I am sorry to have wasted my bold prediction for 2013 on actual laws the Montana legislature might actually pass (see page 14), because it took my attention away from state Rep. David Howard. That was a mistake, and it was one the Republican from Park City would never make himself—neither the actuality part nor the attention.
In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Howard has taken to Facebook to propose a bold new initiative directly to the people. I would not dim the brilliance of his plan through paraphrase, so here it is (sic throughout):
"Create an immediate Solution: Reinstitute prayer in Schools so that those who pray can shine the light of God on the Children. Then arm those (teachers and principals) who want to be trained like a police officer to carry a concealed weapon, and have the local police make unscheduled stops on campus. This will create a strong adversary and provide people who can fight back so those gutless sociopaths can be stopped from preying upon our schools and killing our children."
Have you ever heard a better statement of purpose for the American public education system? "To create strong adversaries" should be inscribed over the door of every elementary school in the country, just as soon as we finish giving teachers and principals their much-needed tactical weapons training. Once Howard's plan has been implemented, school shootings will be replaced by school shootouts, and everything will be fine.
Putting a gun in every classroom is only half of Howard's strategy to reduce gun violence in schools—sorry, "Schools"of course. There is also the part about using prayer to "shine the light of God on the Children." Under present United States policy, God cannot see the Children, because His holy tracking system has been disabled by the ACLU. Were teachers allowed to flag each Child via morning prayer, God would be able to exempt them from shooting when He sends heavily armed maniacs to die at the hands of even better-armed science teachers. But thanks to the Supreme Court, He is powerless.
As a Montana state legislator, Howard can only do so much to overturn the ban on classroom prayer established by the U.S. Supreme Court 50 years ago in Engel v. Vitale. The court has yet to rule on classroom multi-combatant crossfire scenarios, however, so in that area the representative from HD 60's way is clear. Training and arming the state's schoolteachers is merely a logistical problem, whereas getting that God-light onto the kids presents some theoretical obstacles. Fortunately, theoretical legislation is Howard's specialty.
Consider his record from the last session of the state legislature, in 2011. Howard sponsored or requested 10 bills, eight of which died in committee. One of them would have provided state assistance to offset economic damage caused by the cattle disease brucellosis. Another seven addressed the statewide scourge of illegal immigration—bills to require proof of citizenship in order to receive state services, a bill criminalizing the failure to carry "alien registration" documents and, somewhat paradoxically, a bill prohibiting the issue of identification cards to illegal aliens.
Any Montanan who has struggled to make himself understood to a Canadian dishwasher understands the scope of the problem that these bills address. Yet most state representatives are afraid to take a stand, for fear of losing the crucial immigrant vote. Only Howard is brave enough to take up the controversial cause of nativism, just as only he is bold enough to buck popular sentiment and demand that we assist God in identifying and loving the Children.
So I offer two more bold predictions for 2013. The first is that Howard's classroom concealed-carry plan will work, and deranged gunmen will become so afraid to enter our schools that teachers will have to fan out into the streets and look for them. Second, Howard will parlay the success of his proposal into a whole passel of imaginary legislation, equipping cats with robotic arms so dogs stop pushing them around, requiring strippers to really mean it when they call you handsome and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the war on Christmas.
These measures will not always be popular, and passing them won't be easy. The real business of government rarely is. But you can bet that David Howard will be up in Helena fighting for them, standing up for God and being born here and all the other issues his contemporaries are afraid to face.
To quote the great lawgiver's Facebook page, "Young mass Killers, Frontal Lobe of the brain is larger!" Also, the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with appeals to sentimentality and racism. The second quote is a paraphrase. I think Howard would agree with me, though, and maybe even make a law about it.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, consumer culture and lying at combatblog.net.