We Can't Prevent

We Can Minimize The Loss

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school killings, it is natural that some people blame the gun.  Others call for metal detectors, visitor screening, and more lockdown drills.  Some lash out looking for any excuse or reason on which to blame these deaths.  The unfortunate reality is that we cannot prevent a lone, determined gunman from killing children.

We could install metal detectors at schools.  For them to truly be effective, they would need to be located at every school building door, and staffed from 5 a.m. to midnight (at least that is how long many high schools have "something" going on in the buildings.  There would need to be skeleton security crews on duty 24/7.  Of course, metal detectors are not foolproof, so we would need x-ray machines at those locations as well, and the associated staff to operate them.  Then we would need to seal all of the windows in the buildings so that something could not be passed through.  Yep, that would keep guns out of the schools.  But what happened at the Red Lake, Minnesota school killing?  The 16-year-old killer immediately shot the school security officer operating the metal detector.

But let's say we can completely secure the building... that moves the threat to the parking lots, playgrounds and bus loading areas.  Maybe we need to have tall walls completely surrounding school property with a vehicle sally port.  We already have facilities like this... they are called, prisons.

Do we want our children to be "safe" if the result is that they spend their days in the physical equivalent of a prison?  Even if the American people want to make that sacrifice, it just drives the threat elsewhere... the bus stop in the neighborhood, the field trip to museum, the prom at the hotel ballroom/lounge...

In Israel, school teachers, staff and parents carry guns.  In Utah, the law allows school personnel with concealed carry permits to carry at school.  In some West Texas counties, they have established a program where school staff apply for the armed staff program that is similar to the armed flight deck officer program for commercial pilots.  Those who are selected for the program go through extensive range time with the sheriff's office each summer and carry at work.  Nobody knows who these staff members are except the district superintendent, the principal, and the sheriff's office.

What do Israel, Utah and West Texas  have in common?  THEY DON'T HAVE SCHOOL KILLINGS!

Random locker searches, counselors, anonymous tip lines, school threat assessment teams, anti-bullying programs, open lines of communications, involved parents, school security... all of these are important.  They contribute to an overall safe environment.  Nearly every week, we hear of a school killing that was thwarted by another student speaking up and letting someone know what was being planned.  In my school district, a couple of times a year a student is found with a gun.  It is always found because another student knew and told.  None of these will have any effect on the lone, deranged killer that has no obvious connection to the school.

In the 1997 Pearl, Mississippi school killing, the assistant principal retrieved his .45 pistol from his car and stopped the killer.  In 1998 Parker Middle School had their 8th grade dance at a local Edinboro, PA restaurant.  A student pulled out a pistol, killed a teacher, wounded another teacher and two students, and the got held at bay for 11 minutes until police arrived by the restaurant owner who used his own shotgun.  At the 2002 Appalachian School of Law shooting here in Virginia, two legally armed students stopped the killer before more were killed.  In Wyoming, the law allows concealed carry on college campuses, but the community college system requires permission of the campus police chief.  None of those chiefs will grant permission.  Recently a professor was killed by his son with a crossbow in front of his class.  At the University of Wyoming, concealed carry is allowed anywhere on campus except the dorms.  Students living in the dorms can secure their weapons in the campus police station and be escorted to their dorms if they wish.  They haven't had any killings at UW.

The answer is easy, but the fortitude to implement it is missing from our elected servants.

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