Newt Gingrich came up with one of the worst school shooting plans yet

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is an official Fox News contributor, which means part of his job is to appear on network programs and talk about stuff. In the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas this week, that meant going to Fox News to talk about this tragedy and offer some words. Words didn’t matter, really; he could have said just about anything. He could have lay low and dusted his hands.

Instead, during an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s show Wednesday night, Gingrich went the other way, offering some thoughts that stood out in a crowded field for their puzzling implications.

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Here is Gingrich’s plan.

“Every school in the country should have five or 10 people paid $500 a month or more – that would be a rational federal program to pay every teacher who is willing to be trained and armed to protect children – teachers and administrators” , did he declare. mentioned. “But we don’t have that kind of conversation. We are all stuck in high political nonsense” – nonsense directed, he added, by President Biden.

The beauty of this idea, of course, is that it kind of makes sense in the abstract. Yes, why not outsource the protection of schools to people who are already there? Mean critics might note that this is a form of defunding the police, but we can put that aside. Pay teachers to carry guns and stop school shootings. Done and done.

This is where you land if you think about it for 2.3 seconds or less. Get to the 2.4 second mark and suddenly you realize: Wait. It’s stupid.

One of the reasons it’s stupid is that it’s outrageously expensive.

If you just say the number out loud — $500 a month — that doesn’t sound like a lot. About $6,000 a year in additional compensation for those teachers or administrators to arm and train. But then you remember we’re talking about at least five such teachers per school, bringing the total to $30,000. Always not that a lot.

However, there are just under 131,000 schools in the United States. (These are public schools; there are tens of thousands of other private schools, but we’ll focus only on public schools.) What happens when you multiply 131,000 by $30,000? You end up just south of $4 billion in new charges.

It is just compensation and just a year. They must be armed too, remember. If they use handguns like the Glock G17, that’s a one-time cost of $599 per participant. That’s about $389 million. And then there is training. A training program costs $16,500 for 50 people, or an additional $214 million.

Now the total cost is around $4.5 billion. And at least $3.9 billion of that — the compensation — is annual. If the trainings are also annual, the annual cost rises to 4.1 billion dollars.

And it’s at the lower end of Gingrich’s proposition. Remember, he said “five or 10 people” and “$500 a month or more.” If we assume it’s 10 people and $750 per month, the cost for the first year becomes $12.9 billionincluding firearms, a set of training and compensation.

For contrast, consider how much it would cost if the country wanted to buy back all the AR-15 style rifles that are in circulation. There are probably around 20 million of these in the US right now, selling new for around $700. Buying them back at $700 each would cost $14 billion.

Even at Gingrich’s lower five-person, $500 rate, the cost of buying back each AR-15-style rifle would be cheaper than paying and training armed teachers for four years.

Or of course, another reason why his plan is stupid is that he requires remarkable skill.

Teachers would be expected to react quickly if fired upon, drawing their firearms – which they would presumably have on their hips – and engaging a shooter who recent experience shows is likely to be armed with a semi-automatic rifle. You will recall that an armed security guard in Buffalo tried to shoot the mass shooter at a grocery store in that city earlier this month, only to be shot dead. But those teachers, suddenly switching from teaching to SWAT team duty, are expected to fare better.

There are just countless questions here. Are teachers supposed to meet and form a traveling vigilante team? Do they just go out into the lobby and try to engage the shooter without hitting anyone else? Are they waiting for the shooter to try to enter their classroom? How would that work? I assume that would be covered by the $214 million spent on training, but it seems pretty obvious that directing armed defense at teachers, principals, and canteen staff might be suboptimal.

The main reason Gingrich’s idea is stupid is that it doesn’t stop school shootings.

His plan is reactive: a shooter enters the building and the teachers respond. We can again take the example of the mass shooting in Dayton in 2019: the police (not the teachers) shot the shooter in about half a minute, in which nine people were shot. How many could die by the time teachers could respond?

Just consider what happened at Uvalde, the incident to which Gingrich offers an answer. The shooter enters the school – assuming in our Gingrichian scenario that a teacher or office secretary fails to bring him down immediately – and enters a classroom where he locks the door. Now what? Do the five armed teachers walk past the (inexplicably inactive) police and force their way in?

This article is itself a disservice, admittedly, since it treats Gingrich’s proposal as serious. His proposal was not serious. Rather, it was something to say that suited the needs of his position as a Fox News contributor: to prioritize toughness over rationality and focus first on finding solutions that don’t involve limiting arms.

In this regard, his appearance was a success.


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