Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gun Violence + Schools = ?

Yesterday, a lone gunman armed with three weapons went into a school in Connecticut killing 20 children and 6 adults. This is a somber time for the nation, a time for us to ask "why", also a time for us to ask "can we do better?"

No doubt, there will be a huge storm of far left liberals using this tragedy as fodder for their cries to make all guns illegal. I count myself as a member of the center, subscribing to ideologies presented by both sides of the political spectrum, but I do not believe it was the gun's fault for this tragedy.

Pardon my brief moment of heartlessness, but the weapons functioned exactly as they were supposed to. Upon the increase of pressure upon the trigger, the weapon activated a hammer that drew back and struck the ignition cap of the bullet. The bullet's explosive charge ignited, launching the bullet and the barrel of the weapon guided the bullet out in a straight line. However, what each of the weapons had NO control over, was where they were pointed or whom they were pointed at. I want to be VERY technical here with word choice: Guns aren't DESIGNED to kill, they are DESIGNED to fire projectiles at high velocity in a single direction with accuracy. Guns' primary USE is to kill or wound people.

That being said, we now get to the question "Why?"

I do not know why this man did what he did. I do not like it, not one bit. What I do know is he demonstrated something, that schools are not fortresses and we have limitations to how far we are able to protect.

This is not a bad thing to know, it gives us the ability to evaluate our current ability and to learn from it. I do not mean to say the ends justify the means, but we must learn from this tragedy.

The next question "can we do better?" is a complicated question pulling at many pieces of our lives. I personally believe there should be a psych evaluation for first time gun buyers and ANYONE purchasing a weapon (be it the first or four thousandth) have a record check done for any kind of behavior demonstrating mental instability. I do not wish to deny people their second amendment rights, but we must make a better effort stop those whom are highly likely to abuse this right. I also must ask those opponents of the 3 day waiting period "what is so important that you absolutely HAVE to have a gun RIGHT THIS SECOND?"

I mentioned earlier that schools are not fortresses. They should not be. As of 2010, there are 67,140 elementary schools in the United States. Not all of them can afford the security measures we'd like, not all of them are in high risk areas. Some of these schools have daily incidents of children bringing weapons to school but never make the news because they're in impoverished areas when such things are the norm.

There are a few simple steps we can take to make schools safer. First, replace any glass doors with solid doors. In the time I've worked for schools, I have noticed many elementary schools have all doors made of glass, secondary schools have fewer doors made of glass, but only by a small margin. Second, classrooms with glass viewing windows in the doors should be replaced with smaller windows placed far enough away from the door handle that someone can't break the window and reach in for the door handle. Third, elementary schools have large playgrounds (which is good for the kids), but these playgrounds are fenced with simple waist high chain link fences. Replace these with 6-8ft stone/brick walls, this prevents someone from doing a drive by, makes general access tougher, and has the added bonus of preventing the pedophiles from coming by and watching or taking pictures.

Those three things are obscenely expensive, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do that for each school in the US, so what's a more practical solution? Just keep your eyes open for suspicious behavior. Everyone is so burred in their own worlds they seldom look up from their phones of turn off the mp3 players. If we were to just pay attention to the world around us, we'd be able to prevent a lot of the tragedies we see on the news.

This holiday season has been marred by horrible events. Please take some time out of your own plans to talk to your neighbors, get to know your community, do a random act of great kindness because sometimes, these little things, these insignificant actions mean the difference between someone committing suicide or deciding life is worth living, helping a neighbor in extreme poverty may prevent them from robbing a store just to buy their kid a Christmas present. We call this the season of peace on Earth and good will towards our fellows, then lets do it and make it count. There are 26 fewer of us tonight, lets make something good happen in their memory.