School Shootings; A Parent’s Perspective
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 14, 2018
This is a perspective from a parent of TWO elementary school teachers.
It was only a matter of minutes after the Florida high school shooting before some politicians started the cry for gun control. This Nugget is NOT about gun ownership but rather some basic suggestions as to what schools “could” do to protect the students, the teachers and the school administrators from shootings that may occur.
I was impressed that several of the students interviewed immediately after the most recent school shooting in Florida said there were several teachers that made presentations to all the classrooms in recent weeks to explain the procedures to be taken if or when there is an “active shooter” situation.
There needs to be some procedure in place to insure everyone is aware of the difference between a fire drill with the emphasis on the word “drill”, and a REAL FIRE or something like this ACTIVE SHOOTER situation. Today I heard one interview where a man (unknown) said that in his area students are told to stay put in their classrooms when the fire alarm sounds. Then and only then do they leave when they are directed to do so by School Administrators. That would have prevented the type of shooting that took place in Florida from being as bad as it was when all the students evacuated into the hallways.
Every classroom door of every school in America should be required to lock when a class begins and no one would be permitted entrance to the class once the door is locked without the specific permission of the class teacher. It is too late to start locking doors AFTER the shooting begins and there is no reason the doors can’t be locked ahead of time. In time, schools could and should be outfitted with doors that can be locked from a central location much like hotel doors leading to elevators can be automatically closed to prevent people from using elevators during a fire.
Every teacher and school administrator should be fitted with an electronic device much like the devices you see advertised on television for senior citizens. These devices are buttons they wear as a necklace or on their wrist that they can push and in just a second someone is notified that that the senior citizen is in need of help and exactly where the person is. There is no reason why a similar technology can’t be created for the purpose of having teachers and school administrators being able to push a button they wear and in a matter of seconds and the appropriate officials would be notified of an emergency situation in a classroom/school. These devices should be required to be pressed TWICE as that should prevent accidental activation.
A school can have as many exits as necessary to evacuate the building or buildings but the entrance to the buildings should be restricted to a select few just like in movie theaters and other public buildings. All exists should be appropriately marked as FIRE EXIT, but people cannot usually enter through a designated Fire Exit and schools should be the same.
Every school should have video surveillance of entrances to all school offices and school hallways. This won’t prevent shootings from occurring but may help to identify a shooter and it may act as a deterrent for people considering criminal activities.
Schools should hire School Marshals like airlines hire Sky Marshals. You would not need a Marshal at every school but if a shooter had no idea whether there were School Marshals on scene at a targeted school or not, it may act as a deterrent out of fear of being opposed by an armed School Marshal that “might” be in the school. I would think that retired military and police officers would welcome such duty. Schools should be marked as having armed security on the premise also as a deterrent.
The Florida shooter was expelled from the school. It is my understanding that prior to that, he was suspended showing a trend of discipline issues. It was obvious to me that any student expelled from any school should be reported to the local authorities with a complete report of not only the incident that triggered the expulsion but all recorded incidents of discipline infractions. Local authorities should then create a database of such individuals and run their records for other incidents involving the same individuals. The Florida incident also suggested that a National Database should be maintained. A report was filed in Mississippi regarding the shooter but there was no connection to Florida and nothing was done with the tip.
Individual freedoms are wonderful and are envied throughout the world. What happens when someone is diagnosed with a mental disorder? Who should be made aware of this person? For example, should this person be allowed to operate a motor vehicle? Should he or she be permitted to purchase and/or own a fire arm? The answers to these questions can only be answered by a qualified physician. BUT when the physician does make that determination, there should be a requirement that the patient be entered into the National Database of individuals that are prohibited from purchasing and/or owning a fire arm. Once that person has been entered into the database, the database should be compared against any database of fire arms owners. When there is a match, the patient should be required to surrender their fire arm(s) to the police ASAP; no exceptions. That does not mean that over time their mental status can’t change but until that day arrives, no fire arm ownership.
As for laws governing and/or restricting ownership of fire arms it seems to me like taking an action that makes everyone feel good while they fully understand the law will make little difference. Laws are passed for people who will abide by them. That by definition excludes criminals as they have total disregard for any law you might want passed. In regards to criminals, I defy anyone to explain how a new gun control law will prevent someone who will do anything to obtain a gun from doing so. Even if the law is successful, criminals bent on creating such chaos as we saw in Florida will find an alternative to fire arms to obtain their desired outcome, like a car, a truck, a bomb, a knife or whatever. Where there is a will, most people will find a way.
Finally, we are taught that when we see something, say something. That goes right out the window if someone takes the personal risk of telling someone like the FBI and then having the FBI seemingly doing nothing about the report. Our law enforcement organizations MUST review their protocols to insure that all leads are not only followed up but the person providing the lead is notified of the result of such follow ups. It’s a two Way Street if you want “the see something, say something” to actually work.