Commentary

Debunking the mad idea of arming teachers

Not that any sane person can’t figure this out intuitively, but in case you wanted a little more information on the subject, here are a couple of essays to check out this morning regarding the Prevaricator-in-Chief’s loony tunes idea of arming school teachers.

In “Arming teachers to stop school shootings is a dangerous myth,” Luke Barnes at Think Progress provides a helpful summary of some actual research on the subject that is instructive. Here’s an excerpt:

“But research shows both Trump and the NRA are wrong. Armed personnel within schools would have very little chance of stopping a school shooter. What’s more, it’s been consistently proven that more guns in schools increases the risk of a deadly accident.

‘There are some myths behind the armed teacher idea in the U.S. The first is that good guys with guns can easily stop mass shootings and there have been numerous studies to show that’s not true,’ said Eugenio Weigend, associate director for gun violence prevention at the Center for American Progress….’The FBI conducted a study of 163 instances of mass shootings and found that only one was stopped by an armed individual versus 21 that were stopped by unarmed people.’

…Then there’s the issue of the extensive training school personnel would require in order to have any chance of neutralizing a school shooter. As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out Wednesday night, the type of training teachers or other school personnel would require to prepare for school shootings is incredibly difficult and similar to that undertaken by police SWAT teams — clearing buildings packed with students, making split-second decisions to avoid accidentally shooting either an innocent victim or another armed responder.”

With schools like Marjory Stoneman Douglas, which had more than 3,000 students, the idea of one or even a half-dozen armed personnel being able to quickly find and neutralize an active shooter in the ensuing chaos seems ludicrous. That’s if they even decide to enter in the first place. According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ armed school resource officer did not go inside the school to confront the killer when the shooting happened. He has since resigned.”

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has an interesting essay entitled “Gun Rights, ‘Positive Good’ and the Evolution of Mutually Assured Massacre,” in which he thoroughly explains and debunks the “positive good” theory behind this terrible idea. After explaining the NRA’s basic argument — that having more guns everywhere makes everyone safer — and explaining its origins in the writings an off-kilter economist named John Lott, Marshall says this:

“In the abstract, where no humans actually exist, there’s actually a compelling logic to this. If I know you’re armed, I’ll be on my best behavior. You will too because you know I’m armed. Of course, in practice, almost everything is wrong with this logic. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Washington signaling toward harsh work requirements for hungry NCians

Earlier today, the USDA signaled toward potential changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally known as food stamps), that would impose even more strict work requirements for non-disabled adults without children.

Demanding harsh work requirements of those in dire need is not a new idea. During “Welfare Reform” in 1996, Congress created work requirements for mothers receiving cash assistance. But rather than helping families to find work, these requirements simply punished people who were already struggling.

Today, there are 87 counties in North Carolina where there are more jobless workers than there are job opportunities. Click To TweetPolicy makers have done little to promote job growth, especially in rural North Carolina communities, and they have failed to raise the wages of workers who earn poverty-level wages. As of 2015, 1 out of every 3 workers in NC earns too little to keep a family of four above the poverty line, even when working full-time. The reality is that far too many North Carolinians still have not recovered from the recession.

Earlier this month, the President proposed cutting SNAP by $213 billion over the next 10 years, as well as replacing a portion of SNAP benefits with a government-issued food box.

These proposed changes are not intended to help those who are struggling to place food on the table. Instead, they harm people who just need a helping hand.

Brian Kennedy II is a Public Policy Fellow with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.

News

NC Congressman: Arming teachers ‘a terrible idea’, time to focus on gun violence research

Congressman David Price (NC-4) and a handful of his congressional colleagues are pressing Speaker Paul Ryan to allow debate and a vote on legislation to provide adequate funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research about gun violence.

Price, who is a Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, tells NC Policy Watch it’s long past due for Congress to repeal the Dickey Amendment that has blocked meaningful research into the nation’s gun epidemic.

Congressman Price sat down this week to chat with NC Policy Watch Director Rob Schofield about the need for federally-funded research. He also dismissed calls at the state and national level to consider arming teachers to make schools safer.

Click below to hear an excerpt from our weekend interview with the Congressman:

On Thursday, President Donald Trump sought to clarify his remarks about arming school teachers in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting.

The president tweeted he would look at the possibility of concealed guns only for ‘gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best.’

Commentary, News

Public hearing re: offshore drilling on the NC coast scheduled for next Monday in Raleigh

In case you missed it — and it wouldn’t be surprising if you did — the Trump administration has scheduled a single public hearing in North Carolina on its plan to open up the state’s coastline to seismic testing and, ultimately, oil and gas drilling. The event will take place next Monday, February 26 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Raleigh at the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel.

The following is excerpted from an editorial that ran earlier this week in the Wilmington Star News: entitled “Large turnout needed at offshore-drilling hearing in Raleigh”:

“The federal government’s only public hearing in North Carolina on plans to open our waters to oil and gas drilling and seismic testing is this Monday at a hotel in Raleigh – 130 miles or so from the nearest threatened beach.

That’s not too surprising. The Trump boat is tilted so far in favor of oil, coal and other fossil fuels, it’s a wonder it hasn’t capsized. (We guess we should count ourselves lucky the hearing is not being held in Asheville.)

President Trump has filled his offices with old oil-and-gas hands: Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon/Mobil; Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who tried his best to block President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, and now runs the EPA; and Ryan Zinke, a former board member for an oil pipeline company who’s now the Interior secretary.

We’ve seen how Mr. Trump has all but moved to outlaw solar energy, slapping a 30 percent tariff on solar power parts and slashing funds for solar energy research. Clearly these folks don’t want a bunch of tree-huggers and snowflakes standing in the way of Smoky Progress.

They’re joined, of course, by 7th District Rep. David Rouzer, who’s said again and again that he thinks offshore oil wells would be the best thing in North Carolina since Krispy Kreme. (Rouzer, the distinguished representative of the state’s biggest coastal region, lives near Raleigh, so we don’t expect him to know about Britt’s doughnuts.)….

We want to repeat our position: We are realistic about our need for oil and natural gas, and, therefore, are not opposed in principle to offshore drilling. We also are realistic about drilling’s potential threat to our vital tourism and fisheries industries. At a time when oil is relatively cheap and plentiful (compared to the $5 a gallon gasoline of the Bush years) and the United States is becoming a net oil exporter, we believe possible benefits of drilling are currently outweighed by inherent risks. We believe there are many residents in our area who share those views. We wish our representative in Washington did, too….

(You also can submit comments online through March 9 at tinyurl.com/yawoltb8).

And then we should consider this: If we can’t get public officials who’ll stand up for our sounds and beaches and our unique coastal economy, maybe it’s time we get some new ones. You can make your voice heard on that issue, too, in November.”

Courts & the Law, News

Does the constitution require lawmakers to provide public notice of special sessions?

From left: Judges Martin McGee, Wayland Sermons Jr. and Todd Pomeroy

What does the constitutional right to instruct mean? Did lawmakers violate it when they called a special session in 2016 with just two hours’ notice?

Those are some of the questions a three-judge panel is considering in the case of Common Cause v. Forest, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the session in which two laws were passed that changed the power structure of state government.

“What the defendants did was undemocratic, unprecedented and unconstitutional,” said Burton Craige, an attorney representing the plaintiffs — Common Cause NC and 10 state residents.

He told the judges that the 2016 fourth extra special session was the only one in 75 years that did not provide advance notice to the public that a special session would be convened and notice of the purpose of the special session.

In addition to the lack of notice, lawmakers passed a number of special rules that Craige said truncated the legislative process and deprived members of the public a meaningful opportunity to participate.

“Even citizens well-versed in the legislative process did not have a practical opportunity to communicate with their legislators,” Craige said.

He pointed to an affidavit submitted by Common Cause NC Executive Director Bob Phillips that said the organization did not have enough time to review bills, offer inside analysis or suggestions to make the legislation better.

Burton Craige

“This was legislation by ambush; this was a premeditated assault on democracy,” Craige said.

His solution is for the court to apply a constitutional test that applies to the circumstances of the case — the legislature should be required to either provide advance notice to the public of a special session and its purpose or provide some justification for its departure from historical precedent.

He accused the defendants, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, of providing no justification for the 2016 special session.

“There was no reason other than to exclude the public from participating,” Craige said. “We have to look at the circumstances, and here the circumstances we have are zero notice, extraordinarily complex legislation, deliberate secrecy and no explanation for why.”

Matthew Tulchin, of the State Department of Justice, argued that lawmakers did in fact give notice and that Craige was using rhetoric to make a policy argument.

“Underneath it all though, what this is about, is the plaintiffs don’t like the two laws enacted,” he said.

He added that lawmakers have a right to determine what processes and procedures they follow, and that there is no expressed time or notice requirement in the constitution. He also said that the public had 44 hours to review the bills introduced during the 2016 special session.

Matthew Tulchin

“It’s erroneous to say that there wasn’t any notice,” Tulchin said. “Hundreds of people showed up at the General Assembly … and expressed their viewpoints in loud enough terms to disrupt their session.”

The three-judge panel had numerous questions for both Tulchin and Craige, but one they seemed to come back to was what the right to instruct meant in Article 1, Section 12 of the North Carolina Constitution.

The three judges presiding over the case are are Judge Wayland Sermons, a registered Democrat who serves the second judicial district, which includes Beaufort County; Judge Martin McGee, a registered Republican who serves Cabarrus County; and Judge W. Todd Pomeroy, a registered Republican who serves Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

Tulchin compared the right to instruct with dead letter law — a law that is still in effect but cannot be enforced because of a change in circumstances.

“It is a function of the times of when it was enacted,” he said, noting that technology now is a lot different than when the provision was enacted.

He also said the provision was a process of a representative government, which the state has, and voters could exercise their rights at the ballot box.

Craige argued that the provision is meant to give voters a meaningful opportunity to participate in the legislative process.

“Those words have meaning,” he said. “They would eliminate these words from the constitution, pretend they don’t exist, and of course, they can’t do that. This court can’t do that.”