Some look at the unspeakable carnage of Sandy Hook Elementary School and say “why”?
Others say “Cowboy up!”
In 1999, the year of the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, Heath E. Morrison was a middle school principal in Maryland, shocked by what he and his colleagues saw as a terrible but unique episode. “There was this intense desire not to overreact,” said Mr. Morrison, who is now superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina.
Since then, Mr. Morrison has come to view schools as much more dangerous places. In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings last week, he finds himself contemplating heightened measures to protect students, including increasing the number of security officers in schools who carry their own guns.
“We are a country that has too much violence and too many ways to have people hurt or killed and not enough access to mental health services,” Mr. Morrison said. “So if there was an ability to put an armed security officer in every school, I would have to seriously consider it.”
I’ve felt this way for more than ten years. That we send our most precious and vulnerable loved ones to congregate under one roof, watched over by well-meaning but unarmed and untrained adults, is unconscionable when you think about it. This kind of act may have happened only once, but once is unimaginable. And lesser crimes have occurred often enough to have warned us.
Obama is mobilizing on gun control, and there may be reasonable steps to take. But people in the schools are looking for a more “shovel ready” response—and they don’t mean shovels.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg already stations armed security guards at the district’s 28 high schools, though not at its 88 elementary schools. Across the country, some 23,200 schools — about one-third of all public schools — had armed security staff in the 2009-10 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.
Now, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, school officials across the nation are reviewing security protocols, including lockdown drills and building entry procedures, but also whether to hire more armed guards.
Sandy Hook could have had an armed guard. It would have been in the minority (a fairly sizable minority), but it would have been protected that day. Who’s to say what the result would have been, but it wouldn’t have been worse.