The issue of security in our schools has once again come up in the national political conversation, as has debate over gun control legislation. And rightfully so, as the safety and well-being of America’s students, and people in general, is always of the utmost concern. The spectre of gun violence and mass shooting after mass shooting has haunted the American public and the American student for far too long. These, like many other topics, have no simple and direct solutions, there are many common sense steps that can be taken to prevent tragedies like those in Parkland and Newtown.
There is an abhorrent amount of gun violence in this country. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world. This is further confirmed by a study by the OECD, which shows that gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the United States than in other high-income nations. This can be attributed to the fact that the process of getting a gun in this country is too simple and too quick, foregoing practical and important precautionary measures. Background checks in many states are not thorough enough, and in some places they aren’t even necessary. Some of the weapons being sold to individuals are of ridiculous strength, particularly given the reasons individuals provide for owning firearms in the first place. The restrictions on people that are able to get guns are also incredibly lax, seeing as though individuals on the no-fly list are among those who still have the ability to purchase them and some states allow people below the age of 21 to purchase weapons.
There are some practical solutions that can be readily implemented across the country to curtail violence caused by firearms, which comes not only in the form of school shootings, but also in murders and suicides. Among those are the following:
- The minimum age to buy a firearm should be 21 across the country, so as to prevent those that are too young (and possibly more likely to act on a whim or with ill temperament) from getting access to weapons.
- A thorough ban on assault weapons should be passed by Congress. Assault weapons have no purpose other than to kill, and they should he reserved for military, not civilian, use. And to those that claim that weapons bans can be circumvented by making new ones: laws ought to be made, then enforced. Any step is a step forward, and those can continue to be added upon as new problems arise.
- The process of getting a weapon should become even more stringent. Waiting periods should be extended and background checks should be made more thorough to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands. Psychological screenings should also be expanded upon to ensure that those who are mentally ill or unstable are not given access to weapons.
- Security in schools should be increased through practical means, including limiting points of entry and increasing surveillance, and cooperation with local law enforcement to ensure students’ safety is vital.
On another note, the prospect of arming teachers is ridiculous. Teachers are not members of law enforcement, and arming them can add to the chaos of a dangerous situation. In the event of a shooting, teachers might accidentally injure or kill their own students, other students, and even first responders and the police. They may also be mistakenly identified as dangerous simply because they possess a weapon. So this is, to put it bluntly, a terribly stupid idea.
Students and adults alike are horrified by the events at Parkland. Hopefully our elected officials can take the actions necessary for preventing similar incidents in the future.