JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Democrat councilmember argues against school safety, mental health focus

Jun 28, 2022, 5:30 PM
Pierce County councilwoman Jani Hitchen (KIRO Newsradio)...
Pierce County councilwoman Jani Hitchen (KIRO Newsradio)
(KIRO Newsradio)

When it comes to school shootings, Pierce County councilwoman Jani Hitchen only wants to talk about guns.

In a pithy and poorly argued editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune, Hitchen rejects basic school safety measures — many she’s afforded as councilmember. She says we should not focus on the mental issues common amongst school shooters because it could create stigma. And she says police are never the answer because, well, she doesn’t like them.

Most of her arguments make little sense. And she spends practically no time on what she sees as a solution: banning guns.

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Stop focusing on solutions!

Hitchen’s editorial is titled, “Guns are the problem. Until the U.S. passes real reforms, school shootings will persist.”

But she doesn’t spend much time explaining why guns are the problem. In fact, she completely ignores how they’re the problem by merely stating that they are.

Instead, the bulk of her piece explains what isn’t the solution because her end goal is gun control.

But her position on some non-controversial and easily implemented solutions or mitigation strategies is alarming. She seems willing to let children be vulnerable as part of her broader goal of banning guns.

A locked door turns schools into prisons, or something

Most businesses and government offices have limited points of entry. Oftentimes, there is just one. But if you do that in a school, Hitchen believes they become prisons. Her position is as bizarre as it is laughable, especially since the building that houses the Pierce County council has one point of entry for the general public.

Hitchen claims creating “one point of entry” would turn “public schools into jails [and] will not solve the problem.”

Though she doesn’t explain how one point of entry turns a school into a jail, she leans on her experience as a school teacher. Her former school had two entrances that were locked during the school day.

“Over 800 students moved in and out of the same doors at the same time every passing period. Schools are designed to move people through the spaces quickly and safely. Funneling every person through one door means lost teaching time, increased congestion, increased frustration, and anxiety,” she writes.

Hitchen makes no sense

What in the world is she talking about? What school only has two doorways for students to transition between classes during the school day?

Most school buildings on this planet already have limited points of entry. And inside, with these larger spaces called “hallways,” students can roam to and from rooms called “classrooms” that have one or two doors that accommodate a couple dozen or so students walking in and out of them at any given time.

There’s no lost teaching time at the start of the day when you have limited entry points. Students are fully capable of walking in and out of a door. Or is Hitchen arguing for classrooms without any walls? Did Hitchen’s school not have hallways?

One point of entry doesn’t always mean one small door, either. It’s one entry point — it could be many doors at the front of the school. And it seems odd that Hitchen is presumably willing to lock the door to her home to protect herself from strangers walking in, but won’t afford that basic and non-controversial tool to vulnerable students and staff.

Channeling her inner ‘ACAB’

Just say no to school resource officers (SRO), Hitchen argues, after complaining that schools shouldn’t have locked doors and one point of entry. Though the county building is afforded armed protection, your kids are undeserving.

“There is very little evidence that shows armed police officers in schools reduce shootings. It could be a deterrent. It could be why an elementary school is picked over a high school. But the reality is, one police officer with a pistol is going to be challenged to handle someone with several semi-automatic weapons with extended clips,” she writes.

This is another argument wholly disconnected from reality.

There’s limited data because there haven’t really been many studies, though what we do have is mixed. But given there are upward of 20,000 SROs and, despite what Democrats and media claim, very few mass shootings at schools, one could argue the benefits of officers are understated.

Hitchen’s only argument is that one pistol against several semi-automatic weapons is not effective. But they currently use their handguns to stop criminals armed with semi-automatic weapons outside of school. All she’s arguing is that we either need more than one SRO on campus or a better-armed SRO.

Don’t focus on mental health

If mental health issues played a role in a shooting, you’re supposed to suppress that info.

Hitchen says she’s fine with more money for mental health services (how generous of her). She argues, “blaming mass shootings on mental health is stigmatizing and ignores the fact that people who struggle with mental health challenges are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.”

I’m not sure anyone is blaming mass shootings solely on mental health, but it’s not stigmatizing to anyone.

People who have untreated mental illness can be prone to violence. There’s a bizarre movement to whitewash the reality of some mental illnesses under the claim that it could stigmatize someone. Frankly, I don’t care if it stigmatizes someone. If it brings more focus, funding, and action on getting people the help they need so they don’t turn to violence against anyone or themselves, that’s a win.

And, no, pointing this out doesn’t ignore people who struggle with mental illness. It does the opposite: it brings a much-needed spotlight to a serious issue that people like Hitchen feign interest in addressing, but won’t do anything because it could stigmatize.

Just ban guns already

Hitchen offers the bare minimum argument against any of the non-controversial and effective tools to stop school shootings because she has one goal: gun confiscation. Why waste time researching strategies she doesn’t seem to understand when your end goal is the erosion of our right to bear arms?

She first brags about anti-gun legislation that Washington state lawmakers passed. To my knowledge, none of what she mentions (red flag laws, background checks in private gun sales) prevented school shootings here. School shooters in Washington and everywhere else don’t follow gun laws. They break them and then hope Democrat judges and prosecutors, inspired by light-on-crime Democrat policies, put them in restorative justice programs instead of jail.

Hitchen argues that “we should continue leading the way by banning assault weapons, requiring a license to have a gun just like we do for cars, and more.”

That’s her entire argument.

How did this get published, exactly?

Hitchen doesn’t define “assault weapons” because every gun is an “assault weapon.” It’s a meaningless term and considerably lazier than the standard “military-style gun” line that partisans use.

She doesn’t explain what kind of license should be necessary to own a gun. If it’s just a ploy to put more onerous restrictions on gun rights, thankfully, we now have a United States Supreme Court that values explicit rights guaranteed to us by our constitution.

And what is the “and more” she references? She doesn’t even know. I would have asked her on my radio show, but her office turned down an interview request — the sign of someone who really knows their stuff!

If you’re asking yourself how such a poorly written editorial was even published in the first place, just look at the newspaper it’s in and the mediocre columnist who edits the section. Yes, it now makes sense. The Tacoma News Tribune is Pierce County’s PR firm for the Democrat party, and it constantly reminds us why local news is dying.

If you want to get serious about stopping school shootings — or any kind of violence — we would be wise to ignore clueless, unhelpful ideologues like Hitchen. She’s more anti-gun than she is pro-school safety.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Democrat councilmember argues against school safety, mental health focus