Lt. Gov. Burt Jones came up with a helluva idea the other day. He wants to turn Georgia teachers into guns for hire.
Mr. Smith, the kindergarten teacher?
Mrs. Sanchez, the media specialist?
Literally, guns for hire.
Under Jones’ proposal, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Sanchez could be paid an extra $10,000 a year to pack heat on school grounds. If you believe, as Jones does, that the only acceptable solution to the carnage of gun violence is more guns, in more places, in more hands, then his idea makes a perverted kind of sense.
But me? I think it’s damn crazy.
Politically, you can see what Jones is up to. He wants to run for governor next year, and as a Republican running in a GOP primary he has to demonstrate to the Gun Cult that he is a fellow true believer, that he too is certain that any problem involving guns must be solved with even more guns.
However, with passage of open-carry legislation and other changes in recent years, including allowing guns on college campuses, Georgia Republicans have pretty much exhausted the supply of gun-safety laws that they can drag out to be publicly executed.
They need to get creative about showing their gun worship, and if that means reaching deep into the abyss of the absurd for new ideas, Jones for one is willing to do that.
A few hours after Jones issued his guns-for-hire proposal, news broke of another mass murder, this one in Maine, with 18 innocent people shot dead by a madman armed with an AR-15. Maine has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, with a high rate of gun ownership, but oddly, once again no “good guy with a gun” rode to the victims’ rescue. Instead, in the aftermath of the shooting, we have been treated to yet another iteration of calls for action by Democrats and calls for thoughts and prayers from Republicans.
Here’s something to think about, though. When other nations pray for less violence and death, God apparently answers them, judging from low murder rates and rare cases of mass shooting in Britain, France, Japan and other developed countries. Why has God has turned a deaf ear to such prayers from Americans? Are we doing something wrong? Has God hardened His heart against us?
Or maybe it’s not God’s heart, but our own that’s at fault?
I ask that because of something said by Mike Johnson, our new speaker of the House up in Washington. The Maine shooting occurred on his first day in that high office, and when asked on Fox News about the tragedy, Johnson offered this line of analysis.
“At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns. It’s not the weapons.”
That’s too bad. If the problem was guns, we could maybe do something about it. But if the problem is the human heart … well, that gets a little trickier.
Again, though, something’s off. People in Great Britain, Japan, Australia and many other countries with low murder rates—they have the same human hearts that we do, right? I’m pretty sure the human heart is standard equipment, regardless of national borders. Yet those countries have nowhere near the murder rate that we do. Is Johnson telling us that American hearts are somehow different, that our hearts are more cruel and bloodthirsty than hearts in other countries?
Is that why God hath forsaken us?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offers yet another explanation, arguing on the presidential campaign trail that we have a high murder rate “because of liberal, soft-on-crime policies.”
Again, though, we have a problem. If putting more people in prison could solve gun violence, we should be the safest country on the planet, because the United States has the highest incarceration rate on the planet. We put people in prison at 200 times the rate of Japan, four times the rate of Australia, five times the rate of France and nine times the rate of Germany. Yet those countries, with their “liberal, soft-on-crime policies,” have much lower gun fatality rates than we do.
So here’s where we find ourselves:
We pray, but those prayers aren’t working. We look for answers in our hearts, and we find none. We imprison and imprison and imprison, but that too isn’t working. We buy more guns, and allow them in more places, but if anything our sense of safety in public spaces has gotten worse not better.
And now we talk about turning teachers into guns for hire. It’s almost as if we know what the real source of the problem is, but those in power are willing to do anything and say anything, even truly silly and absurd things, to avoid acknowledging it.
The Georgia Recorder is an independent, nonprofit news organization focused on connecting public policies to the stories of the people and communities affected by them. They bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues from their perch near Georgia's Capitol in downtown Atlanta. Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: email@example.com.