Jane Close Conoley, the President of California State University - Long Beach, has, like many educators, thoughts on the recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. But unlike many of her national colleagues, Conoley decided to put her thoughts down on electronic paper, penning an incredible, rambling statement to students about the importance of gun control.
The letter, sent Monday, begins with unqualified support for a series of "walkout" demonstrations set to take place across the country in support of stricter gun regulations, but quickly devolves into Conoley's own Constitutional interpretation.
Needless to say, she received her Ph.D in school psychology, not her J.D. in Constitutional law. But regardless, she fancies herself a Constitutional scholar.
"Perhaps members of our Beach community might find it in their hearts to amplify efforts by these children to save themselves in a context where gun violence is enabled by policy makers dependent on special interest money hiding behind an outdated interpretation of our constitution," she writes, clearly unaware that the Supreme Court decision qualifying the Second Amendment's right to bear arms as an individual right came less than one decade ago.
But she goes on, moving swiftly from the subject of the Bill of Rights to those dastardly National Rifle Association members who are only in it for the money to be gained in selling weapons to children — something the NRA doesn't actually do.
"Students who organize to save the lives of their classmates are involved in a noble cause that should finally reframe the focus of the gun control debate from Second Amendment rights to the power of money and greed evident in the U.S. firearms manufacturing machine," she muses. "Does anyone doubt anymore that money is driving resistance to background checks, age limits for buying weapons, congressional prohibitions on taxpayer funded public health research involving guns, and bans on military style assault weapons? I hope not."
Clearly, Ms. Conoley lives in her own world, well removed from at least half of the country, which views Second Amendment rights as absolute and considers restrictions on that right a violation of their Constitutional guarantees — sort of the same way Planned Parenthood feels about restrictions on abortion. But we won't make that connection simply because it seems like it would be a little too much for Conoley to handle.
She has answers to other burning questions as well, like whether more guns would result in fewer mass shootings.
"Only those who are unaware of global statistics on gun-related deaths think that arming more people is the answer to reducing violence. More guns result in more deaths," she claims without evidence. "Further, schools will never have enough police officers to protect every classroom. Meeting violence with violence may resolve a single instance, but does nothing to solve the large-scale denial that solutions are possible."
Aside from a complete ban on weapons and government mandated confiscation, there are few things Conoley suggests that would have an impact on gun violence, largely because they don't address the root problem: personal and societal failings. There are already federally mandated background checks, age limits on purchasing, and a ban on military style assault weapons (the AR-15, despite all the hysteria is not, in fact, a military-grade weapon).
As for whether the federal government can study the connection between guns and violence, well, the federal government isn't the only entity that conducts scientific research. The head of a college — a research institution — might know that. That said, the prohibition, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, isn't a full barrier. It merely says that the CDC, like other government entities, cannot use "the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ... to advocate or promote gun control."
President Obama reversed the directive in 2012. But still the CDC hasn't found gun violence fit to study.
The good news is, for Conoley, that in her closing paragraph she deftly wraps up all of the leftist talking points on the subject, including those on "thoughts and prayers."
"There are answers if we look deeply and avoid offering "thoughts and prayers" in lieu of policy change. Importantly, the Centers for Disease Control should be allowed to use public money to research gun violence as a public health threat. Let's create evidence to inform policy," she says.