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Responsibility is an important — and much used — word in the NRA organization. It is the word leadership has taught the rank-and-file members that excuses them from any responsibility for the horrible, callous bloodshed of innocent lives.

They need only to claim that they are responsible, law-abiding citizen gun-owners who use their guns responsibly. They believe in responsibility. After each gun calamity, to show how responsible they are, they line up uniformly and loudly condemn the actual shooter.

Then they point here, there and everywhere to identify the "true" causes of each calamity, which evidently are accepted as inherent in our flawed society at large. They shift suspicion away from themselves in many wily ways. They appoint themselves as experts in social psychology in which only they can see the kid whose mind boils with urgings to become famous, to gain revenge, or who knows what kind of fantastic aberration.

These "responsible" gun owners say those shooters, who use their deadly weapons irresponsibly, are sick. They point out over and over that the laws we have on the books are a sufficient shield against the slaughter that now has become commonplace in our fair land. They look askance at our law enforcement agencies and cry out their shortcomings. If only they would do their job and enforce the laws.

The remedies they offer invariably leave themselves immaculate and guiltless, unscathed of any serious, true responsibility. Fortify the schools, they say. Arm the teachers, teach the teachers to shoot straight, buy them guns and enough ammo to frighten away any would-be shooters. Hire and equip trained guards, provide full employment for our unemployed veterans, supply them with a generous number of man's best friends. Design, build and install the latest foolproof electronic ID and detection systems. They haven't suggested professionally staffed and equipped emergency medical stations in each school, but they’ll think of it eventually.

Fortify the schools. Who will pay for all of these largely untested ideas? Surely not the NRA. It is not responsible, nor are the members at large, nor are their leaders. They use their guns responsibly. Nor are the turncoat public officials whose compliance they buy. They’re not responsible. The CEOs of the fattening gun industry? Nope! They’re responsible only to their stockholders. They don’t pay either.

Who pays then?

We, the ordinary citizens — we pay. In our daily lives, we pay. Consider the social cost. The innocent victims and their survivors, the mothers and fathers, they pay. Our society at large pays in the loss of productive, contributing citizens, and in living in a state of constant fear and dread. The taxpayers, the teachers and the children in all of the deprived, underfunded public school districts, they pay.

Fortify the schools. Consider the cost in simple dollars as it might affect our school tax bill. According to the Digest of Education statistics for 2010-11, there were 98,817 public and private school districts in the United States. Assuming a modest $5,000 per district to fortify one school, we arrive at a national estimated diversion of public funds in excess of $494 million added to an already unbearable burden.

And what do we get for our money? We still cannot be sure that our children will be safe in their fortified schools. Other places where we typically gather still will be a happy hunting ground for a shooter. What about all those big, yellow school buses daily following the same routes past excellent coverage? Actually, only a very small number of our population would benefit from all the dollar and human cost. They still could play with their Devil’s toys with impunity.

We pay, they play. It is not fair.

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Fred H. Dippel, of Marion, is regular letter-writer to The Southern.

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