School safety is the answer

Greg Smith, Assistant Opinions Editor

Since the recent mass school shooting, this one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, issues surrounding these awful incidents have remained on the nation’s mind nonstop. Different proposals and courses of action have been suggested as measures to stop such crimes from occurring in the future. All involved in the debate wish to stop the murder of students; no one opinion about the best course of action is morally superior to another.

The recent shootings have been cited by gun control proponents that the legal age to buy a rifle should be raised to 21 or that strict gun control measures, beyond a raised age for legal gun purchases, must be passed. The logic upon which these arguments are based is flawed. The proposals for gun confiscation or stricter control first assume that the government will be perfectly able to control the presence and exchange of firearms should they be made illegal. This would not be the case. There is a lot that is illegal in this country but still highly prevalent at problematic levels (e.g. drugs), which the government cannot hope to ever fully control. What’s more is that those who own, trade, and use drugs are not average law-abiding citizens, they are criminals who, by nature of being criminals, do not care about breaking the law. Banning all guns would take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and leave them with criminals.

Many gun-control proposals are not generalized gun bans though. But acknowledging that the government cannot effectively enforce a general gun ban necessarily means that the government cannot effectively enforce a general “assault weapons” ban. How can the government be better at controlling Glocks than opioids, and even better at controlling AR-15s than Glocks? No, gun control is not the answer, since, in the words of the age-old adage “if you outlaw guns, then only outlaws will own guns.”

The answer to these problems is school security. Had there been a staff of armed guards at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (rather than a single deputy who failed to do his duty), the scale of the massacre would not have been as high, since the shooter could have been stopped. Metal detectors, identity checks, and automatic emergency lockdown systems also could have prevented or lessened the slaughter.

Many also worry about how such measures would affect a school’s environment. But in Callisburg, Texas, the school district already arms certain staff members, and the students actually feel safer from the measures, according to CNN.

Arming currently employed personnel in a community such as ours certainly is not as feasible as in Texas, where gun ownership is much higher. But additional armed staff can be hired to protect schools even in a community such as ours. They would not make the students’ rights or safety more vulnerable; their jobs would likely be to only protect the school from violent threats, not enforce school rules.

These measures may be expensive, but there should not be a price that is too much for us to pay in order to keep our students safe. If we guard our money, our public events, our historical sites,

and our freedom with guns, why should children not also be adequately protected? If education and this country’s youth are our most valuable resources, why are those not protected more than the measures taken to protect our cash?

While mental health certainly is a large part of the issue, school security is more important. Mental health solutions, like all health solutions, are never 100-percent effective, and good school security should, in the event of an attempt at a school shooting, stop anyone from being killed.