One of the easiest places to blame is the security measures that Stoneman Douglas took. I think that is a mistake. Do schools have to have security measures? Sure, but those measures are going to be more effective against things like drugs, crimes of passions, and possible custody issues. They are not going to protect schools fully against mass shooters. We also can't go further. We can not and should not have to militarize our schools. If that is the solution to this problem, we have lost.
Let's take Stoneman Douglas as an example. What gets lost with those who say school security failed is that this is a 3,000 student high school with multiple school buildings. The only way to truly secure it would be to lock it down like a military base, and that is just plain harmful to kids. We should not have to do that, and I don't ever want to see that.
When thinking of Stoneman's building, just think of all the things that most security experts would consider a security risk. The building has multiple entry points. It has an open parking lot. It has outdoor space such as courtyards, athletic fields, and breezeways that students move through in large masses. If you are talking real building security, all of those would have to be addressed. The only way to adequately address them would be to lock the building down like a military base, and even then there are no guarantees. Who wants that? Why should we have to do that?
To address the multiple entry points issue, you would have to have all the doors remained locked, and students would not be able to enter or exit through them. That means students would not be able to use all of that great space that many schools have outside. If it's at an elementary school, it means kids won't be able to use the playground. In the high school, students would not be able to use the courtyard. If you still want those and you want you want to be secure, you would have to barb wire the school grounds with armed checkpoints to enter. Do we want that? I know I don't, and I think we have lost if we have to go that route. I also know trying to ensure the teenagers don't open doors and let people in is almost an impossible task.
Well, what if we put metal detectors at the entry points? I was a teacher for several years at a school that had them. You know who was working the metal detectors? Unarmed and untrained teachers. How is that going to prevent a mass shooter? They would just shoot the people working the detector. Well, maybe we could get officers to work the detectors? It might work in a small school, but just think about how many cops that would take at a school like Stoneman Douglas. You would need to be able to get almost 3,000 students through the process in a matter of an hour. That's impossible without a huge force.
What if we eliminated some of the flaws of the physical building? That's almost impossible as well. There are hundreds of school buildings in this country that were built decades ago. They wern't built with school security in mind. They have multiple doors; they have big bay windows, and they have areas that would be nearly impossible to completely secure. In the long run, securing all of that may not even matter anyway. The Sandy Hook shooter shot out the glass to enter the building. We would have even have to go as far as having bullet-proof glass in our schools.
If we can't truly secure the physical campus, it must come down to the people, right? While I do not disagree that the people can do so much, however, there is blame being passed around that is incredibly misplaced. There are also solutions related to people that could have negative effects if they are actually implemented.
Please DO NOT blame Stoneman's staff in any way for failure in security procedures. Based on news reports this school did everything it could and went above and beyond what most schools in the country do. This school had active shooter training. It had school security and resource officers. Even with those measures, people still died. No death in our schools is acceptable.
I can only imagine how much pain and guilt those who are responsible for school security at that school feel. They shouldn't. One security guard, Mr. Feis, actually passed in the shooting protecting students. The resource officers were elsewhere on the massive campus that is Stoneman. By the time they could respond, the shooter had left. Even if they were able to respond with weapons, the shooter would have still taken lives. All deaths are unacceptable.
Some would say the way to fix that is have more individuals in the building who are armed. Some would even say arm the teachers. Frankly, that is one of the dumbest arguments I have ever heard. To start, someone who is mentally disturbed enough to start a school shooting is not going to be deterred by knowing others have weapons. The shooter in Florida wasn't, and he knew there were armed resource officers in that building.
But, what if teachers had weapons, they could have stopped him right? No just no. By the time a teacher realizes what is going on in that kind of chaos and has time to pull a weapon, the shooter has already killed people. No death should be acceptable.
Above all, who says a teacher should even have to do that? WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO ASK TEACHERS TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES IN A FIREFIGHT. Cops and soldiers sign up for the job knowing that it is a possibility. Protecting citizens from evil is their main job. Asking someone to do two of the hardest jobs in the world (teaching and law enforcement) is next to impossible. We currently have a major teacher shortage in this country, and if teachers have to continue to make life and death choices that shortage will only grow. Who would want to be part of this profession if that is a choice that needs to be made?
As the debate on what to do about this rages on, don't fall into the trap of blaming school security protocols for it. Could actions have been taken to improve them? Probably, but it does not in any way prevent this shooter from taking at least one life. One life should always be unacceptable. We need to have a deeper discussion about how to prevent a shooter from ever getting to the point of making that choice.
Even if you are a second amendment advocate, we have to find common ground on how to prevent shooters from ever getting to the point of making that choice. Militarizing schools is not that. It's saying that school shooters are inevitable and all we can do is be on the defensive. If that's our mindset, it's going to continue to happen, and things could be much worse than they are now.
Remember, this is a unique problem to our country. It does not happen in any other developed country in the world. Every country around the world has anguished, depressed teens who see violence throughout the culture. If those countries are preventing teens from ever making that choice, why aren't we?