Obama’s Education Czar: Teaching Disarmament

While President Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Attorney General Eric Holder share an anti-gun ideology, they might not be the greatest threat to the Second Amendment among the current administration. Their gun control efforts could be vastly outdone by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s habit of equating gun bans with curing a “public health epidemic.”

Prior to becoming secretary of education, Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from 2001 to 2008. During that time, student performance in CPS remained static or fell even further behind the national average. For example, in October 2008 the Chicago Tribune reported: “The percentage of Chicago public high school students who met or exceeded state standards on a test tied to the ACT college-entrance exam dropped for the third consecutive year.”

According to the Progressive Review, fourth-grade tests improved by “less than three tenths of a percent” between 2003 and 2007 and eighth-grade math tests remained two points behind the national average for that same time period. Yet Duncan was lauded by his fellow leftists for his concern for the children, especially when he showed that concern through rallies against gun ownership, his heavy involvement with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and speech upon speech containing lines like: “I wish that our society valued children more than it values…traditions that might have been at home in a frontier society two centuries ago but make absolutely no sense today.”

For any of you who are new to Democrat double-speak, the “traditions” he criticizes are those tied to our nation’s heritage of keeping arms and bearing them.

In another Chicago Tribune story which ran in October 2008, Duncan said: “[Gun violence] is a public health epidemic. We are struggling to find the cure for AIDS, we are struggling to find the cure for cancer; [yet] we know the cure for this public health epidemic — getting rid of guns.”

Ironically, Duncan spewed a similar rant on April 1, 2008, at “a gun control rally sponsored by Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Catholic Church.” (Yes, you read that right: the same race-baiting Michael Pfleger who preached to Obama when the regular race-baiter, Jeremiah Wright, was on hiatus.)

According to the Illinois State Rifle Association, at the very time Duncan was fighting against gun rights with Pfleger, the Chicago Police Department was releasing studies which indicated that the vast majority of “children” dying in Chicago shootings were not average kids: “88% of murders [were] committed by people with previous criminal records” and “about 76% of murder victims had records as well.”

Isn’t it a little duplicitous to include the deaths of habitual criminals with those of innocent children shot on the playground? Doing so makes it look like someone is trying to inflate casualty figures in order to better the chance of securing a gun ban.

Men like Duncan and the anti-gun movements of which he was a part deserve more than a little scrutiny concerning the current crime spree in Chicago. It is, after all, on the homepage of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence that one finds the boast, “Keeping Illinois one of only two states that does not allow the carrying of loaded, concealed handguns in public places.”

The fact that such laws make Illinois one of only two states that keep law-abiding citizens unarmed in public places, where most mass shootings of unarmed law-abiding civilians occur, makes no difference to Duncan. He is convinced that Illinois current ban against concealed weapons doesn’t go far enough. Instead, he wants a completely gun-free society and promises to “keep fighting the NRA, the gun makers, the gun dealers, the gang bangers and everyone else who refuses to accept the undeniable fact that guns and kids don’t mix.” He even promises to reach “in the home” in his fight against gun ownership.

Perhaps it seems I’ve exaggerated Duncan’s threat to our freedom. Especially in light of the fact that states and schools, rather than the secretary of education, traditionally control book buys and curricula. But the key word with this administration is “change,” folks, and Duncan has promised to change the way the secretary of education oversees education.

To achieve this change, “[Duncan’s] discretionary money…is $5 billion, [which is] more than the entire budget of the Department of Education 35 years ago.” And in a recent interview conducted by John Merrow, Duncan not only made it clear that he will pursue “national standards” in curriculum but also that the funds in his budget will not make it to states that don’t educate his way: “States have to behave in…different ways [than they have]. … The idea of 50 states doing things, you know, their own way doesn’t quite make sense.”

Merrow asked Duncan if he meant to imply that money would only go to states that “do [what] Duncan wants.” And Duncan replied, “If you play by these rules, absolutely right.”

So there you have it. One of the most anti-gun ideologues in Washington not only plans to take it upon himself to set state curriculum via national standards but also to withhold money from states that don’t go his way. And if we sit idly by, it won’t be long till our children are taught that “we live in a society that values the right to bear arms over the lives of our children.”

We’ll have to counter this by reminding our children that “we the people,” not the government, are the defenders of our freedom, possessions and selves. And contrary to Duncan’s opinion, that defense is best done with a gun.

HUMAN EVENTS columnist A.W.R. Hawkins has been published on topics including the U.S. Navy, Civil War battles, Vietnam War ideology, the Reagan Presidency, and the Rebirth of Conservatism, 1968-1988. This article was published as “Gun Bans for Your Health” on HumanEvents.com.