Lawyers, Guns, and Moneys: Armed Schools Edition

This is an older post that I originally wrote on Facebook. Some of the numbers may be out of date, but sadly nothing has changed in the country in regards to school shooting or the immediate responses.

So you have all likely seen the meme going around about solving school shootings by placing armed Veterans in schools. The idea is that Vets have firearms training, love kids, and would love to do something to help them. And most of those are true

And let me say: I am all in favor of veterans getting jobs, I am all in favor of there being fewer school shootings. That being said it deserves a look at what this would actually mean.

There are 98,817 schools estimated to be in the U.S., but lets round that up to 100k just for easy math. Four veterans per school is 400,000 new employees, which at a wage of $8.00/hour means 3.2 million dollars /per hour/ that our schools will have to come up with in a time when they are receiving less money from the states and fewer grants from the federal government because of budget cuts. 8 hour day is 24 million per day, times a 270 day school year means this program would cost $6.8 billion in payroll alone.

Now divided among the fifty states that is only an additional $136 million per state (and yes, I know that is assuming an even distribution of schools across the states, but its illustrative even if some states would be way lower and some way higher). But to break it down Nebraska has roughly 1300 public schools. That means 5200 veterans, for a total of $332,000 dollars per day and $89,856,000 dollars per 270 day school year. Or a cost of $48.41 per person (not per taxpayer) per year in a state that features a school district that last year voted down a $25 million school improvement bond that would have, among other things, paid for there to be /REAL WALLS/ at one school (as opposed to the floating, movable walls which provide no protection at all during a shooting). And again, this is just payroll.

Now…an AR-15 costs at the low end $800, and a Beretta 92FS costs about $300 on the low end. So (in addition to the $6.8 billion) it would cost roughly $320 million to arm them with AR fifteens, or $120 million to arm them with Beretta 92FS. Or if you want to give them a rifle and a side-arm, $440 million.

So to give them a t-shirt (figure ten dollars for $4 million), a Beretta 92FS, and pay them $8/hour it would cost just a bit under $7 billion, and a bit over for an AR-15. Before health care, time off, a pair of pants, any vests ($100 bucks a pop minimum for another $40 million), any /ammo/, and paying them minimum wage. And remember that every dollar you want to raise that wage by, to approach a living wage for veterans, raises the total cost of this project by $400,000 per hour.

To bring it back to Nebraska that means the total cost for each employee would be 5200 veterans + 300 dollar Beretta 92FS + $10 for a t-shirt + $89,856,000 payroll per year = a yearly total of $91,468,000. Plus ammunition, health care and benefits, pants, armor, training, etc. This would total about 9 percent of the budget for the Nebraska Department of Education per year, representing a rather significant increase in expenditures in a time when serious cuts are being made.

On top of that the DoD estimates that roughly 11% of Global War on Terror (GWoT) veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD, and many more may have symptoms without having a full blown case. As recent political events have shown the VA is terrible about getting veterans in for care, and is pretty terrible about treating them–doubly so for mental health issues. Additionally PTSD may not be readily apparent when someone is being hired. Of our 400,000 vets statistically 40,000 of them probably have PTSD. Even if we catch all but 1% (instead of 10), that is 4,000 armed soldiers with a mental illness that we have placed in schools with guns and ammunition (and t-shirts). Again, I’m not making light of veterans issues and I fully support increased awareness and treatment of issues stemming to our two decade-plus wars, but it is a statistic worth remembering when we’re considering ‘arm lots of people and put them in schools’ as a solution, no matter who we are arming.

There are real problems that face our schools, and our veterans. But lets at least approach solutions, even ones offered around on Facebook, with some understanding of the real cost it would take and the actual feasibility of any ideas.

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