School Shooting Solutions

By Adriana Cohen

February 23, 2018 5 min read

As almighty as the government thinks it is, it can't legislate hate away. It can't eradicate mental illness, undo a bad childhood or make an evil person good.

But what it can do in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland — the worst in Florida's history — is implement a series of common-sense measures to keep our kids safe in school. The first would be addressing gun laws that allowed the accused Parkland shooter to legally purchase an assault rifle despite the fact that he'd been treated for mental illness and behavioral problems; posted violent threats on social media, including saying he wanted to be a "professional school shooter"; and displayed other red flags that should've restricted his ability to buy a firearm of any kind.

At this juncture, Americans ought to come to a consensus that gun control isn't a Republican or Democratic issue; it's a common-sense issue. Dangerous individuals with a long history of troubling behavior shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun. Period.

Some strict Second Amendment advocates will argue that tougher gun laws wouldn't stop criminals from getting guns illegally on the black market. This is true, and the gun violence in Chicago, a city with tough gun laws, is a prime example. But tougher gun laws would've blocked the accused Parkland shooter from legally buying a gun, and that fact must not be overlooked.

It's not a zero-sum game.

Next, the Department of Justice and Congress must address the FBI's goliath failure to take appropriate action after receiving credible tips about the accused shooter's deranged and violent social media posts, along with other major indicators that a massacre was imminent. This inexplicable incompetence has prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to call for FBI Director Christopher Wray's resignation. With good reason.

What's the point of an FBI tip line if credible tips that warrant intervention go unchecked?

What happened at the FBI is both a managerial and a procedural breakdown that must be fixed immediately, with or without Wray's resignation.

Then there is the issue of onsite school safety. All schools across the nation must review their existing protocols and evaluate what they could do to enhance security overall. This includes the placement of metal detectors at schools and increasing the presence of armed guards, as well as having key faculty members, such as the principal and vice principal, become trained to use a firearm, an idea President Donald Trump weighed in on this week. He tweeted: "History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!" He added: "If a potential 'sicko shooter' knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won't go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won't work!"

What should also be considered is turning K-12 schools into gated communities. Fencing would be installed surrounding school property, with an armed guard manning a security gate. Anyone wishing to enter school property would have to show ID to the guard. This measure would've stopped the accused Parkland shooter from entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as a security guard would've noticed he did not have a student ID badge and had no legitimate reason to enter school grounds.

Many retirement communities throughout the U.S. are gated communities. And plenty of Hollywood elites live in secure enclaves to ensure their safety. Why not provide the same protection to our children during school hours?

While listening sessions with lawmakers and public discussion continue, it's important for stakeholders to acknowledge that complex societal problems aren't monolithic and rarely have a simple solution. We need a multi-pronged approach that plugs the many cracks in the system that need fixing.

Americans must pressure lawmakers and school officials to enact real change — not lip service — before another preventable tragedy takes place.

Enough is enough.

Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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