Something of a culture clash is unfolding on today’s editorial page of the Seattle Times and Monday’s editorial page of the Tri-City Herald, with the Eastern Washington newspaper supporting the idea of armed school administrators and staff in the Toppenish School District, and the Western Washington newspaper calling the idea “a disaster waiting to happen.”
Which newspaper editorial board is right? Right now, Washington is ground zero in a gun control battle with dueling initiatives regarding background checks and how invasive they should be to someone’s privacy.
The one-page Initiative 591 says background checks must comply with a uniform national standard. Competing Initiative 594 is an 18-page gun control measure touting so-called “universal background checks” that even some supporters acknowledge would not prevent mass shootings and other violent crime. But, they say, it’s “a start.” Gun rights activists ask, “a start toward what?”
Toppenish is a community in the Yakima Valley, about 15 miles southeast of Yakima and Union Gap. This is farm and ranch country where people see a problem and deal with it.
KVI’s morning drive time talkmeister John Carlson discussed the idea, which was reported by this column the other day, at length during this morning’s 6 o’clock hour. It is not a new idea, but one that has been increasingly adopted by some school districts in the 18 months following Sandy Hook. That the idea came from the gun lobby likely adds to the angst of people who fundamentally hate guns.
The Herald editorial observed, “In school shooting situations, waiting for the police response -- no matter how rapid -- can cost lives. In a rural area, the police response can take longer, and the thinking is that administrators can respond more rapidly.”
In response, the Times editorial states, “Arming amateurs is asking for all of the accidents that come with putting guns in inexperienced hands in crowded quarters. The spectrum of tragedy ranges from guns that are dropped, grabbed or stolen to actually discharging a weapon and striking innocent victims.”
Gun rights advocates might presume to ask the Times about innocent victims being unable to defend themselves against an active shooter who faces no opposition. That question may have already been answered, first at Sandy Hook and more recently at Reynolds High School down in Troutdale.
Carlson’s remarks seemed to focus on the reflexive revulsion by liberals towards firearms. For some reason, the notion that legally-armed citizens can defend themselves, much less a school full of children, seems as alien as if the idea had come from Mars.
Carlson is no stranger to the cultural disconnect between Seattle liberals and the rest of Washington. When he championed “Three Strikes” and “Hard Time” initiatives 20 years ago – both measures launched by gun rights advocates to punish criminals rather than penalize law-abiding gun owners – the loudest opposition came from the liberal establishment.
While the liberal establishment wanted to lock up guns, people like Carlson and Alan Gottlieb, head of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, wanted to lockup criminals. It only became a “good” idea when then-President Bill Clinton supported it.
This culture clash is not an isolated problem. Today, Fox News is reporting a controversy in Connecticut where a high school student in Woodbury, doing research last month on a class project, discovered that he was unable to access the National Rifle Association’s website from Nonnewaug High School computers. He was able to open web pages for the anti-gun Moms Demand Action and Newtown Action Alliance.
Student Andrew Lampart confronted the school board, and they promised to investigate. That’s the best way for liberals to deflect a problem and stall until it goes away.
When schools block access to information they consider politically incorrect, that doesn’t need to be investigated, it needs to be immediately stopped. Likewise, if a crazy person with a gun, or knife, or some other lethal instrument, stages an attack at a school, that needs to be immediately stopped, and in Toppenish, they’ve decided that one way to implement that philosophy is to allow armed staff volunteers, with proper training, to take on the challenge.