The American public and media deal with tragic and highly publicized school shootings on a regular basis. Understandably, each episode leaves our nation gripped in despair and searching for answers. In search for solutions, we often rekindle the ageless political debate about gun rights that’s hard to resolve. As a result, instead of seeking practical solutions to reduce school shootings now, we often focus on a gun debate that goes on and on.
Regardless of how one thinks about guns, America’s 2nd Amendment makes it clear that Americans have a right to bear arms. This fact alone will make it hard to get the comprehensive gun control some wish for. Also, since some countries with strict gun laws have had horrible shootings, there’s no guarantee that gun laws alone will eliminate threats to our children.
Practical solutions to school shootings come in many forms. And yes, none of these ideas are perfect. As history and day-to-day life show, humans have a creative ability to find loopholes when it comes to being violent.
A viable solution that’s actually being put in practice somewhat is to have police in schools. Although this isn’t perfect, it’s already been successful at times in minimizing violence. Whether the police are stationed at school as resource officers, or as police stationed at the school, the fact remains that having several police at every school could give potential shooters less time to act. If a strong police presence would be combined with minimizing school entry points, school safety should improve. In addition, some schools have had success in using metal detectors to find guns. Therefore, a trained police presence could not only interrupt a shooting, it may also deter.
Another way to improve school safety is to redesign classrooms to allow for at least two doors in every class. Too often, a killer in a school shooting is able to hold a classroom hostage since there’s only one doorway and no escape. Having two or more doors would allow an escape for students and give multiple points of entry to interrupt a shooting.
And finally, there needs to be thought in our high-tech world of designing classrooms with security alerts in mind. Would it be possible to have a button located on each desk that a student or teacher could press in case a school shooter were to appear? This button could send an immediate 911 message to police and staff located at the school in addition to the EMS system as a whole. This alert could give an exact location and save lives by making response times quicker. Other proposals include gun training for teachers who show aptitude with gun safety, and improving intervention with students that show mental health issues.
As for reaching consensus on gun control that both sides could agree on, that may be a long way off. After all, even when Democrats have had political power they’ve shown reluctance to advance a strong gun control agenda. And if comprehensive gun control is ever passed, the full effects of it may take a while to be felt. Therefore, it may be wise to consider concrete solutions to make our schools and children safer now.
America is at a crossroads regarding school shootings. Therefore, the time may be right to advocate a federal program to upgrade safety at all schools. Although such a program would come at a financial cost, this burden could be eased by our use of Keynesian economics.
As opposed to the endless partisan debate about gun rights, a proposal to make schools safer now should generate bipartisan support. After all, a national plan to protect students and reduce shootings could help schools focus on what they should be…a place to learn.