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Armed guards at schools? Fund them with gun tax

Sen. Luke Kenley's proposal to levy a license plate tax on Hoosier motorists for highway improvement funds seems like a good idea, provided the infrastructure improvements benefit all parts of the state and not just the central Indiana infrastructure he cited.

In fact, the Appropriations Committee chairman's idea is such a good one that perhaps user fees ought to be considered with every new spending proposal, beginning with the proposal from Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Sen. Pete Miller to spend $10 million on school resource officers. The amount they've proposed falls far short of covering the cost of putting an armed officer in every Indiana school, so why not attach a tax to weapons sales? Every gun purchased in the state could include a surcharge to help cover the cost of armed school resource officers.

The number of gun permits filed in the state isn't readily available on the state's web site, but a news story last month quoted a Terre Haute gun shop owner claiming sales of 75 to 100 guns a day in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. It surely wouldn't take too high of a fee to raise ample revenue.

The NRA inevitably would object, but can't we agree that it was quite clever for the organization fronting gun manufacturers to respond to the deaths of 20 small children by endorsing a plan that would increase gun sales? Genius.

Editorial cartoonist Paul Fell has a spot-on cartoon this week in which a student asks where all of the school's teachers have gone.

"They've been laid off. The school district couldn't afford to have both armed guards and educators," replies a burly guard in combat boots and bulletproof vest – a handgun and assault rifle at the ready.

If Indiana lawmakers agree with the attorney general's plan, they should find a way to pay for it that doesn't take any more money from public schools than they've already taken through budget cuts, charter-school expansion and voucher entitlements.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at