The Santa Fe high school student who said she was just waiting for shootings to happen at her school in the aftermath of the killing of students and a teacher there signifies the end of schools as sanctuaries for children. It’s a sad time for students, teachers, parents, and school personnel as they await the possibility of some armed person with murderous intent crossing the school threshold and savaging its environment.
The Washington Post reports that since the 1999 Columbine massacre, when 12 students were murdered and 21 were injured, 135,000 children in primary and secondary schools, and 187,000 on college campuses have been exposed to gun violence. In 2018, there have been 17 shootings in schools, the highest number since 1999. The statistics don’t tell the traumatic effects of these terrible incidents upon the survivors.
The result is that schools are being turned into battlegrounds, creating environments rife with fear and anxiety. This is obviously obstructing the education of our children. I don’t have any quick, ready-made solutions for this debasement of our educational settings, but I do believe there is one obvious way to improve school safety: keep guns out of schools and off of campuses.
There are some idiotic decisions made that have had the opposite effect of curtailing the presence of guns at educational sites. One is to arm teachers. That policy results in a proliferation of guns at schools. The presence of more guns in schools and on campuses increases the possibility of shootings, either intentionally or accidentally. In my opinion, most teachers have enough of a responsibility caring for and educating their students without being expected to wield guns and learn how to use them during shoot-outs.
The Santa Fe shootings show that having armed guards stationed in schools doesn’t necessarily protect students and teachers. Many school buildings contain too large an area for a couple of guards to protect once an armed assailant gains entrance.
One of the most insane laws enacted in 12 states allows the carrying of guns on campus. Now, in those dozen states, there’s the possibility of hundreds of armed individuals roaming around campus grounds, in classes, and in dormitories. (College professors might think twice about failing students that haven’t earned passing grades when those students are armed, and therefore, dangerous.)
I believe there is one way to reduce the possibility of guns in schools and that is; (1) have one main entrance with all of the other doors only able to be exited from the inside; (2) position detection devices at that one entrance so anyone with a concealed weapon will be detected and dealt with before they gain entrance.
Unfortunately, this won’t help if potential killers are roaming school grounds and campuses. Perhaps more surveillance equipment manned by qualified personnel inside the building will detect individuals on the grounds that arouse suspicion enough to summon police before any damage has been done.
We’re not going to get rid of guns, so we have to elect legislators and government officials with the guts to pass legislation that keeps firearms out of the hands of those with questionable stability, mental or otherwise. Background checks have to be thorough, and not soft, as they are today. These are weapons of war, and were not invented for recreational use.
It is astonishing that in the aftermath of all of the killings of children and their teachers, and of students on campuses, Congress and the Administration lack the courage to create and pass laws that restrict the availability of guns. Furthermore, laws should exist indicting parents who allow their children access to guns that are used in these senseless killings.
We want children to see their schools as sanctuaries from violence. It’s time our citizenry let their elected officials know we really believe in the innocence of children and the necessity to protect them as they go through their schooling. We must insist that those seeking elected positions take action to ensure these fundamental values and basic human rights.