Rantz: Democratic board member opposes school safety and mental health
When it comes to school shootings, Pierce County Councilman Jani Hitchen only wants to talk about guns.
In a pithy and ill-argued op-ed for the Tacoma News Tribune, Hitchen dismisses basic school safety measures — many of which he is afforded as a board member. She says we shouldn’t focus on common mental issues among school shooters because that could create stigma. And she says the police are never the answer because, well, they don’t like them.
Most of his arguments make no sense. And she spends virtually no time on what she sees as a solution: banning guns.
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Stop focusing on solutions!
Hitchen’s editorial is titled “Guns are the Problem. Until the United States enacts real reforms, school shootings will persist.
But she doesn’t spend much time explaining why the guns are the problem. In fact, she completely ignores how they are the problem by simply stating that they are.
Instead, most of his article explains what is not the solution because its end goal is gun control.
But his stance on some non-controversial, easy-to-implement solutions or mitigation strategies is alarming. She seems willing to let children be vulnerable as part of her larger goal of banning guns.
A locked door turns schools into prisons, or something like that
Most businesses and government offices have limited entry points. Often there is only one. But if you do that in a school, Hitchen thinks they become prisons. His position is as bizarre as it is laughable, especially since the building that houses Pierce County Council has an entry point for the general public.
Hitchen says creating ‘an entry point’ would turn ‘public schools into prisons’ [and] will not solve the problem.
Although she does not explain how an entry point turns a school into a prison, she relies on her experience as a teacher. Her old school had two entrances that were locked during the school day.
“More than 800 students entered and exited the same doors at the same time with each passing period. Schools are designed to move people through spaces quickly and safely. Getting everyone through one door means wasted instructional time, increased congestion, increased frustration and anxiety,” she writes.
Hitchen makes no sense
What the hell is she talking about? What school only has two doors so that students can pass from one class to another? during the school day?
Most school buildings on this planet already have limited entry points. And inside, with these larger spaces called “corridors,” students can move to and from rooms called “classrooms” that have one or two doors that can accommodate a dozen students who walk in and out at any time.
There is no wasted teaching time at the start of the day when you have limited entry points. Students are fully capable of entering and exiting a doorway. Or is Hitchen advocating for classrooms without walls? Didn’t Hitchen’s school have hallways?
An entry point doesn’t always mean a small door either. It is an entry point — there may be several doors at the front of the school. And it seems odd that Hitchen is likely willing to lock her house door to protect herself from entering strangers, but won’t offer this basic, uncontroversial tool to vulnerable students and staff.
Channeling your inner ‘ACAB’
Just say no to school resource officers (SROs), argues Hitchen, after complaining that schools shouldn’t have locked doors and a single point of entry. Although the county building has armed protection, your children don’t deserve it.
“There is very little evidence that shows armed police in schools reduce shooting. It could be a deterrent. This may be the reason why an elementary school is chosen rather than a secondary school. But the reality is that a cop with a pistol is going to be challenged to handle someone with multiple semi-automatic weapons with extended magazines,” she wrote.
This is another argument totally disconnected from reality.
The data is limited because there haven’t really been many studies, although what we have is mixed. But given that there are over 20,000 SROs and, despite what Democrats and the media claim, very few mass school shootings, one could argue that the benefits of officers are understated.
Hitchen’s only argument is that one pistol against multiple semi-automatic weapons is not effective. But they are currently using their handguns to arrest criminals armed with semi-automatic weapons outside of school. All she is arguing is that we either need more than one SRO on campus or a better armed SRO.
Don’t focus on sanity
If mental health issues played a role in a shooting, you are expected to delete that information.
Hitchen says she’s fine with more money for mental health services (how generous of her). She argues that “blaming mass shootings for mental health is stigmatizing and ignores the fact that people with mental health issues are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.”
I’m not sure anyone blames the mass shootings uniquely on mental health, but that does not stigmatize anyone.
People with untreated mental illness can be prone to violence. There is a bizarre movement to whitewash the reality of certain mental illnesses on the grounds that it might stigmatize someone. Frankly, I don’t care if it stigmatizes anyone. If it brings more focus, funding and action to get people the help they need so they don’t turn to violence against anyone or themselves, that’s a victoire.
And, no, pointing this out doesn’t ignore people struggling with mental illness. It does the opposite: it sheds much-needed light on a serious issue that people like Hitchen pretend to want to address, but won’t because it might stigmatize.
Already ban firearms
Hitchen offers the bare minimum of arguments against one of the uncontroversial and effective tools to stop school shootings because it has only one goal: gun confiscation. Why waste time researching strategies she doesn’t seem to understand when your end goal is the erosion of our right to bear arms?
She first brags about the anti-gun legislation Washington state lawmakers have passed. To my knowledge, nothing she mentions (red flag laws, background checks on private gun sales) has stopped school shootings here. School shooters in Washington and everywhere else do not obey gun laws. They smash them and then hope that Democratic judges and prosecutors, inspired by Democratic light-on-crime policies, will put them into restorative justice programs instead of jailing them.
Hitchen argues that “we should continue to lead the way by banning assault weapons, requiring a license to have a gun like we do for cars, and more.”
That’s his whole argument.
How was this published, exactly?
Hitchen does not define “assault weapons” because every weapon is an “assault weapon”. It’s a meaningless term and considerably lazier than the standard “military-style weapon” line that proponents use.
It does not explain what type of license should be required to own a firearm. If this is just a ploy to impose more onerous restrictions on gun rights, fortunately we now have a United States Supreme Court that values the explicit rights guaranteed to us by our constitution.
And what is the “and more” to which it refers? She doesn’t even know. I would have asked him on my radio show, but his office turned down an interview request – a sign of someone who really knows his stuff!
If you wonder how such a poorly written editorial got published, just look at the newspaper it is in and the mediocre columnist who edits the section. Yes, it now makes sense. The Tacoma News Tribune is Pierce County Public Relations Firm for the Democratic Partyand it constantly reminds us why local news is dying.
If you’re serious about stopping school shootings — or any kind of violence — we’d be wise to ignore clueless, unhelpful ideologues like Hitchen. She’s more anti-gun than pro-school safety.
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