Filling the gun mayhem vacuum

FLINT – They say that nature abhors a vacuum. Where one exists, there’s always something there to fill it.

And so it is with gun slaughters.

In the absence of any meaningful state or federal response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults, silliness has moved in.

In Michigan, it has taken the form of the “Michigan School Protection Act,” which is Rep. Greg MacMaster’s groan-worthy bill to allow school boards to decide whether teachers can pack heat at school.

MacMaster is a Republican, but I’m guessing you figured that.

While others have cast around for the right legislative response to the rising tide of gun slaughters, Republicans on all levels have played goalkeeper by attempting to block most changes.

In doing so they hide behind the Second Amendment’s skirts, claiming they’re being patriotic. But it’s painfully obvious, even to them, that what they’re really doing is protecting their masters in the NRA, which itself is a front for gun manufacturers.

That’s bad for appearances. So to look “concerned,” they create nonsense bills like MacMaster’s, which wastes everyone’s time. We know it and they know it.

You can see as much in MacMaster’s shrugging description of his own bill, which he says is better than “waiting for the next school shooting,” which is probably true.

It’s also better than having an anvil dropped on your head or your left big toe chewed off by hissing cockroaches.

But that doesn’t make it a good or effective idea.

Let’s begin with the arming teachers part. Think back to your high school. Can you imagine most of your teachers wanting to carry a pistol, not to mention the responsibility of protecting the entire school?

Probably not.

Now, think about which one of your teachers would have positively relished the idea of wearing a shoulder holster day in and day out. If your high school was anything like mine, you’re probably thinking of the one teacher the other teachers avoided – the one who talked too loud, turned class lectures into political diatribes and liked to tell everyone how life was better back in the ’50s.

Yeah, that guy. That’s the guy who’s going to willingly arm himself and charge to the rescue the next time someone armed like Rambo and wearing body armor enters the school bent on playing “imitate the Columbine shooters.”

It could happen, I suppose. But it’s not likely.

More likely is the scenario painted by William Mayes, the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators, who as a former principal broke up many a hallway fight.

“To put a gun in the mix,” he has said, “(is) just isn’t a good, smart response.”

So what would be a good, smart response? Well, the obvious answer is President Obama’s proposal to require background checks for all gun sales and ban many assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines.

I would add – and I’m clearly in the minority on this – putting an armed, trained police officer in every school in the country, as we do now for some urban high schools.

But we’re obviously too cheap to pay for that since the idea has gotten no traction whatsoever. And we’ve let the NRA and their staff of congressmen and women kill any momentum for the president’s proposal. At this point, if we salvage background checks we’ll be lucky.

So on the subject of a mature response to gun mayhem, it would appear we have ourselves a vacuum, which, as we’ve noted, nature abhors.

No matter. For every vacuum there are Greg MacMasters to fill it.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.