It happens like clock work after every mass shooting, the clamor for gun control. The media used to wait a couple days after a mass shooting, but now the bodies have not finished bleeding and the call for gun control is already on the little screen. Let’s look at that for a second and then let’s talk about school safety.
The AR15 ban of the 90’s did not prevent, or stop Columbine in 1999 ( ban started 1994, ended 2004). The mass shooting that every copy cat attempts to emulate was carried out in the heart of the Clinton administration’s “Assault Rifle ban”. If the Uvalde shooter did not have an AR15 available to him, what would kept him from obtaining a Glock 17, or 2 in the style of the VA Tech Shooter, or a Mini 14? The VA Tech shooter largely used 10 round magazines as well, and with a little practice the most basic of my trainees can change magazines in a few seconds. What’s to prevent a shooter from using a revolver, if semi autos are no longer available? Using speed loaders I demonstrate the old FBI revolver load in class once a month, and can generally reload my revolver in 2 seconds. That’s using speed loaders, and not moon clips. However, using a “NY Reload”, I can bring my second gun online in half that time. This is why the argument for banning AR15s is just a political stunt. If my favorite hammer is not available to me in the garage when I need it, I simply get my smaller hammer, or a ax with a hammer on it (assault hammer). The rifle is simply a tool, and raising the age to 21 does nothing to protect our children in school. These killers have already decided to break the law, why would they think twice about breaking another law to get what they want?
What does? What does protect our children in school? While I’m no school security expert, I have some security knowledge, and I’ve instructed several school districts on firearms usage. The Basic Security model starts with a hardened “inner ring”. Think of this as the school building (ring 1) – a secured entry point that during school hours allows students in, or out. If there are multiple entrances, they have to be secured entry points. Allow students to badge in, business has been using secured entry points for several decades. Lost or stolen badges need to be reported and disarmed daily, if not twice a day. Within the building entire wings should have the facility to secure remotely, and each classroom equipped with a mechanism to lock the doors, that teachers can initiate, or over-ride.
But that’s just the inner ring. The building itself needs to have an additional ring around it and many schools already do – it’s a fence (ring 2). That fence is usually not tall enough, nor do the schools monitor fence climbers, or put cameras on those fences. The current fences are not meant to keep evil out as much as keep youngsters in and out of the road. The application of the proper fence needs to change – keep evil out. What about parking lots? Open parking lots invite people in for easy access. The thought needs to change a bit, push the drive ways to the parking lots further out. Do not have parking lots with direct access to city roads. Easy access for people that have a right, or need to be there, but not for everyone (ring 3). Again secure parking lots with fences, and put a gate that users must use a badge to get in (each child and family to be issued a badge to allow them access revoked each spring as school lets out). The gate, or entry point, must be able to prevent an auto from easily rolling in to the front of the building – the tried and true Parking lot “Teeth” as I used to call them must have an application here.
The final ring is actually more like a core inside the building, the staff (core 1). Ideally a School Resource Officer will have a location that is centrally located in the school. Ideally, volunteers within the school (teachers and staff) will also certify to the levels each state sets for armed security. This SRO and Staff must learn how to work together, communicate and move as a team, and this takes effort. Staff that don’t want to be part of an armed response need to be trained as a medical responders. In most mass casualty shootings, more victims bleed out from wounds sustained than are killed outright from gunshots. Lastly a guard should be positioned near the entry of the furthest outer ring – at the edge of the parking lot or driveway.
The challenge to these ideas is how to keep the school from looking like a prison, but I’ll leave that to the architects and engineers to design. If student safety is really what the movement is about, these steps while expensive, preserve rights guaranteed by our constitution, and provide a more secure environment to learn in. Most school districts have an adversarial relationship with Law Enforcement, and that needs to change as well. Cooperation between the agencies is needed, if you want to further the security, the drug sniffing dogs should be allowed to train on school grounds randomly weekly, then monthly – during school hours. The dealers will learn to leave their shit at home, and hopefully the violence that accompanies drugs is also left at home. While public education is a right to those kids that take advantage of it, the right to prevent other students from trying their best does not exist. Disruptive students should have an alternate path to education, and our attitudes toward those needs to change as well.
In summary, while many schools are taking small steps in the right direction, most don’t go far enough. I’ve outlined some fairly easy ways to implement better security from an outside threat. Harden the building, remove easy access to the grounds and parking lots, training volunteer staff. Gun control only seeks to burden the law abiding and a disingenuous argument for school safety.