NRA study aims at the wrong target

The economy has not been kind to schools. Consider the toll in SLO County alone: Summer schools stripped to the bone; librarians and counselors in jeopardy; class size reduction a distant memory.

Now, a study commissioned by the NRA suggests that schools hire armed guards — or train teachers to do double-duty as armed protectors.

For just a minute, let’s set aside questions about the advisability of turning elementary schools into armed camps and focus on who would pay for this. The feds? The individual states? Bill and Melinda Gates? The NRA? Or how about PTAs? Instead of financing field trips and library books, PTAs could use all those big bucks from their wrapping-paper sales and car washes to buy guns and ammo.

But, hey, let’s not stop with schools. We need armed security at our playgrounds and beaches and skate parks, our video arcades and swimming pools, our churches and day care centers and after-school programs and ice cream shops and any other place where kids gather when they’re not in school.

Ridiculous, you say? You’re right. The fact is, we can’t station “good guys with guns” everywhere — and even if we could, there’s no guarantee that the “bad guys” wouldn’t find some way to elude or overpower them.

If we mean to invest more money in children’s safety, it would be far more effective to adequately fund mental health programs so that we can identify and treat troubled kids before they hurt others — or themselves.

The NRA, though, seems more interested in protecting the interests of its members than in protecting kids — and that earns the organization a barrage of brickbats.

Roses to our marathon runners

Bouquets of 26 (or 13) roses are en route to the nearly 4,000 runners competing in the SLO Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday. Whatever your personal goal may be — whether it’s finishing first or making it to the finish line — we wish you the best.

By the way, if you’re not running but plan to be out and about on Sunday, remember that several roads will be closed for the race. Go to http://www.slomarathon.com/the-races/road-closures for more info.

Recognizing a record harvest

We honor the local ag community with a big bouquet of cut flowers for the record-setting harvest of 2012. The value of all crops grown in SLO County totaled nearly $862 million last year — an 18 percent increase over 2011. Strawberries were top banana at $205 million, followed closely by wine grapes, $197.9 million.

That’s a lot of cabbage, but this isn’t just about the bottom line — it’s also about putting real food on our tables. Whether we’re looking for broccoli (No. 4), avocados (No. 8) or lemons (No. 13), we never have far to travel in SLO County to find fresh, nourishing food, be it at a farmers market, a local food stand or a grocery. For that, we thank every worker who has a hand in the harvest.

Going the extra mile for seals

We toss a boatload of bouquets to volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay who are caring for the influx of distressed, starving seals stranded along the California coast. As Tribune writer David Sneed reported Sunday, 900 malnourished seals have beached themselves so far this year, compared to 100 in 2012.

Biologists don’t know the underlying cause of the problem, though they say female seals aren’t finding enough sardines and anchovies to support themselves and their young.

Consequently, many pups — mostly sea lions — are being stranded on beaches, and that’s put such a strain on Southern California rescue facilities that the Morro Bay center has been enlisted to help care for seals from SoCal.

A call also has gone out for donations to help provide “meals for seals”; information is available at http://www.marinemammalcenter.org.