The nation has seen yet another tragic mass shooting, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. A gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two adults, before being slain by a Border Patrol agent. It was the latest in a long line of attacks perpetrated over the past two decades, and, unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before this happened again. As is typical in these situations, the nation is debating gun laws that would not have stopped this travesty, but real solutions remain elusive.
Over 311,000 students have been victimized by gun violence since the shooting at Columbine High School, according to The Washington Post, which also noted: “While school shootings remain rare, there were more in 2021 — 42 — than in any year since at least 1999. So far this year, there have been at least 24 acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses during the school day.”
Given where the numbers stand today, it is conceivable that this problem will only get worse. More of America’s children could be in peril if we fail to take action.
Each time a catastrophe like this occurs, the country debates the gun issue without giving serious consideration to other measures that might save lives if implemented properly. Now is the time to stop quibbling over gun laws and to consider measures that could actually solve the problem.
America needs to harden its schools. Right now.
During past incidents, there have been discussions of employing stronger security measures in school buildings. This is the direction in which the country should proceed. America’s schools should follow the examples of schools in inner cities that apply a variety of methods to minimize the risk of mass shootings.
For starters, each school should be outfitted with metal detectors. This would ensure that students cannot enter a school building while carrying a firearm or other weapon. Urban areas like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, and others began using these devices in the 1980s and 1990s to protect their students. Security experts have touted these measures as effective ways to make these schools less vulnerable to mass shootings, which occur far more often in suburban and rural areas. There is a reason why we rarely hear about school shootings in urban schools similar to what happened in Uvalde.
Secondly, armed and trained security is a must. Some schools already have armed resource officers on campus. In several cases, these individuals have been instrumental in stopping mass shootings or preventing them from claiming more lives. For example, in March 2018, school resource officer Blaine Gaskill stopped a potential mass shooter from murdering children at Great Mills High School in Maryland. There are plenty of other such stories.
Justin Nazaroff, security expert and CEO of Fenix Ammunition, told RedState, “We don’t see mass shootings happen at stadiums, federal government buildings, courthouses, airports, or any other place” where we have “a single, or very few number of, controlled ingress/egress points actively monitored by VISIBLY armed security, typically with long rifles,” and metal detectors.
Nazaroff lamented the fact that the anti-gun lobby has curtailed discussions that could lead to real solutions to this problem:
“Unfortunately, the gun control movement has prevented subject matter experts in the firearms community from being able to weigh in. Politicians have failed to allocate resources to protect our children while spending endless amounts to protect themselves. The gun community has failed to stand up and speak up for themselves to push for meaningful action on [the suggestions I highlighted.] Most of ‘us’ tuck our tails between our legs and put our heads in the sand waiting for things to blow over instead of demanding that we be listened to.”
One of the most common objections to instituting more security measures is that they do not want their children’s schools to resemble prisons. This is understandable. Nobody would ever want such a thing for their children.
However, as Nazaroff pointed out, most government buildings employ these strategies, and nobody complains. Nobody says they feel like they are in prison. It is par for the course. If we can go to these lengths to protect politicians and government officials, should we not do the same for our children? Why should they be left vulnerable to the actions of a crazed shooter?
Every time a school shooting occurs, the nation grieves. The reality of children losing their lives in a senseless act of violence elicits national calls for action, as it should. Members of the chattering class rush to politicize the matter. In the end, solutions are nowhere to be found. Later, we find ourselves faced with yet another senseless act of violence.
The bottom line is that schools should no longer be soft targets for evil people to exploit. If the government can use armed security and metal detectors to protect its politicians and officials, it can do the same in places where our children spend most of their time. The question is: are we finally ready for this conversation?