After the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, Americans pose the question to lawmakers and themselves: how to address violence in schools?
Dave Ross, KIRO Newsradio anchor, recently wrote an op-ed criticizing one of the potential answers: the argument that simply improving school security is enough to prevent subsequent shootings.
Jason Rantz, KTTH host, sees added security as a common-sense solution to the problem, one which could serve as common ground for a larger, national conversation about gun violence in schools before lawmakers begin potentially infringing on constitutional privileges.
The two squared off in a debate, an edited version of which can be found below.
Ross: Maybe it’s a bad idea for it to be so easy for an 18-year-old to get a gun.
We have to work with statistics. Broadly, big picture, if you want to save the country, you’ve got to do something. The only thing we have left to work with here are the statistics that indicate that most of these shooters are young men between 18 and 21. We need to raise the age limit for purchasing guns in this country, or at least require more robust training for purchase.
Rantz: That part, I don’t necessarily understand. Why can 18-year-olds fight in a war but not be able to then get a gun?
Ross: That’s ridiculous.
Rantz: Why is it ridiculous?
Ross: Because they have training. When an 18-year-old signs up for the army, their recruiter doesn’t hand them a gun and say, ‘Okay, go and defend the country.’
Rantz: If the Uvalde shooter took a car and mowed kids down in a park, we obviously wouldn’t make it harder for an 18-year-old to get a license.
Ross: I reject the whole argument that cars and guns are equivalent. Cars have a use besides killing people.
Rantz: So a gun doesn’t have a use besides killing people? You understand that there’s sport involved as well.
Ross: The reason why we make guns easy to buy is so that people can do target shooting?
Rantz: The reason why we make guns easy to buy is that, number one, there’s a constitutional amendment.
Ross: Right. The reason for that is we have to have guns in case our government goes rogue so we can shoot members of the US Army.
Rantz: That’s obviously not the case.
Ross: So what is the second amendment for?
Rantz: I certainly concede that the intent is about personal protection. And that’s how the Supreme Court has decided this.
Ross: The Second Amendment is about the militia. That’s how it began.
Rantz: The second amendment was based upon a pre-founding position of the right to gun ownership for personal protection.
Ross: Nobody believes that. The people who wrote the constitution were fighters. They were fighters.
They were also worried about a government gone rogue. What that means in the current context, and a lot of people believe this, is the reason you have a gun like that is in case the US government goes rogue, and tries to take your stuff. That means somebody is shooting at the US Army.
Rantz: It also means that if we were ever to actually get invaded, although I find that to be very hard to believe, it’s certainly possible. And I’m assuming that Ukrainians didn’t think that Russians would invade them.
The point is, why not just say you want to ban guns?
Ross: The whole idea is: who can be trusted? Don’t give trust to murderers. Give it to people who are trained, people who don’t have an anger management problem, people who are old enough.
Rantz: Because of privacy laws having to do with mental health, you can’t really get at that. So we have to address that part first.
Ross: If you say there’s no way to predict whether people have an anger management problem, you yourself are going to have to enter a position where we have to ban guns.
Rantz: I don’t hold the position that we should be banning guns. I do hold the position that if we can do anything within the law that prevents people who should not have a gun based on a mental health issue, we should do so.
Ross: There should be an age limit, right? What should it be?
Rantz: 18. That’s when society has deemed that these kids are no longer kids, that they’re now adults.
Ross: At what age should you be entrusted with a weapon that can mow down a classroom full of kids?
Rantz: Any weapon can mow down a classroom full of kids
Ross: At what age should you be trusted with any weapon?
Rantz:18. Beyond that, the Constitution doesn’t allow for a ban.
Ross: There are problems with the Constitution that need to be amended.
Rantz: So change it.
I’m not opposed to having conversations and debates about these things. What I hear from a lot of folks on the left is that we have to have reasonable gun laws, but they don’t tell us what they are. Put something on the table. Democrats right now have control of the Senate, the House, and the White House.
Why not put something on paper? Introduce it, and then have Republicans vote no as they did with the abortion bill two weeks ago?
It could start a national conversation around a specific idea. I’m totally okay with that. Even if it fails. And by the way, depending on what the idea is, maybe I’ll support it. It’s not like I’m a gun absolutist. I don’t hold that position on pretty much anything. But I do want to actually have a debate.
Ross: Maybe if we can agree on what to do, we can agree on who should decide what to do. And since we now have quite a few families who’ve been through this, why don’t we collect the families who have actually lost somebody in a school shooting, at Sandy Hook at Stoneman Douglas, bring them together, and have them come up with something that they think would work, regardless of what the laws say, regardless of what the US Constitution says, something they think would work, and see if you can get acceptance for that.
Rantz: My point is, isn’t that a starting point? Why isn’t anyone talking about it on the left?
Ross: I’m saying it. I’ve said we should have airport rules everywhere. Heck, I’d turn entire cities into airport zones. Just have the TSA frisk us all.
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.