Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Stop school shootings with security act

Author: The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board - February 16, 2018 - Updated: February 16, 2018

As kids lay dead in the halls of a Florida school, President Donald Trump tweeted a wish: “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Then fix it, Mr. President. Today, they wisely feel unsafe after the 18th domestic school shooting in just seven weeks.

Unite Congress around a bipartisan federal school safety act that will enhance security standards in all public schools throughout the country. Instruct FEMA, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Education, and hand-picked security experts to devise a plan that will make our schools safe. Direct them to consult with attorneys general and governors from all 50 states.

Be the president who stops this insanity. A country that builds bridges to nowhere and spends $600 billion on Medicaid each year can afford to defend its kids.

After each school shooting, we have a week or two of the same old discussions before moving on and doing nothing. Maybe it’s the guns. Maybe it’s the video games. Maybe it’s mental health. Maybe it’s bullies picking on geeks.

Whatever factors cause these killings, we won’t stop them with anything less than strict new security measures at every public K-12 attendance center.

School shootings are not a negligible threat. At the 2018 rate, we would see 134 more school shootings between today and New Year’s Eve. That’s if the rate doesn’t increase.

Despite the damning statistics, school administrators and elected boards act as if these shootings won’t happen to their kids. Few schools take serious measures to prepare for and prevent active shootings.

While neglecting adequate massacre preparation, schools routinely interrupt classes to prepare students for killer fires that seldom occur. FEMA reports “fatalities resulting from school building fires were rare” in the last study period of 2009-2011.

The National Fire Protection Association reports no school fires with 10 or more deaths since 1958.

By contrast, we lost 17 kids to an armed maniac in a few moments Wednesday. Four school shooters killed 10 or more victims in the infancy of the 21st century alone. School shootings took 35 innocent lives in just the past year and seven weeks. As soft targets, our schools are easy prey for deranged killers.

The suspect in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was a former student who reportedly wandered through the building with a .223 AR-15 military style rifle.

Imagine getting that gun into a court house, hospital, a typical office building, an airport, or any state, county or municipal building. Adults increasingly protect their work environments with metal detectors, X-ray machines, bag searches and limited-access elevators and doors.

Meanwhile, students and others can enter typical school buildings with forbidden items in coats or backpacks that are not properly screened, if scrutinized at all. The Columbine shooters hid rifles in their trench coats before shooting 36, killing 15. We learned nothing. Nearly 20 years later, shooters typically face no serious obstacles to bringing guns into schools.

We can work to improve the culture’s mental health. We can ask for less violent video games and movies. We can try to tame bullies and improve regulation of 300 million guns in private homes. Those are long-term goals that will take generations to achieve.

In the immediate wake of another bloodbath, we had best get serious about security that make it hard to shoot up schools. We need federal standards and immediate action.

As Trump said, “no child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” The president and Congress should make it so. We can’t afford routine mass murders of our kids.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board