A case for making schools safer revisited

I originally published this article on the Examiner back in 2012 shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. While much of the debate afterwards focused on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and banning firearms, someone suggested making schools safer – an approach I was in favor of even if American’s 2nd Amendment rights were taken away. After all, can the bad guys be legally prevented from getting their hands on firearms?

Recently after this most recent mass school shooting in Florida, the same debate has arisen. President Donald J. Trump set off a fire storm when he suggested arming teachers, and the NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre followed up stating that a more sound approach would be greater armed security at schools. Six years later, mental health is working its way into the discussion, but we’re essentially still having the same debate. As with many of my blog posts, the pictures used are courtesy of the Washington Post’s Morning Express.

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In the previous three articles, factors that specifically affected learning were addressed; attitudes, socioeconomics, and environment. In light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on December 21, 2012, this article will focus on thinking about how to create safer schools, and preventing similar tragedies. Admittedly, this is a very complex issue with no simple solution. The intent of this article is to add to a discussion which will likely continue for a very long time.

The majority of discussions in the media have focused strictly on the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms), and gun control. Discussions about making schools themselves more secure have been the minority. Predictably discussions in the social media world erupted in addition to the mainstream media demonizing the NRA and calling for stricter gun control measures. One of many threads on Facebook generated a debate of up to 80 comments about gun control.

On CSPAN the morning of December 18, 2012, a caller recommended to journalist John Fund and the host that a way to make schools more secure would be to set up perimeters and having metal detectors in most schools. Mr. Fund replied that it would be, “too costly and difficult to implement.” Even if that is true, isn’t protecting the lives of innocent children and faculty members worth the cost?

It has been 14 years since the middle school massacre in Jonesboro, Ark., 13 years since the Columbine high school massacre in Littleton, Colo., and 12 years since six-year old Kayla Rolland was shot dead at her school in Mount Morris Township, Mich., by another first grader. Each of these tragedies involved fire arms being brought into schools.

Whether it’s a shooting at a school, a Jewish temple, or in a movie theater, control of guns is clearly a daunting task. While the majority of gun owners are responsible, legislators on Capitol Hill cannot predict when an Adam Lanza, or some other assailant will go on a random or premeditated killing spree. While movie theaters, shopping centers and places of worship are difficult to protect, carefully policing who and what enters an elementary or high school should not be.

Whenever these shootings occur, innocence is further stripped away from everyone, especially from school environments. Our world is not the safe and secure place that it once was even in seemingly secluded suburban areas. Suburban schools may now need to be secured similar to their urban counterparts, and unless appropriate measures are taken, we may continue to see tragedies such as that in Newtown, Conn.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, air travel was forever changed. Because of those events, no one will ever again be able to fly commercially without having to go through stringent security measures. Millions of people fly every day, and it is now considered normal. Similarly, most state and federal government buildings require walking through metal detectors prior to entry for visitors. Isn’t it time to find a similar solution to keep our schools safe?

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Author: anwaryusef

Anwar Y. Dunbar is a Regulatory Scientist. Being a naturally curious person, he is also a student of all things. He earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor’s Degree in General Biology from Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU). Prior to starting the Big Words Blog Site, Anwar published and contributed to numerous research articles in competitive scientific journals reporting on his research from graduate school and postdoctoral years. After falling in love with writing, he contributed to the now defunct Examiner.com, and the Edvocate where he regularly wrote about: Education-related stories/topics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Financial Literacy; as well as conducted interviews with notable individuals such as actor and author Hill Harper. Having many influences, one of his most notable heroes is author, intellectual and speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, author of books including Outliers and David and Goliath. Anwar has his hands in many, many activities. In addition to writing, Anwar actively mentors youth, works to spread awareness of STEM careers, serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium, serves as Treasurer for the JCSU Washington, DC Alumni Chapter, and is active in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Ministry at the Alfred Street Baptist Church. He also tutors in the subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. Along with his multi-talented older brother Amahl Dunbar (designer of the Big Words logos, inventor and a plethora of other things), Anwar is a “Fanboy” and really enjoys Science-Fiction and Superhero movies including but not restricted to Captain America Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Prometheus. He is a proud native of Buffalo, NY.