School starts in two months. Using the school shooting data summarized in my June 14 article, we can forecast there will be 10 school shootings events during the 2018-2019 school year in which a gun will be fired on campus and someone — maybe many people — will be wounded or killed. The trend line has been very strong since 1990.
What issue could possibly be more important for state and local governments to address?
But America is divided on a key preventative action: allowing a few teachers (school officials) to have hand guns. I asked a teacher about this issue recently. She responded, emphatically: “The last thing we need in our schools is more guns.”
Most Americans, including would agree the idea seems counterintuitive. Somehow, the two just don’t go together.
But should they?
Since our society has become more urbanized, most people grow up without ever seeing, much less, handling a gun. So, there is naturally an uneasiness and fear. I understand. For some people, guns may conjure up thoughts of the ‘Old West’ (i.e. teachers walking the halls with six-guns). I don’t know.
What I do know is that the country I grew up in no longer exists. Social media has destroyed dialogue and driven society into an extreme state of polarization. Ideology and emotion trump all reason. There is a lot of vitriol. Is it conceivable that consistent hateful vitriol could eventually incite physical violence?
In the meantime, our schools and children are vulnerable.
Opponents of guns in schools say background checks, banning bump stocks, banning semi-automatic weapons, etc. will solve the problem. I have no issue with these measures, the only problem is that such measures only affect gun purchases. They won’t affect the 300 million guns in private hands today.
But, wait. Before the shooters entered, the schools were already gun-free zones. Hmmm?
Should teachers be armed?
The answer is a qualified yes.
Since 1990, there have been, on average, 10 events per year where a gun has been fired at a school, 11 of which resulted in 100 deaths. Preventative measures were in place: counseling, psychiatric drugs and pretending that guns were the problem. (Also, I’m sure there were “gun-free zone” signs posted.) California passed a state ban on assault weapons in 1989. President Clinton implemented a national ban in 1994 (expired in 2004).
And yet, gun firings per se and mass casualty events at schools have increased dramatically. The ‘common sense’ measures of the left did not work.
Obviously, all teachers should not be armed. This is deflection by hyperbole. Those school employees (teachers, coaches, administrators) who already own a hand gun and know how to use it, should be candidates for school marshal training. The local police should run the qualifying/training program and select a few skilled, even-tempered people to become marshals. Regular training should be required, and the marshals should be compensated. The marshals should remain anonymous to all but top school administrators and the police. They should be supplied with a phone for communicating only with the police; a device that would also alert them to a live situation.
A second line of defense
All schools need armed protection. This is the common-sense, peace-through-strength strategy. If schools can afford it, the first choice should be armed school resource officers who have previous police or armed forces experience; one for each entry point. If money is tight, as it is for most school districts, the school marshal strategy should be pursued. The best-protected schools will have both — a two-tiered defense providing a redundant system that will survive a breach.
Most, if not all, government buildings have redundant systems consisting of metal detectors, enforcement officers at the doors and back-up officers inside. All U.S. airports have the same multi-layered systems of protection, including armed air marshals on most planes.
The gun-free zone fallacy
The American Medical Association released a document, after their annual meeting this month, titled “Common-sense Policies to Prevent Gun Violence.” The first common-sense recommendation was to “advocate for schools as gun free zones.”
This is fantasyland.
A child touches a hot stove once and never again, yet we keep going back to the same failed policies and ideologies — no matter how many times we get burned.
That is the definition of insanity.
The fact is: Schools, that do not have metal detectors screening all incoming students quite likely have guns on campus already. Another very troubling fact is that many students know about it and say nothing.
There will be 10 Shootings this coming school year
The clock is ticking. The root causes are known yet ineffectively addressed. Our elected officials’ focus is on gun control, which history has already proven does not work.
Roy A. Johnston, Ph.D., is a retired business executive and university professor.
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