I teach high school, but the school is K3 through 12 so we have all grades. Yesterday, a policeman was posted at our entrance in the morning and he's scheduled the rest of this week. I thanked him for his service. It's not a glamorous assignment, but then neither is war, regardless of how the movies portray it. Tonight, at the annual staff Christmas party, the school board president said that something was going to be done to increase security at the school. We already have terrorist attack security plans which we practice, believe it or not. But preventing or hindering an armed attacker from entering the facility hasn't been the focus. Now it is.
President Obama has announced that something must change. To me, that means more difficulty/red tape for the normal people without any real correlation to the problem. If something is going to change for the better, it must be done here, now, in Prattville, AL, not on Capitol Hill in DC. But what and how?
School security is a difficult issue. We don't allow weapons in school, so when someone does get in with arms, the school is defenseless. Some have called for arming teachers, but that is hard to do right. I'm a marksman, having competed at the national level in large bore matches. I know the efforts needed to properly train someone in the use and safety of firearms. Our police academies do it right and officers still make errors with firearms. Can we stand the liability of school staff carrying concealed weapons? Should weapons training be part of the course of study for prospective teachers in college? Interesting concepts.
In the South, guns are prevalent. Hunting is a big sport, especially deer in the fall. Kids of hunters get orientation and practice at an early age so that by high school, most are well-trained on gun use and safety. Many hunt regularly. Some have to pay attention to remove rifles off their pickup truck gun racks before coming to school. I don't expect that the same culture exists in NYC or Los Angeles. I never saw a deer in Long Beach except at a zoo. My kids in NJ see deer all the time but they aren't hunted. Their cars don't have gun racks.
This all gets back to my earlier comment that if something effective is to be done, it must be done at the local level. What works for inner city Chicago may not work for rural Elmore County, Alabama.
Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.