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joe-arpaio-ap-660_1This doesn’t smell right. In fact, it has the downright stench of opportunism.

Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration hardliner and Obama birther-conspiracy-peddling sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., has found a way to twist the tragedy of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre into an excuse to expand his police powers more than seriously protect children.

According to The Huffington Post, Arpaio now plans to have armed volunteer posses out patrolling areas around the county’s elementary schools. They won’t be posted on the campuses, however.

Unless they’re prepared to stop white guys who are dressed in camouflage or military vests, or black trench coats, I can’t quite see how that will work. Besides, that would be racial profiling, and that’s wrong.

Besides that, Arpaio likes to detain Latinos, not white people.

And because he has been shown to be a guy who ignores facts if they don’t jibe with his prejudices or his attempts at political opportunism – he insists that President Obama’s birth certificate is fake – I don’t trust him to use his posses to protect children as much as I suspect he’ll use them to step up his harassment of people of color.

No matter that they’ve never shot up a school.

No doubt, the time is long overdue to find a way to stop mass shootings. But the way to do that is through sensible gun control laws and better access to mental health services. One gun shop, for example, didn’t sell a “long gun” rifle to the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza, because he didn’t want to wait 14 days for a background check.

Perhaps if there was some way of tracking down people who refuse such checks, that might stop some mass murders.

On top of that, Arizona is a state with no laws requiring it to report people who have been determined to be mentally ill to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NCIS – something that would show up in a check by a gun seller.

Arpaio would be better off using his energies to fix that.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist who is based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her at tonyaajw@twitter. Or visit her webpage and blog, “Tonyaa’s Take,” at www.tonyaajweathersbee.com.

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