio of arrests to misconduct. The Obama Administration wrote a memo, eagerly embraced by the Broward County sheriff, threatening school districts with federal “civil rights” lawsuits and effectively granting nonwhite pupils an entitlement to misbehave. The Florida shooter was the subject of three dozen complaints, to agencies up to the FBI, including one plea that he was preparing to shoot up the school that he shot up, none of which were acted upon. It is not that a 19-year-old could buy a gun, it is that a kid who should by now be a felon was able to do so, when good-faith enforcement of existing law would have prevented it. You cannot send police toward a school in time to avoid the first dozen murders, but putting armed defense inside the school building, even into trained and willing hands, is opposed by the same Zero Tolerance zealots.
The aftermath of the gunplay is a stampede to enact yet more laws, to react to lawbreaking by assembling some of the ingredients of the current incident and legislating against an exact recurrence, or if you are in Congress, author a giant crackdown on the innocent, or at least on those who would never vote for your party. Higher age limits, waiting periods that will also lack good-faith enforcement, additional grounds for police to seize guns, or permission for Washington regulators to shear individuals of rights by placing them on a list that it will take years of lawyers’ fees to correct. Or the even more dangerous “mental health” push, in which a fortified army of social workers armed with artificial “intelligence” tries to predict future crimes and initiates new coercion in the complete absence of a current problem. None of these proposals will be effective, but the same school students know that their status as a “survivor” of the massacre (on Valentine’s Day, no less!) gives them a temporary stage to tug at everyone’s heartstrings until they get – whatever they want – to finally Make A Difference In The Community.
Everyone, in fact, has their favorite One More Law to “address” the school shooting. And I have heard no one who would rectify any of the root causes listed above. If your concern is avoiding a revolving door to prison, the first step would be to make schools less prison-like.