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Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Solution to guns is more guns?

By Danny Westneat
Seattle Times staff columnist

Liberty Man is back! And this time he's got a gun.

He wants you to have a gun, too.

"Liberty Man" is the name I've coined for the rugged individualists that rear up whenever we're having some sort of civic trouble. No matter if the problem is life or death, Liberty Man's mantra is: You're on your own.

And so it is that in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings — as many are talking of what can be done, if anything, to change a culture awash in guns — Liberty Man has zeroed in on a uniquely American answer:

We need more guns, not fewer. In more places. The way to stop the next school shooting is to arm the teachers.

First out of the gate was Bellevue's Alan Gottlieb, head of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

"How many more tragedies does it take before we do something?" Gottlieb asked on Friday. "How many more children have to die before this country realizes that No-Gun Zones create perfect locations for violence?

"You cannot stop criminals and mad men with laws. You can only stop violence with the fear of armed victims."

The national Libertarian Party agreed, saying that "teachers, school administrators, and security guards should be allowed to carry the tools necessary to protect the students in their care. It's time to put an end to gun-free zones."

Even a former education secretary, Bill Bennett, said he favors having at least "one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing."

"The way we feel is, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Wait, that last quote wasn't from the education secretary. It was from a guy standing in a record long line Monday in Spokane to get a concealed-weapons permit. Because the other ritual we Americans follow after a mass shooting, besides talking about gun control, is to go out and arm up.

I guarantee you will see a series of stories soon that there's a run on the gun shops. The hottest item will be the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the weapon of choice for mass destruction in the Connecticut shooting.

Better get one before it's banned.

I wrote Sunday that it's doubtful this latest shooting will prompt much action on guns. Even though there are many steps we could try to at least slow, though certainly not stop, the mayhem, as other countries have shown. All without violating the Second Amendment.

But many readers reacted like Alan Gottlieb. No law can stop the next massacre. Only more guns can.

"How come I've never heard of a shooting at a gun show?" was a comment I heard from readers a dozen times.

There's a Wild West logic to it — at least the TV version of the Wild West. The next madman could think twice about storming an elementary school if he knew the teachers were toting Bushmasters. (Although it sure didn't deter Maurice Clemmons that his four victims in that Lakewood coffee shop three years ago were armed police officers in bulletproof vests.)

But the big local story earlier this year were the deaths of children after adults (including a cop) left guns lying around. Now, guns in the schools is the ticket to make kids safer?

Look, I don't have answers. And Gottlieb and others are right that guns sometimes are well-used in self-defense.

But what I wonder is: Who chose that our society would come to this? I guess the people, by arming up. But can we call this a society at all if the only recourse we've left ourselves is an arms race with crazed killers?

"The trouble with you liberals is you come from the Platonic/Marxist ideological mindset that says the state knows best," wrote another of my Liberty Man fans, "and that mankind can somehow change and improve."

Sure having my doubts about that last one.

Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com.


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