Welcome to Retroman40's World!

Guns In Schools

Let’s get something straight right off the bat – events like the recent school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and other similar happenings are absolutely tragic events that frankly overwhelm most people because the mere thought of such actions is reprehensible to any normal human being.  The problem with this type of event however is that we are not dealing with a normal person; we are dealing with someone who is very ill.  How can I be so certain that Adam Lanza was seriously mentally ill?  “Normal” people don’t kill their mother and then go to a school and kill 26 people.  Sadly we will never find out exactly what his illness was nor will he be held accountable for his actions.

These events are what can be considered “low probability, high consequence” type events; in this case extremely high consequence.  I know that definition sounds rather cold but the truth often is.  The aftermath is very predictable, that is that there are all kinds of calls to action (in this case) to “improve school safety.”  I am not going to call the front man for the National Rifle Association crazy or any other name for his proposals regarding the need for more guns in schools.  I vehemently disagree with him and feel he and those who support the position are terribly wrong; however he has the right to his opinion just as I do.  When people resort to name calling they lose all credibility with me as well as with most thoughtful people.  Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

 There currently are several proposals on regarding the need for more guns in schools being floated around.  I believe that in all cases they are either ill-advised or simply will not achieve the desired result.  Of course, in the US we love a “quick fix”; we don’t care about the underlying condition, we just want to say we’ve done something.  Basically we want some instant gratification regardless of the cost.   I will address the proposals in order of just how ill-advised I believe them to be.

The most ill-advised proposal is to have some cadre of “trained, armed volunteers” providing security at schools.  There is so much wrong with this that I really don’t know where to start.  I guess a good question would be how do you qualify these volunteers (training, background checks, etc.)?  Secondly, what is their exact role to be?  Here’s my suggestion to anyone who’d like to volunteer for this duty:   If you really want to help, leave your gear at home and try being a volunteer helping students that have fallen behind with skills like math and reading.  I can tell you from experience that it isn’t very glamorous to try and explain direct and indirect variation to a 15 year old student or maybe helping a 9 year old that has fallen behind in reading comprehension.   It can be very frustrating actually, but the satisfaction of helping a kid more than makes up for the frustration.   I guess “gearing up” like some kind of wannabe is a lot sexier for sure.  Here’s the thing; every year we lose thousands to dropping out.  Keeping these kids in school should be the absolute highest of priority.

The idea of arming teachers and staff at schools is just slightly less ill-advised.  Hiring “professional”  armed security guards to roam the halls isn’t much better.  Hollywood rules don’t apply in real life; bad guys do hit their targets and good guys do miss!  It’s almost criminal that people want to spend all kinds of money on security theatre at schools but don’t want to invest the proper amount on education itself.  Instead of hiring useless security guards how about hiring additional educators and instead of spending a fortune on security in an attempt to “harden the target”, how about we buy some modern equipment for the kids?

Just as an aside – if the staff or guards inside the school are armed, anyone with the notion to perform a nefarious act doesn’t have to “sneak” a weapon into the school; they are already there.  In case you haven’t been in a school lately or maybe forgot, the “inmates” far outnumber the “guards”. 

What about teachers and staff who for whatever reason don’t want to carry a weapon?  Are we going to make this a requirement to be a teacher?  Will we create two “classes” within the school?  What if a teacher simply can’t “qualify” to carry a weapon (you know some people really can’t hit the broad side of a barn)?  Will that be considered grounds for dismissal?   We don’t want to spend money on training teachers in the best teaching methods but we want to send them off for small arms instruction.  We have some twisted priorities.

The final idea (and the only one that carries no particular downside other than cost) is having some sort of a “resource officer” in every school.   I support the concept (with certain reservations) due to some good experiences with a resource officer while we lived in Manassas, VA.  Personally I'm not totally sold that it will significantly improve security, however any improvement is good.  Schools are simply too big for one person to effectively patrol the entire campus.   My only serious concern about having regular police presence in a school is that weaker administrators tend to lean on the police to handle situations that really shouldn’t involve law enforcement.   While this is certainly not the case here in Spencer County, particularly at the high school where we have a very strong administation, my opinion is more of a global nature.

Click here to see a verbatim transcript of my comments regarding the topic to the Spencer County School Board at their regular monthly meeting on February 25, 2013.

Schools in just about every case can be considered (extremely) “soft” targets.  Let’s face it, you have a building with hundreds if not thousands of students coming and going; any parent or guardian can be considered to have “legitimate” business at the building.  Schools have large numbers of doors.  Schools generally don’t have much in the way of perimeter defenses.  Often times their property is surrounded by residential neighborhoods or by busy streets or some combination of both.  We put large numbers of students together in cafeterias and at sporting events, concerts and other school activities.  When they are not together they are compartmentalized in small rooms.

It amazes me that people who don’t want to spend a dime on real education are willing to spend a small fortune on what can only be described as “security theatre”. 

Should we get into profiling?  A kid wearing black clothing or a long coat is not even a remote threat in itself.

I don’t want to get into a debate about firearm ownership.  You will probably never meet a stronger defender of the U. S. Constitution.   I am a staunch supporter of the second amendment.   The overwhelming vast majority of firearms owners treat their ownership of firearms as a great responsibility.  Unfortunately, any moves to restrict (or should I say infringe) on their rights will only punish the law abiding for the sins of a very few.  By definition criminals really don’t care about the law.

The first thing that needs to change is how we treat the mentally ill.  As a society we don’t want to spend a dime to treat them, but at the same time will gladly build prisons to house them after we criminalize their behavior.  We are an incredibly short sighted society in the United States.  Most of us only care about things that directly impact us and maybe our families.

It can’t happen (here) (to me) etc. is a common belief whether it is getting pregnant or getting in a drunk driving accident.

We tend to deny things we don’t understand even exist; climate change is an excellent example.

We tend to want to ignore fanatics – even if they are partially correct.  The problem here is that many fanatics are also hypocrites. (Al Gore comes to mind with his electric guzzling mansion in Tennessee).

Like with most things, the country is polarized.  It’s like watching the northbound and southbound Zax for Dr. Seuss.  They won’t budge.

Question for parents – do you really want your child’s school to resemble a top secret military base.  Kids already compare school to prison; do you want the school to really resemble one?

Reviewed December 24, 2013

Website Builder