The indictment of Rep. Duncan Hunter has brought scandal to the historically stable 50th Congressional District that encompasses Alpine, Escondido, Julian and most of eastern San Diego County.
As one of only seven districts under GOP control, the 50th represents an important interest for California Republicans who feel that Hunter’s bid for re-election is compromised. Carl DeMaio is one of several Republican candidates for Hunter’s seat who have rallied around the cause of retaining party control of the 50th.
Residents of the 50th—a district composed of rural towns and open spaces—have historically voted Republican and embraced conservative values. That tradition notwithstanding, DeMaio’s recently announced policies on gun control should raise serious questions even for staunch conservatives.
The campaign kickoff
DeMaio announced his Let’s Roll initiative in front of a Kearny Mesa gun store in mid-August. He positions the gun policy package as “combating acts of terror,” but a closer look at what exactly DeMaio is proposing reveals policies that would make guns more abundant and potentially encourage greater loss of life.
Two of the five points in the Let’s Roll plan put schools at center stage. Schoolchildren would receive “unbiased and accurate” instruction about Second Amendment rights. They would be schooled in basic self-defense techniques and told stories about “heroes who courageously fought back against evil and deranged attackers and saved lives,” to quote DeMaio’s own website.
The plan also calls for a volunteer-staffed “School Safety Reserve Corps” composed of retired military and law enforcement personnel. The schools would receive funding for equipment, training and background checks for these personnel.
Let’s Roll calls for improved background checks; many Americans support that. It calls for a “National Concealed Carry Permit Program;” this is probably not the right year to try and get that through Congress.
The icing on the cake is the “American Hero Reward Program,” which would deliver a financial reward to any individual who “takes down” a mass shooter. Reassuringly, the plan calls for the surviving family to receive an award if the individual should perish in the effort.
Wait — Where have I heard this before?
The policy smacks of the Trumpian dog-whistle politics that DeMaio has enthusiastically espoused on his radio show. There is no evidence to show that what DeMaio is proposing would do anything to reduce gun violence. What it would do, however, is drive gun sales up and force most American students further into a world steeped in guns and colored by the fear of mass shootings.
What parent wants to send their child off to school knowing that the child is encouraged to attack someone who brings a weapon onto campus? What part of “Kids are sick of gun violence” does DeMaio not understand?
He asserts that shooters “go to places where they think they can do the most damage because people there have less of a fighting chance.” A review of mass shooter behavior will show, however, that assailants rarely consider their own safety or likelihood of escape in planning an attack.
Imagine the crossfire if a shooting were to take place involving the armed personnel of a School Safety Reserve Corps; there is every reason to anticipate even more casualties than without their involvement. And what about the confusion that incoming law enforcement would experience when entering the premises?
Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and Norway have all instituted successful policies to curb gun violence. Not one of their policies involves increasing the number of guns or introducing firearms into schools. They have all involved reducing the number of guns in society.
Do DeMaio’s policies sound as though they’ll make the 50th district safer? No. Not the 50th district, not California, not this country. The policies are dangerous and irresponsible.
If you are a voter in the 50th District, please consider your options and cast your vote in 2020 for a candidate less interested in firearm proliferation and more interested in supporting laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
Chris Bono is a concerned San Diegan and a cybersecurity professional with over ten years of experience writing about technology, politics, exercise and nutrition, and automobiles.
Photo credit: San Diego Union-Tribune