The GOP’s plan A was to sit tight until the dead of Parkland got buried by the ever-turning news cycle. But the theater kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas refused to take thoughts and prayers for an answer. And so, Republicans moved on to plan B: Find a way to “do something” on gun violence that didn’t just leave AR-15 manufacturers and far-right firearms enthusiasts unscathed, but that actually benefited those constituencies.
To that end, President Trump called last week for arming America’s teachers – which is to say, for the government to either give gunmakers a lucrative public contract, or else subsidize mass gun-buying by promising bonuses to educators that pack heat.
Alas, liberals, teachers — and every American who can distinguish between reality and Clint Eastwood films — deemed this proposal insane. You don’t stop school shootings by increasing the number of guns in American classrooms — even armed school security guards have been known to leave their firearms unattended, while some teachers have been known to physically attack their students. Lifelong cops and soldiers can freeze or shoot erratically when confronted with life-threatening violence; a teacher who did a couple weeks of training to get a bonus would be unlikely to win a shootout with a heavily armed psychopath — and could very well make any given mass shooting more lethal in the process.
Fortunately, House conservatives took these critiques to heart. And on Monday night, Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows floated a compromise:
This proposal gives something to both sides: It leaves teachers unarmed, just as liberals requested, while also giving a targeted tax cut to any patriotic American with a gun, too much free time, and a longing to legally pump bullets into another human being — or, in conservative parlance, to “a well-regulated militia.”
Democrats could try to obstruct this measure. But they would do so at their own political peril. After all, what suburban swing voter wouldn’t want heavily armed, underemployed vigilantes prowling the hallways and playgrounds of her daughter’s school? Granted, liberals could argue that the tax credit is inherently regressive, as prospective vigilantes who don’t earn enough to pay federal income tax (but who still pay sales and payroll taxes) would be ineligible. But that issue could be resolved by simply making a portion of the tax credit refundable!
Meadows has presented progressives with a clear choice: They can be ideological purists, and insist on far-left reforms like, say, making it illegal for teenagers to buy military-grade weapons without a background check — or, they can put the lives of America’s children above their ideology’s bizarre superstitions, and embrace a common-sense, evidence-based solution to gun violence, like surrounding every school in the country with a ring of “good guys with guns.”