School systems across the country are beefing up security in the wake of the Newtown massacre that took the lives of 20 young children and six educators, including the principal and school psychologist who confronted the gunman.
(Here is a story on the White House’s plan to meet this week with gun violence victims’ groups, gun safety organizations, gun ownership groups and representatives from the entertainment and video-game industries to discuss ways to stop the next Newtown.)
One response is to increase the number of guns in schools, either through armed police officers in every school rather than only in middle and high schools or by allowing trained adults in the buildings to carry firearms.
Those advocates argue that it was not by chance that Adam Lanza chose an elementary school to stage his deadly attack. He had attended the local schools and probably knew he would face a greater possibility of armed resistance in the middle school and high school.
However, other assailants have targeted schools with armed school resource officers, including the Columbine High killers. In talking to experts on school shootings, they describe the shooters as disturbed young men who expect to die so the presence of an armed police officer on the campus may not matter to them. Their goal is to kill as many other people as possible before being stopped by an officer’s bullet or by a self-inflicted one.
A police officer in every school is costly so state Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, is proposing to allow school administrators to carry concealed weapons in buildings, school events and on school buses. Battles says House Bill 35 bill is not a mandate.
As posters here have noted, an effective deterrent in Newtown was a locked classroom door. There is a call to fortify classroom doors and to get rid of doors with breakable glass windows.
Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, has prepared legislation lawmakers could consider when they return to session beginning next week. The bill would empower school boards to allow one or more administrators to carry a weapon at school, at a school function or on a bus. Anyone chosen to carry a weapon would have to complete a state peace officer training course and qualify each year.
Battles said he’d rather have a trained police officer in every school but local boards and the state don’t have the money.
“We went through the discussion process of even possibly deputizing some of the administrators,” Battles said. “We had long discussions about different approaches. We came up with what I feel is the cleanest, most appropriate way for school systems to deal with their inability to provide security.”
The bill does not require an administrator in each school to be armed but provides the option.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog