Today, President Obama gave a press conference with Vice President Biden to discuss gun violence in America in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. The president stated, in part, that he and his administration “need to look more closely at a culture that all-too-often glorifies guns and violence.”
I agree that the violent words and images that permeate our society, particularly when they are directed at young people, need to be part of a vigorous debate. However, I am suspicious of Obama's intention to take any action. Given the president’s dependence on financial support and political cover from Hollywood, and his history of what happens when he says he has to “look at” something, I am not optimistic. From nuclear energy to entitlements, the president’s “look at” has become code for not doing anything or opposing any actual action.
Realistically speaking, legislation could take forever and still be ineffective, especially given all the guns that are already out there.
Another factor for the vice presidential review to consider is what it would take to provide a more aggressive, trained, armed response on-site. Schools and other similar institutions are targeted because they are vulnerable. What does it take to make them less vulnerable? Perhaps having a trained, armed professional stationed in vulnerable locations would help deter future incidents. Think of the air marshal model. It’s impossible to quantify, but the presence of air marshals is reassuring to the public and at the same time, perhaps a deterrent to people who want to target airplanes.
Do I want a trained, armed person at my kids’ schools? Absolutely. Would I pay more for that to happen quickly? Absolutely.
So as the vice president starts his review, I hope that a sincere public debate ensues about the obvious relevance of violent words and images in popular culture that have contributed to the desensitization of an entire generation to cruel violence. And the vice president should offer a recommendation based on the common sense utility of having a trained, armed response at vulnerable locations.