The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President
When I first heard your proposal to train and arm teachers with firearms, I thought, well, it might have a few holes in it. But then I started crunching the numbers - you know, like Mick Mulvaney, your budget director - and discovered where there’s a will there’s a way.
Let’s see…there are 3.5 million teachers in public and private schools in America. You said in a meeting with governors at the White House a couple weeks ago that training and arming 20 percent of the nation’s teachers sounded right, but it could be as high as 40 per cent. I took the lower figure - 20 per cent - for the math here because I thought the other number made you look too stupid.
Anyway, 20 percent of 3.5 million is…700,000. Of course, you have to identify that many volunteers…which might take a while…which is really unfortunate because about ten school shootings happen every month. And while time is money…it’s also lives. But let’s be ridiculously optimistic about your ability to Make America Great Again and say by the start of school this Fall…we have all the volunteer teacher/weekday warriors we need.
So, then we have to test these eager beaver volunteers for, well, psychological stability. After all, we don’t want people with issues - I believe you called them “sickos” - running around willy-nilly with handguns. Since you embrace crazy timelines, let’s say we get all 700,000 volunteer teacher/weekday warriors tested on the same day…maybe a Saturday in September…a kind of “Are You Nuts?” National Test Day.
Of course, all 700,000 would pass…surely not a single unstable, trigger-happy life’s-a-movie-and-I’m-John-Wayne guy or gal would volunteer. So, then we give them all weapons training…and not just how to load a gun and practice shooting at stationery targets…but honest-to-god urban warfare weapons training. What would that take? Again, let’s use your we-can-do-anything-fast attitude. One month? Two? How long has it taken to pass healthcare…oh, that’s right, it hasn’t passed yet?
Now, every one of these highly trained and psychologically fit militia of 700,000 is ready for a weapon. You and your Administration officials said the weapon of choice is a handgun.
I’m guessing you might choose a Smith & Wesson M & P Shield 9mm caliber semi-automatic…the best selling handgun in America. Very popular…used in the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting.
Of course, you could choose the Sig Sauer P938…small and easily concealed, it was one of three guns Adam Lanza used at the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012. Then, there’s the Springfield XD-S semi-automatic…a logical choice because it weighs just 23 ounces. I’m thinking my first-, second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers - all women from 50 to 60 years old and, well, not the most fit, would have liked something lighter in a handgun.
Another cost is that the classrooms of the 700,000 volunteer teacher/weekday warriors have to be outfitted with a gun safe for the weapon and the ammunition. Admittedly, it gets a little more confusing here because only 11 states have laws requiring safes…but I’m guessing you don’t want the children browsing through teachers’ lockers and desks in the other 39 states.
I must admit trouble visualizing any of my elementary, middle school or high school teachers unlocking a safe and loading a weapon with any speed or precision during an active shooter event…except maybe my high school baseball coach…who by the way was a little like John Wayne.
Another sticky issue is risk and insurance. Volunteer teacher/weekday warriors have to be insured against accidentally killing an innocent child or adult during a shooting spree. I’m sure you can form an agency and appoint a friend not being indicted to head it to finance the risk. Sure, expanding Big Government might cost you and the other Republicans some votes in the next election…but what the hell…anything to Make America Great Again, right?
So, let’s get to the all-important math portion. Psychological testing runs about US $2,200 to $2,400 per teacher/weekday warrior…but let’s assume one of those low-bid government contractor volume discounts of US $2,000 each. That’s US $1.4 Billion.
The cost of weapons training for 700,000 teacher/weekday warriors…experts estimate 40 hours at about US $100 per hour…or US $4,000 per teacher/weekday warrior…that’s US $2.8 Billion. Of course this assumes there are qualified trainers in thousands of towns and cities all training to the same standards…which isn’t the case. So there would be travel and living expenses for about half of the teacher/weekday warriors…350,000 x US $1,000 or US $350 Million.
Plus, we have the cost of 700,000 handguns and ammunition…about US $600 Million. Most of them probably won’t jam at that price. Gun safes and installation run another US $140 Million. Stroke of good luck here, Walmart has them and they ship free. Given the high incidence of school shootings, liability insurance for 700,000 teacher/weekday warriors would run about US $700 Million. You will have to endure the time loss and cost of tort reform…they’ll be lots of civil law suits beyond the liability insurance coverages. Luckily, the House and Senate are Republican so it should go as smoothly as all the other legislation.
Now, I noticed that you said these volunteers are entitled to “a little bit of a bonus” and I don’t know what you had in mind. But, let’s say you give them US $1,000 each for the year…that’s a bargain considering the military pays soldiers US $225 a month for combat pay. You might have to oversell it a bit…those volunteer teacher/weekday warriors will likely face shooters with military-style AR-15 semi-automatic weapons or worse…one with a bump stock that turns that semi-automatic into an automatic. I know you said you were going to ban bump stocks by executive order…but you said you were going to build a wall, too…and lock her up, too…and repeal and replace ObamaCare, too. Anyway, a “little bit of a bonus” is another US $700 Million.
So, the total cost is US $6 Billion for the first year…give or take…sort of. Remember, I said there are a few holes. Some of these well-trained teacher/weekday warriors are going to get sick…miss a day or a week of school here and there? You’ll have to train 700,000 backups…and even then send thoughts and prayers for a weak flu season. Testing and training the second line of defence…another US $4 Billion.
But, here’s the great news, Mr. President…you know that wall you wanted to build on the border with Mexico…the Republicans in the House and Senate can simply divert that money…which by the way is exactly the US $10 Billion you need to arm teachers! Now, perhaps you can assign your son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the devil’s-in-the-details logistical job of making it work. Jared won’t need a Top Secret security clearance…whew!
Jared’s probably almost done with your other assignments for him…negotiating a Middle East peace settlement, solving the nationwide opioid crisis, handling diplomacy with Mexico (they’ll be delighted about the ix-nay on the wall), handling diplomacy with the Chinese, reforming care for veterans, reforming the criminal justice system, and reinventing the entire government to make it run more like one of your businesses. Hey, problem solved!
Of course, we could save the entire US $10 Billion on arming teachers if everyone was just more like you…you know, last week when you said live on television: “I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon!” Really…you’d run? Hope those Vietnam Era bone spurs are all better.
To parody one of your Tweets…“Who knew school safety was so easy?”
Just another registered voter
– Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.
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