After days of bitter hurt, anger, deep savage argument, and plenty of non-thinking social media trolls blurting whatever comes to mind through their thumbs, it’s time we as Americans begin a genuine discussion about how to stop the next school shooting from occurring.
It’s important that we do this even though gun deaths are by no means the most dangerous form of death in America today.
In 2017, with 300,000,000-plus guns in the hands of Americans, there were 15,549 gun deaths. This ranks less than half the number of automobile deaths even though there are fewer cars in existence than guns. In 2017, there were 253,000,000 cars in existence and 41,000 auto deaths.
Nonetheless, the rhetoric is so loud and the anger so tightly wound that a way forward needs to begin. Genuinely good people on both sides of this issue disagree. Pro-gun people believe that owning a gun is one step of many in helping to keep their families safe and their government from becoming too tyrannical. Anti-gun people believe that the mere existence of a gun is a danger to all. But note that both sets of people desire safety in general.
With very little expertise, but with a robust research ability, my staff and I began looking at this issue this week from the perspective of what could be done that would be tangible, but also acceptable to both sides of the discussion. Here’s seven simple steps that can and should be implemented overnight across the country and in similar fashion school shootings would be eliminated. This list is not exhaustive but is a starting point where good-willed people can come together to make a significant difference now.
1. Metal Detectors In Every School: This maintains such common sense it's impossible to believe that it doesn’t already happen. This is a bigger failure in the era of post-Columbine than the popularity of the AR-15. How do the largest schools in our nation (Stoneman Douglas is one of the largest at over 3,000 students) not have access points controlled through a metal detector daily? Our courts, government buildings, airports, sports stadiums, conventions, and plenty of other public gatherings demand them.
2. Enforce Everything: Oddly those calling for more laws to be added to the already overly tufted books of law regarding firearms may not realize just how many laws already exist. Simple enforcement of existing laws would cut down on uncounted numbers of people owning guns, possessing guns, and utilizing guns. This is particularly true in the area of those with mental health issues. Begin doing what laws already state must be done, and do so like our children’s lives depend on it.
3. Perform Active Shooter Drills: In many school districts in the nation earthquake drills are performed. No children have died in earthquakes at an American school in years but the drills go forward. “Sequester and Hide” (and then get your cell phone out and begin "facebook-LIVE-ing”) should be replaced with “Barricade, Attack, & Survive.” Young people should be aware of how quickly they can move a teacher’s desk and their own to protect against a shooter. These should be practiced and drilled at minimum in comparison to earthquake drills.
4. Reinforce Doors, Windows, Buses, Locks: Though these things left to themselves were installed and still did not stop the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, they are able to stop some of the carnage. At the Stoneman Douglas high school, the shooter attempted to shoot through the reinforced glass of the classrooms in an attempt to shoot victims outside the building, but was unable to because of the technology of the glass. That piece of hardened, thickened glass saved lives.
5. Recruit Retired Military & Law Enforcement: The number of qualified public safety professionals that live in our communities is surprising. These friends and neighbors have already received certification and weapons training. Most of them (unless they become criminals) are already allowed to own, possess, and carry firearms. Having them operate the access points at all schools, check every backpack and bag carried onto the premises, and engage every threat be it a firearm, a pocketknife or any other form of contraband — would not only ensure a safer school campus, but also a more rule following, law abiding one. Drugs, porn, and other forms of disruptive materials would be filtered out of the school campus environment on the threat of being discovered every day by the school security professional.
6. Arm All Appropriate Personnel: Giving teachers, coaches, and administrators (only the ones who wish to) the right to protect themselves on campus is a backstop to all other methods. But it is a genuine deterrent nonetheless. If only 5-10% of staff were also armed, certified, and properly trained, there would be no threat that first got through the detectors, security professionals, and the hallways that would still be allowed complete and utter access to the student body. Instead of a coach taking bullets, giving up his life to protect his students, numbers of teachers and coaches would be ready to confront any threat that made it to their area of the campus.
7. Publicize Consequence: The mere knowledge of this list of obstacles to any attacker may not completely dissuade them. But since it was readily apparent that this list of steps would have actually saved some if not all of the lives in Florida this week, one thing can be easily understood. Any individual who decides to try something under these guidelines runs a much larger threat of being caught, captured, and killed if he tries it. So talk about it openly. Do the drills, teach the kids to fight for their own survival, tell the predators in advance that if they choose to attack a school it is open war on them, and before they ever have the chance to enter the facility the daunting challenge they will face will likely be a price too steep for them to be willing to pay.
Israel has already put some of these steps into practice and the nation has seen almost zero school attacks since adopting them.
None of these steps infringe upon law-abiding people’s Second Amendment rights.
All of these steps attempt to stop and engage mentally ill or deliberately belligerent attackers.
This list would make an immediate impact on every school that adopts them.
No common sense American can deny their effectiveness.
Our kids are worth it!