EDITORIAL: Gun culture eating schools' budgets

Dispatch Editorial Board
Chambersburg vs Red Lion during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Red Lion would win the game 26-21. Dawn J. Sagert photo

High school band: the next victim of America's gun fetish.

There seems to be no limit to what some in Congress and their master at the National Rifle Association believe Americans should pay so a tiny minority can wield weapons of war.

Children are slaughtered with disturbing regularity. Opening fire on a crowd seems to be a new pastime. And even corporate America — hardly a panacea of moral authority — has started telling the gun fetishists to stop parading assault-style weapons around like religious relics in their stores.

But it's the school districts that are under particular pressure in the wake of mass shootings where children are indiscriminately gunned down by rifles built for the battlefield. And, all the while, government remains strategically paralyzed, the desired result for those who rate gun sales as a top priority.

As a result, school districts throughout York County are pouring cash into new security measures. What choices do they have? Parents are panicking. Lawmakers are regulating. No one is funding. 

More:York County districts shoulder burden as security costs become 'new normal'

More:Focus on mental health at first meeting of Pa. task force on school safety

More:Central York takes lead in school safety as districts compete for grants

For instance, Central York School district must grapple with a new $500,000 annual expense for a slew of new security staff and programs. 

Officials there failed to secure federal grants to help cover the cost. And miserly state officials kept flat Pennsylvania's funding for school security programs.

It's the same story throughout York County. School officials and board members want to be responsive to concerned parents. They don't want to be the site of the next national tragedy. And so, with little help from politicians in a position to actually do something, they deplete their reserve funds.

Eventually, that excess cash will be gone, leaving school boards with two options as the cost of simply securing a school increases year after year — hike taxes or ax programs. And, to be sure, many will take the politically safer latter route. 

In a few years, expect these new security measures to butt directly against educational programs. And they'll win. Suddenly, it will be the typically "expendable" humanities that pay the price for a society-wide panic that's entirely driven by America's fascination with firearms specifically designed for mass slaughter.

Plays, bands and the art programs — the very endeavors that define civilizations — are likely to buckle under the political pressure for even more security. The 2008 financial crisis already weakened the humanities, and they've yet to recover.

And, all the while, national Republicans will blame everything but guns. They'll point at video games, while ignoring that children in the U.S. play the same games children in Japan play. They'll blame some poorly defined mental health issues, while ignoring that those exist throughout the world, too. And they'll rail against the secularization of society, while conveniently disregarding data that shows Americans are by far the most religious people in the developed west.

They'll ignore the fact that it's gun ownership that sets the U.S. apart from its cultural cousins in Europe, where gun violence is almost non-existent. And they'll parrot twisted interpretations of the Second Amendment to the Constitution that that have no basis in law nor precedent.

And Americans will continue paying for it — through insurance, police forces and, now, academic programs, too.