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Joe Arpaio's Posse Now Guarding Schools, Trying Not To Shoot Off Own Feet

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I have this great image in my head of Joe Arpaio with a patch over one eye and wearing a long black leather coat, walking into a tiny dishwasher repair shop in a strip mall somewhere in unincorporated Phoenix. He approaches the aging owner of the place, seeming to appear from out of the shadows, and says, "You're pretty good with your hands, so good in fact that you've become part of a bigger universe -- you just don't know it yet. I'm here to talk to you about a very special team we're putting together." He then repeats this same basic thing all across town at various used car dealerships, bowling alleys, Home Depots and blood pressure testing machines at Rite Aid pharmacy. And this is how he puts together his own personal Octogenarian Avengers Initiative.

In the immediate couple of weeks following the unimaginable shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, there were a lot of cries from conservatives about the necessity of escalating the arms race they saw developing on the front lines of our nation's schools, all culminating with NRA head and raving lunatic Wayne LaPierre offering up his own organization's official stance that armed guards should be posted at schools across the country -- because more guns, not fewer, wielded by "good guys," are the answer. Well, living cartoon character Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was always one step ahead of the NRA because you could tell right off the bat that Sandy Hook left him champing at the bit to unleash the awesome might of his "posse" of deputized average old white guys from the nether regions of Maricopa onto the county's unsuspecting schools. The man who dispatched members of this same Geezer Squad to Hawaii last year to supposedly get to the bottom of the Barack Obama birth certificate conspiracy would now use it to stand watch over thousands of children, all while armed with both a complement of small firearms and the delusion that they'll someday be able to play the hero and take down an armed gunman.

If you're saying to yourself right now, "Gosh, a 74-year-old private citizen locked, loaded and ready to get into a good, old-fashioned gunfight with a heavily armed maniac in the middle of a bunch of kids -- what could possibly go wrong?" congratulations, you're sane. To no avail, though -- because Arpaio's boys are now on the case at schools across Maricopa County.

I don't pretend to have an FBI profiler's knowledge of what makes your average school shooter tick, but I'm willing to place a very big bet on something that I haven't really heard discussed yet: Armed guards in general, and certainly old guy "deputies" armed with a Glock and a shotgun each, aren't going to be a deterrent to a thoroughly committed psychopath who's likely been planning his shooting spree for months and who's fully prepared not to leave the scene of his crime in anything but a body bag. In fact, the presence of someone able to fire back will probably just make the entire endeavor that much more exciting; it ratchets up the danger and creates a challenge, one, by the way, which can easily be dispatched by watching Deputy Dawg's movements for a couple of days then surprising him with, say, a shot to the back of the head while he's sitting in his car eating a bag lunch. Sound monstrous? Do you really think anyone contemplating a school shooting would be less gruesome in his planning and execution? What's worse, I have no doubt that most school shooters would relish an armed confrontation with a mildly dangerous but in reality easily disposed of threat -- particularly if he can draw the "guard" into the confines of a school building and start a violent firefight. Imagine the carnage possible with not one but two guys with guns popping off rounds all over the fucking place.

No matter what kind of firearms training he's supposedly had, a retired salesman isn't an honest-to-God police officer and he damn sure is no match for a kid or man armed with an assault rifle and a death wish. Believing that one of Sheriff Joe's idiotic posse would be able to drop a fully invested school shooter without potentially hurting or killing a whole lot of other people is unrelenting madness. As usual, what Arpaio and those like him are suggesting is a case of gun fetishists attempting to live with the problem -- or at least work around it without acknowledging the bloody price we all pay to satisfy their broad interpretation of the Second Amendment -- rather than actually fixing the problem. Working to eliminate easy access to guns, particularly military-grade weaponry, has the potential to actually stop school shootings in the first place instead of leaving us in a position of having to defend against them.

If we admitted that guns aren't the answer right out of the gate, quenched our seemingly insatiable lust for them, and made it much harder for anyone to get his hands on as many of them as his little heart desires, then we wouldn't even need Arpaio's ridiculous posse -- and its members could go back to playing shuffleboard in Sun City and waiting to die of natural causes.