Uvalde, Texas is not the first and it won’t be the last. It’s just the most recent.
Well-intentioned but naïve answers have been posited by everyone– politicians, law enforcement, and citizens alike. But are they realistic and workable? Sadly, too many are not.
HIGH TECH ELECTRONIC GADGETS
High tech companies are eagerly advocating their expensive voice recognition, motion detection, facial recognition and other expensive surveillance and detection products. That’s out of the question and almost a joke considering the state of poor schools. Especially in rural areas, where they scrape by on shoestring budgets and can’t even afford building repairs or other necessities.
Arming teachers would not be universally or generally effective. Some teachers are afraid of guns. Others oppose weaponry in principium. Some lack the physical coordination to handle firearms. Let’s face it, some people are just klutzes.
But even if all teachers were philosophically amenable to the use of firearms, that is not the cure-all. Why? Because whether you’re a musician, a circus performer, a S.W.A.T. team member, a firefighter, or whatever, you must practice often and regularly. Getting your license and never practicing again or doing so every other leap year constitutes being unprepared.
Besides, even if you are adept at shooting targets on the firing range, in real life you will be confronted by a moving target. The active shooter will not stand still for you to get a bead on him.
Furthermore, teachers might be caught unaware if a shooter bursts unexpectedly into a classroom. He or she might not have the gun in a readily accessible place.
But even if the teacher got off the first shot and it was deadly, that’s still no guarantee that the invader would not get off one or more shots, even if mortally wounded, and kill people. It happens in real life. All the time. Ask a cop.
Anyhow, who would decide what kind of guns a teacher would carry? The school board? Many of them are too busy peddling pornographic books in the school library, such as in Fairfax County, Virginia. Or they’re occupied pushing sex change operations on little children.
Would there be an annual recertification? And shouldn’t there be a class to educate the teachers on proper gun maintenance, including what lubricants to use, how often, etc.? Who would pay for such instruction? And who would pay for the guns?
HIRING S.R.O.s (SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS)
Armed School Resource Officers cannot be omnipresent. How many should be hired? Would that be based on school square footage? On student population? Where should they be stationed? How many should there be? Who will pay for them? Who can pay for them?
LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
Sometimes they’re like the Keystone Kops, as in the case of the Uvalde, Texas school massacre that cost the lives of 19 little kids and 2 teachers. Other times there aren’t enough of them. Some tiny municipalities have but a solitary policeman.
Some people suggest that school shootings would not happen if there were two-parent families instead of the fractured single-parent homes. But how will that remedy the situation? Nowadays in some homes both parents are drug addicts or otherwise neglectful, irresponsible, or abusive. Is that superior to a responsible single mother or father bringing up children?
In other homes, one of the parents might be physically disabled or terminally ill. There are widows, widowers, divorcés, divorcées. How do you magically convert them into two-parent homes?
Nearly 80% of black children are born out of wedlock. The United States has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households. The 2019 Pew Research Center study of over 130 countries and territories reflects that 23% of American kids under 18 live in a one-parent home. That’s nearly 300% times more than other children around the world. Universal two-parent homes are a pipedream. We must deal with the status quo.
No, none of the above are panaceas or preventatives. They’re good adjuncts, though.
SO WHAT ELSE IS THE ANSWER?
Prevention is the answer. Yes, have in place physical and human deterrents on the school grounds. But the problem starts BEFORE the shooter – be he a current, former or non-member of the student body – begins the murders.
IDENTIFYING LIKELY SHOOTERS
There are signs. There are always signs. Even though some parents, teachers, or others fail to recognize them or remain in denial.
The school children, parents, and teachers need to have a printed policy, identifying troubled or mentally ill children. Of course, not every mentally ill person becomes violent. Most mentally ill people are not violent. And it’s no excuse that the shooter was bullied. Most victims of bullies do not become deranged, violent people.
Some people, regardless of their environment, are sociopaths or psychopaths. They are not mentally ill. They are evil people who get their kicks by hurting others. And some people lose their minds because of taking drugs; but they are to blame. There are enough print, internet, radio and television commercials and other warnings alerting the public to the many negative consequences of taking drugs. Using drugs is a CHOICE.
ESTABLISH ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS
Many local police offer free workshops on how to react to active shooter situations. If your locality doesn’t have this resource yet, contact the police and ask for them to establish such workshops and to do so at the beginning of and the end of every school year. Based on that, hold teacher-moderated monthly active shooter drills in every school.
But that’s not enough. That’s after the fact, almost like starting to build an umbrella factory after it’s started to rain.
There are things you can do BEFORE shootings happen.
IDENTIFY LIKELY SHOOTERS
There need to be screenings. Municipalities and state governments need to disseminate a profile of who are more likely than the average person to act out by killing school children. The profiles exist. The F.B.I. has them. Psychiatrists are knowledgeable about them.
There are hallmarks. Loner- and I don’t mean just introverted kids. There’s introverted and there’s pathologically introverted. Flat affect (expressionless face; no emotional reaction to others’ pain). Preoccupation talking about violence. Drawing bloody scenes. Reading obsessively about crime. Abusing animals. And more.‘
Get your state’s department of behavioral health to print out a list of red flags. Post them in classrooms. Send them to parents. Give them to teachers. Have teachers quiz the children on it once a month or more frequently.
There’s no shame in identifying maladjusted kids who show hallmarks of becoming likely prospects for violence. There are cancer screenings. Screenings for genetic defects. Eye screenings for glaucoma. So psychological screenings are wise, not embarrassing or discriminatory.
Children who seem to meet the aforementioned criteria for violence should mandatorily undergo a complete psychiatric evaluation. If they are diagnosed as likely prospects to offend, put them in a separate school for their scholastic education where they are taught and given therapy by professionals licensed to deal with psychiatric illnesses. Regular teachers are not qualified. Furthermore, it is dangerous for children to have mentally ill children among them and it’s not helping the mentally ill or severely disturbed child to attend school with their normal peers. It’s a disservice to all.
PREVENTION IS THE ANSWER
Enough with the hand-wringing and theorizing. Don’t wait for someone to carry out a school shooting. Take action. Now. Insist that your school district take these preventative measures. Prevention is power!