Single Focus on Education

Single Focus on Schools

Education security should not be a political issue, but it is. Evaluating legislators’ thought process is not only interesting, but also reveals that proactive measures need to be taken in school settings. Legislators are focusing on guns. School officials are revisiting facility security, applications and solutions, including armed security professionals.

All of this attention comes on the heels of the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 young students and six staff members. You’ve all read the news accounts, and I don’t need to rehash the grizzly details, but since that time, U.S. congress members have introduced legislation to strengthen school security. Some of the uproar for solutions stems from the National Rifle Association’s similar response.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced new legislation to increase safety at schools by providing state and local officials with new resources and tools to help secure campuses and protect students. The School Safety Enhancements Act is expected to strengthen and expand the Justice Department’s existing COPS Secure Our Schools program. Her idea is to give schools the resources to install tip lines, surveillance equipment and secured entrances.

The COPS program currently requires a local 50 percent match, but this bill would allow the Justice Department to reduce the local share to only a 20 percent match. And with Boxer’s second piece of legislation, the Save Our Students Act, the federal government would reimburse governors who want to use National Guard troops to ensure that schools are safe. However, the last time National Guard troops were used on a campus, things took a decidedly different approach. Think of Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Four students were killed by deployed troops; nine other students were injured.

The Sandy Hook school massacre was disturbing, to say the least. The fact that so many children were gunned down by a madman brought many gun control proponents out of the woodwork, who demanded that the National Rifle Association respond. The NRA, however, did not comment for a week out of respect for those slain. While some have tried to exploit this tragedy for political gain, the NRA waited.

“Now, we must speak,” said Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president. “Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, not one—nobody— has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: how do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?”

In this country, we love our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. Airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses and even sports venues are protected with armed security. Shouldn’t we protect our children even more?

Some would like more laws banning guns. In fact, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she would introduce a bill stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of assault weapons, including large ammunition magazines, strips and drums that hold more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein’s cause is just, I suppose, but reminds me of a bumper sticker seen many years ago: “When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”

The problem isn’t with guns, so says Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson, a staunch Obama supporter. “I don’t think it’s about more gun control,” Jackson said. “I grew up in the south with guns everywhere, and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.”

The truth is, there are monsters in our society. Adam Lanza was a monster, and there are others just like him roaming the streets of our nation. They are copycat killers, influenced by this act and others.

Two days following the Sandy Hook school massacre, a gunman went inside a San Antonio restaurant with murderous intent. The event was not publicized because the gunman was met with a well-armed, trained security professional.

On Dec. 17, 2012, Jesus Manuel Garcia, 19, used a gun to settle a dispute. As he started shooting, employees at the restaurant scattered, some fleeing to a nearby theater. Garcia followed them inside and continued his search-and-kill mission, but it didn’t last long.

Off-duty Bexer County, Texas Sheriff’s Department officer Sgt. Lisa Castellano ran to the scene. When she arrived, Garcia was coming out of a theater restroom. Castellano then ordered him to drop the gun. When he displayed the firearm, she fired, striking Garcia four times. Two days later, she was awarded a Medal of Valor for her efforts in stopping the gunman.

Who then, will stop the violence in our schools? Legislators are a pitiful example of problem-solving, especially one like school violence. They have an agenda, which typically brings us to a craggy, last minute precipice. Violence is ever present. By the time a child is 18 years of age, they have witnessed 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence through various mediums. That same media must stand and be held accountable, rather than remaining silent enablers.

These are our children. It’s not just our duty to protect them, but our right. Would one trained armed security officer have been able to protect 26 innocents in Sandy Hook? Yes, I think so.

This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Security Today.

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