Call it what it is: the NRA Tax.
This is Great Neck’s hysterical reaction to the threat of gun violence after a misconstrued Facebook post triggered a rumor mill, magnified by social media set off a panic.
Some 30 percent of students stayed home from school, despite the notices sent around after the Nassau County Police Department thoroughly investigated and found absolutely no basis to a threat (unlike a more credible threat in two other school districts).
North High School’s auditorium was standing room only for the March 5 School Board meeting, scheduled to be the first budget hearing.
The board, joined by senior administrators and two Nassau County police officers, spent 3 1/2 hours answering questions and hearing comments from concerned parents (none of whom, stayed for the actual budget hearing which started around midnight).
America’s gun violence epidemic is properly called “domestic terrorism.” It is really frightening to hear from parents who had previously lived in Israel, even served in the military and fought in Israel’s wars, expressing their terror.
The perceived threat that was perceived has resulted in a new threat put to the school board: either you spend millions of dollars more on security (despite the fact they had not been aware before of the level of security measures already in place), or we will work to defeat your budget. (The district’s safety plan can be reviewed online but building safety plans are confidential.)
They didn’t seem to care that the district is already spending more than $2 million on security – I call it the NRA Tax.
One man actually pooh-poohed the 600 surveillance cameras, the automatic door locks, the database system that checks ID.
He wants two armed police officers on duty at every one of the district’s 18 buildings, 24/7. Another woman suggested building safe rooms in every classroom. “It would only cost $1000 per student.”
Another man who said he had purchased a Kevlar shield to insert into his child’s backpack, wants the district to supply the 6,000 students, at a cost of $300 each (but you could probably get a bulk discount!).
I estimate just the cost of added police security at about $5 million a year.
That amount would overwhelm this year’s increase of $4.9 million to $223.3 million. That 2.1 percent increase falls below the 2.85 percent that would be allowed under the cap; if the district increased spending to the amount allowed, they could squeeze out $1 million more for security.
But to what purpose?
There was an armed sheriff’s deputy on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a 19-year old former student with an assault rifle massacred 17 students and teachers and injured 17 more. Two more deputies were outside.
And it is dubious what they could have done – it took mere minutes for the shooter, armed with a military-grade AR 15 and high-capacity ammo clips, to get off dozens of rounds, then slip out among the fleeing students.
And that meme used by Trump that a shooter would be intimidated by an armed guard also fails to take into account that most shooters expect to be shot dead. It’s in their plan.
(Read this chilling account in the Washington Post, “Inside an accused school shooter’s mind: A plot to kill ‘50 or 60. If I get lucky maybe 150’”, goo.gl/8VoJFL)
Even the former Israeli soldier, who fought in the Yom Kippur War, said, “Guns are not the answer.”
One of the fathers most adamant in pressing to spend unlimited dollars – millions – on armed guards, said that his child stayed home from school out of fear and that lost day might result in failing to get into the college of her choice. “It will be your fault.” J’accuse.
But what if the cost of having armed guards means losing science research, Model UN and Mock Trial, losing art, music, theater, team sports?
After all, despite these parents’ dubious assurances that the community will happily accept higher school taxes, the district has had to work within the state’s ridiculous tax cap.
What if armed guards come at a cost of small-class size, probably the most important factor in how successful our district is and the best defense against a child with psychological problems falling through the cracks?
What will he say then, when his child’s resume can’t compete with other kids for that Ivy League spot? Whose fault will that be?
But thank heavens, New York is not Florida, Kentucky, Colorado, Nevada. Thank heavens, we have the strictest gun control laws and don’t have the warped view of “freedom” as the right of a would-be mass murderer to wield a weapon of war.
Gov. Cuomo, who succeeded in passing the SAFE Act shortly after Sandy Hook school massacre, is working to address other threats, forming a regional coalition of states.
The woman who vaguely said that parents need to get active and get elected representatives to do something should be more precise.
That energy needs to be directed at the Do-Nothing Accomplices in Congress: restore the assault weapons ban; ban high-capacity ammo clips and bump stocks; enforce universal background checks; bar purchases to mentally ill and domestic abusers.
Require smart-gun technology so only the registered, licensed, presumably trained and responsible gun owner can fire it.
Bring your passion for protecting your children to the halls of Congress and the White House. And let the schools be a place for knowledge and understanding, personal growth and achievement.
Join the March For Our Lives, March 24.
I’m headed to Washington D.C., but there will be local marches as well (some 725 scheduled), including at Firefighters Park, Great Neck Plaza (3 p.m.); Port Washington (6:30); SUNY Old Westbury (4:15 p.m.); Glen Cove (11 a.m.); 5 Towns, Cedarhurst (2:30 p.m.); Long Beach 2 p.m.); Farmingdale (11 a.m.); as well as a major march in Central Park, NYC (10 a/m.). See marchforourlives.com.