Monday, August 26, 2013
Gun Show at Pueblo Complex: Irrelevant Battle of Style Rather than Substance
Nancy Schick's editorial in Sunday's Los Alamos Daily Post boils down to one issue. She does not like guns, sees them only in the context of school shootings, and does not want the school district to be in any way associated with guns or a gun show. She is certainly entitled to her opinion, but her opinion should not be the basis of Schools policy.
First of all, I take issue with the tone of her essay. The Los Alamos Sportsman's Club (of which I am a member, but speaking for myself here) bears little resemblance to "...a white-supremacist hate group or to the Socialists Workers’ Party...". Why this comparison or its slippery slope inference is made other than to enflame emotions is beyond me, but it distracts from the point and is beneath the dignity of the civil discourse I am used to in this community, which has, so far, allowed for reasonable discussion between people of widely different political persuasions without too many resorts to low blows. The last thing Los Alamos needs is an emotionally driven fight between citizens with the schools caught in the crossfire. Furthermore, the letter closes with argumentum ad misericordiam rather than with anything resembling a sound basis for public policy.
As far as the Schools renting surplus space to LASC, as others have reminded us, the Pueblo Complex is not a school. Robert Pirsig's Church of Reason essay in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance comes to mind, reminding us that the brick and mortar appearance of a building does not always tell us what is going on inside. The Schools rent surplus space out to help maintain their bottom line. The Schools' rental to a credit union, a truck rental agency, LANL, and others does not constitute an endorsement of any of these activities (including, I presume, an endorsement of the continued maintenance and safeguarding of the nation's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, which, after all, pays for the Schools) but plain old good business sense. Likewise, rental of Middle School space to craft fairs is a business decision, although I doubt any would object to a crafts fair.
Indeed, schools across the country rent to religious organizations to help maintain the bottom line. These are carefully crafted agreements that do not constitute an endorsement of a particular faith or even an endorsement of religion. That is especially good in my opinion, since some religions take issue with the very science taught in our schools.
Finally, back to the gun show. Los Alamos is an incredibly safe community. The fact that this is a safe community does not provide any data suggesting that firearms ownership or a gun show that has been going on for some 17 years is in any way antithetical to safety. While Ms.Schick makes clear her distaste for guns, nowhere does she put forth an argument demonstrating that the gun show endangers students, puts the Schools at risk, or leads to crime. Indeed, by supporting the JNROTC marksmanship program, the LASC has supported the teaching of safe gun handling and helped the team reach national stature. Furthermore, the men and women I encountered at the show are a broad cross section of the community. The Schools should no more discriminate against our holding a gun show when renting out space than it would discriminate against any other respectable Los Alamos community group. Even Socialists ;-)