In part two of my interview with Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs, we discuss the need for real security on school campuses, “gun free zones,” and what the gun control agenda is really about. Part one of our discussion, about gun violence restraining orders, can be found here.
JVL: Despite all of the measures we currently have to keep guns out of the wrong hands, people with evil intent do gain possession of them. Knowing that, how do we secure places like schools?
BC: First of all, we need to get rid of the invisible, do-nothing “gun-free” zones and stop prosecuting good, law-abiding Americans for “gun crimes” that aren’t. So-called “gun-free” zones are nothing but fake, feel-good policies. Evil and violent people don’t just change their minds about hurting or killing people because they hit some invisible line 1000 feet away from a school. We need to make sure law-abiding people can defend innocent lives until law enforcement can respond. If they respond. And by the same measure, someone who is a law-abiding gun owner, including a teacher or school administrator or a janitor or anyone else, doesn’t suddenly become a suspect when they hit some invisible line 1000 feet away from a school.
We believe that any teacher or employee who can lawfully carry a firearm, and who desires to do so, should be able to. But protecting school buildings is no different than protecting capitol buildings, airports, and courthouses. Let’s take steps to physically keep evil and insane killers out of our schools in the first place.
We acknowledge that some people hate the idea of real security at schools. To many of them, it would be easier to just ban guns and people, to say, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in.”
She’s not kidding – she wrote the first federal ban on so-called “assault weapons” and she would have just banned everything if she could have. And just yesterday she said, “I am not going to stop, ladies and gentlemen, until we get these AR-15s off of the streets.”
But make no mistake, as awful as Senator Feinstein is, it would very likely be ten times worse for decades to come if she’s replaced by California State Senator Kevin “ghost gun” de León.
(Seriously. Watch this guy. Even better, watch the cop behind him.)
JVL: Well, give DiFi points for saying what they’re really out to do. What drives me nuts is hearing people say they don’t want to turn our schools into “prisons” or use security measures which are proven to work but then scream at everyone else to just “do something.” To them, the only thing to “do” is to have people hand over their guns. They think since guns are dangerous that negates the Second Amendment.
BC: As law professor Josh Blackman articulated in his excellent article, all rights are dangerous and all constitutional rights have social costs. Even the Supreme Court pointed this out in McDonald v. Chicago when it held that “[t]he right to keep and bear arms…. is not the only constitutional right that has controversial public safety implications.” Indeed, “all of the constitutional provisions that impose restrictions on law enforcement and on the prosecution of crimes fall into the same category.”
So the real question is, how we can best secure kids and teachers given that the right to keep and bear arms is part of our social fabric? Hundreds of millions of guns are out there. That number is only going up. And crock-pots are still pretty cheap. If you’re not working on effective security, then you’re just not living in the real world.
If parents and lobbyists and gun control advocates really want to protect kids and teachers, then they should take effective measures to do just that. If they don’t want schools to have real security, that’s a choice, too. But law-abiding gun owners are just sick and tired of being blamed for the depraved acts of evil and mentally ill people. We aren’t the ones hurting people, shooting kids. We want to protect kids.
But in times like these, it’s crystal clear that pushing the gun control agenda is more important to many Democrats and Republicans than actually protecting kids. We have trained vets who would volunteer to defend our schools, but can’t. That’s just insane.
JVL: That kind of blows any “we don’t have the money for armed security” argument out of the water. Going beyond simply allowing teachers who want to carry guns to do so, do you think teachers should be required to receive firearms training?
BC: We think that teachers who can and want to carry guns or Tasers or knives should be able to do that. At some point our society might decide to mandate that teachers receive training and stay armed. We don’t think we need to make that decision yet. Long before we get there, we should be doing things to keep killers out of schools in the first place.
It’s not very reasonable or practical to rely on teachers to be the first line of defense. Just like securing a city hall or the White House, or your house, you want to have layers of protection. We’re not suggesting a bunch of ‘security theatre’ like the TSA does at airports. But if America wants kids and teachers to be protected, then let’s look at what we do for politicians, judges, and even government agency workers. The people telling the rest of us how to live, the Hollywood types and billionaires, they have physical security and armed guards. Why should American kids have less?
But in the final analysis, some teachers might well be the last line of defense for their class, so it would be rational for them to be prepared for that. Mass killings at schools are just so statistically rare as a cause of death that a broad mandate on teachers being armed at all times is probably premature, and other security measures should be implemented first.
JVL: As we now know, teachers and administrators in Parkland actually were the last line of defense for their class, and I would bet some of them would have wanted access to a gun at that moment. And I’m pretty sure I know your answer to this question, but, should people other than teachers be allowed to carry guns on campus?
BC: Law-abiding gun owners should be allowed to defend their lives pretty much everywhere, and especially anywhere the government is unwilling or unable to ensure the security and safety of the people in its care. If law enforcement has no legal duty to protect you, then it’s up to individuals. Murder was a crime in Florida last week. Schools were supposed to be “gun free” last week. Criminals don’t care.
The Second Amendment isn’t about guaranteeing outcomes, it’s about preserving the fundamental, individual right – and the opportunity – to use deadly but just force against deadly unjust force. If some crazy or evil person wants you hurt or kill you, that’s when the Second Amendment matters. It protects your pre-existing human right to an opportunity to fight back, rather than just sitting there and waiting until it’s your turn to get hurt or killed, hoping or wishing or paying that enough good people with guns show up in time to save you if they can.
JVL: I’m glad you brought that up – what the Second Amendment is about. It’s totally misunderstood in the public square today. What can Second Amendment supporters do to help protect this important right and educate others?
BC: American gun owners need to remember that they aren’t the evil people committing these awful crimes. We need to get out of the closet, out of the gun safe, and do away with the gun owner Stockholm syndrome.
We are normal people who have normal lives and normal families. We have normal human rights, and we exercise them just like normal people do. Millions of people carry guns outside their homes every day. That’s not crazy or controversial, it’s just called normal.
And take pride in your choices and your values. When an anti-gun neighbor realizes that their favorite man or woman one house away is a proud gun owner, it’s going to challenge them to see us as real people who they love and respect rather than some angry, evil collective of middle-aged white guys the fake news media portrays us all to be.
Also, the Constitution is there for a reason – to protect unpopular views and rights from the majority. Get involved, get informed, and get active. Start by focusing on one key issue, do a lot of research and learning, ask a lot of questions, and develop some specialization.
And, of course, all gun owners should strongly consider supporting organizations that fight for their rights and their values. Don’t just join one, join them all if you can. We each have a different perspective, a different underlying philosophy, and we each do work differently. Don’t make being pro-gun rights a ‘Brand X’ versus ‘Brand Y’ thing. That’s not how this works. That there is a tremendous value in having many different organizations out there working to defend and advance your rights.