Regarding the prevention of school massacres, there are two attractions — and only two, so far as I can see — to “gun control,” whatever that might actually entail. 1) It’s “doing something” (or more accurately, appearing to do something); and 2) it’s cheap. Among its more serious drawbacks are that it is impossible to achieve and, even if achieved, would do nothing to stop school massacres or other gun violence.
A more productive way to think about preventing school massacres is to ask how much we’re willing to pay for it. Here’s a modest proposal of something that could be done and that might actually work, or at least help: assign two armed guards to every public K-12 school in the country.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009-2010 there were 98,817 public K-12 schools in the U.S. Let’s round that up to 100,000 and assume (I’m picking this number out of a hat; other hats may yield different numbers) $50,000 a year for one armed guard, which includes salary, benefits, and training, or, obviously, (even my math is up to this) $100,000 for two. More simple arithmetic reveals that providing two armed guards to every public K-12 school in the country would cost $10 billion per year. (Private schools can defend themselves.) Two, because a violent attacker could kill one but would find it much more difficult to kill two, assuming they were trained to patrol different areas, etc.
If we’re really serious about preventing school massacres, $10 billion a year doesn’t sound like that much in a society that is already running a deficit of $1.6 trillion every year, and trending higher. Such a program, moreover, would reduce unemployment about as much (or more) than anything else the administration has proposed.