Single Focus on Schools
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Feb 01, 2013
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
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
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.