Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Are we going to do anything about this?

So, it appears that there has been another school shooting. For the moment, I'll ignore that it occurred on an Indian reservation, with their poverty, poor education, and substance-abuse problems.

Instead, I have to again wonder: Why do we insist that schools be gun-free?

One of the striking articles I read after the Columbine tragedy was that police SWAT teams--in my memory, it was Scottsdale's--consider it a success if only 30 kids are killed in a school-shooting event. If the police can evacuate the rest of a school, and contain the shooters, then they've done the best they can do.

Here's the other thing: This event has 9 dead/14 wounded (at the latest count), and Columbine had 15 dead/20 wounded. What these two events have in common--beyond that they were done in gun-free school zones--is that those responsible were complete amateurs. Why we expect that Beslan-style attack on a school would not result in--well--Beslan-scale casualties, is beyond me. Or--do we just bury our heads deeper in the pillow and hope that it will all somehow just go away?

And yet we still insist that banning guns from schools--for the kids, don't cha' know--will enhance school safety.

Now before anyone begins to think that I'm endorsing arming kids on school grounds--don't even go there.

The whole process of raising a child is about slowly adding freedoms so that you end up with a functioning adult somewhere around the age of 21. A child of...
  • One-can't decide what to wear today.
  • Five-can't decide on what time to go to bed.
  • Ten-can't decide what TV or movies are appropriate.
  • Fifteen-can't drive.
  • Seventeen-can't vote.
  • Twenty-can't drink.

I am in no way implying that children ought to have access to guns while at school (other than potentially through supervised gun-training programs). What I am suggesting is that it is time that we consider arming willing and trained teachers and staff.

Waiting for the SWAT team to arrive is too late. Not that I don't want them to come--I do. But I hope we're beginning to understand that having the tools available to do something--before the professionals arrive--might prevent the scale of the tragedy from being as large as it otherwise might be.

Update I guess I should have predicted this, but on the Today Show, they just finished talking about whether they had metal-detectors or cameras at the school. Does anyone else wonder at the futility of protecting yourself with a metal-detector?

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