In a much derided speech by its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association called for an armed guard in every U.S. school. The NRA placed the blame not on loose gun laws but on violent video games and films. This was in response to the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, and the worst where children were victims. [Read more about the speech here.]
At Noir Nation, we love guns, garrotes, poisons, spears, daggers, and all of the real life tools of death and despair that can be used copiously, creatively, and legally in noir fiction, especially if they open up the dark recesses of human experience that allows us to better understand our darkest impulses. Through an increase in knowledge and understanding we can improve human behavior. And through the empathy that sometimes arises from that increase, we can improve the universal human condition. More immediately, if indeed Aristotle’s notion of catharsis is correct, we might even prevent actual harm in the world by offering a vicarious way by which those feeling of anger, alienation, and violent urges may dispel those negative energies safely through the agency of make-believe.
The NRA’s position, if adopted, would provide fewer opportunities for anyone who wants to work out their feelings by shooting imaginary guns at imaginary people — without limiting in any way access to the very real guns that ended the lives of 28 very real people at Sandy Hook.
Reasonable people may disagree about the wisdom of the NRA’s position, as they can about the increase in mass gun violence in recent years. Those arguments are for another day. Today, we focus on the NRA’s numbers.
How much would it cost for an armed guard in every U.S. public school?
Noir Nation did some back of the envelope calculations to figure the costs of the NRA’s call for armed guards at every K-12 school in the US. The number of schools come from the National Center for Education Statistics. The compensation costs of an armed guard (national average) come from Indeed.com.
There are about 99,000 public schools in the US. The average salary of an armed guard is about $49,000; add an additional $10,000 in compensation for benefits and fringe benefits, such as vacation pay, pension plan, and medical insurance, and the total is $59,000.
Total cost: $5.08 billion.
That’s about 4.5 times the annual budget of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the federal agency tasked with reducing illegal gun sales in the nation.
Apparently, even trained professionals have difficulty with something as simple as holstering a gun. In the following video, a law enforcement officer, explaining the danger of firearms to a room full of kids, shoots himself in the foot. It is not enough to have a gun during a crises situation, one must also have extensive and continuing training to react with speed and accuracy to someone who bursts into a room shooting at people.