Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a close advisor to former President George W. Bush, moved on to the world of academia after her government service, working as a professor at Stanford University. Thus the debate about arming teachers in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shootings is not an abstract concept for her.
Yet, even this staunch establishment Republican sees the writing on the wall after the activism of the surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has finally forced the country to begin discussions on the impact of America’s gun culture on our society.
Speaking with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday, Rice spoke out about the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment in the 21st century, and her remarks demonstrate how far the conversation has shifted in just the last weeks.
“I think it is time to have a conversation about what the right to bear arms means in the modern world,” Rice said. “I don’t understand why civilians need to have access to military weapons. We wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank.”
Rice’s views on gun control when it comes to military-style assault weapons echo those of the majority of Americans who believe in the originalist interpretation of the 2nd amendment as granting the right to a well-regulated militia, rather than a blanket right for every individual to own any weapon they want. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger called that latter interpretation “a fraud on the American public” perpetuated by the NRA.
Yet, Rice is a staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment, stating “We can’t throw away the Second Amendment and keep the First,” saying that she considers the first two Constitutional amendments as “indivisible.”
Hewitt asked Rice how she felt as a professor about the idea of arming teachers as a deterrent to campus gun violence. The former Secretary of State responded that she didn’t think that was the right answer to the problem.
“I don’t really like the idea, frankly, of a gun in my classroom,” Rice admitted.
Still, she hedged her answer, deferring to the will of local communities.
“Look, if people need to train people to protect our schools, and perhaps even communities want to consider whether or not they need guards to protect the schools, it’s a sad thing to think that we might, then that’s something that we should look at,” Rice said.
In the end, however, Rice stressed the importance of continued debate on the issue of gun control.
“We have to start listening to each other, first and foremost,” she said.
Given the virulent invective normally emanating from NRA-sponsored Republican politicians in gun control discussions lately, Rice’s moderate and reasonable views seem like a throwback to another era. It’s a shame that in the Trump era the Republican party has been taken over by extremists who answer only to their NRA-donors rather than the will of the majority who know that military weapons belong on a battlefield and not in our homes and schools.