Wayne LaPierre’s assertion that “The only thing that stops a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun” is a lie. There is something else. Something better. Something sanctioned by law enforcement, with a long record of success. If we can’t get our elected lawmakers to play offense on gun safety, let’s play defense on child safety. They’ve hardened their hearts, let’s harden our schools.
I am willing to bet, if the Newtown parents could go back in time and change one thing about Sandy Hook Elementary School, it would not be that there was an armed guard, or a teacher with a gun, who may (or may not) have been able to kill the well-armed, suicidal Adam Lanza, without harming any kids in the crossfire. I suspect their wish would be that there had been someplace in that classroom where Adam Lanza’s bullets could not get to their children until the police could.
Think about all the places that have something, (or someone) they want to keep safe. Banks? Some banks might have a retired policeman near the door for his deterrent value, but what they count on is their vault. Brinks doesn’t transfer money in pickup trucks surrounded by their armed guards, they have armored cars. Well-armed soldiers still build bunkers. Even President Obama, who is surrounded by men with guns, rides in an armored limousine and lives behind bulletproof windows. The truth is, no matter how many “good guys” have guns, our best defense has always been to make the target hard to reach.
So why aren’t we talking about hardening the schools?
Senator Diane Feinstein’s weapons bill contains money for school security. It is one of the few gun safety provisions proposed so far that has not been rejected by the NRA and their enthralled members of congress. The NRA sees it as money to hire armed guards. But why can’t it be used to make a place to escape?
The great majority of schools in this country have cinder block walls where the only thing required would be a steel core door on each classroom that a teacher could pull closed and lock. Better still, with today’s technology, just closing that door could send an alarm to police. All we need is a way to keep our children safe from a shooter for the few minutes until the first responders can arrive.
Some schools have classrooms with supply closets or bathrooms or coat closets big enough to squish in for a few minutes, that can be bullet-proofed. There will be school grounds we can fence in to keep the next Lanza from shooting his way in. I know there will be some schools that just can’t be retrofitted, but let’s not scrap a plan to make most of our schools safe because we can’t make them all that way.
I am not a security expert, but there are people who are. Let’s have them take a look at each school, one by one, and make recommendations. Each school would then make their own unique plan to develop a safe space in every classroom. Get input from the parents. From the police. Then submit the school plan for a federal grant. If the only bill the NRA will allow us to pass is for school safety, then let’s make our schools safe from the shooters the NRA enables.
Hardening the schools does not threaten to take one gun away, make an ammunition clip one bullet smaller, or create an owner registration. It will be hard for the NRA to argue hiding our children is somehow unfair to shooters. Would it be expensive? No doubt. But unlike an armed guard, which is expensive forever, this would be a one-time expenditure. Once a room is safe, it’s safe. And unlike an armed guard, it is unobtrusive, and can’t make a fatal mistake.
We are the adults who are supposed to protect our children. If we have elected people too inadequate to do it through gun laws, then shame on us; we deserve to shoulder the cost of doing it with dollars. At a minimum, we could mandate all new schools be designed with a safety solution in every classroom. That costs nothing. And by the way, though this coincidental benefit should not be a part of any decision making process that affects our endangered children, retrofitting schools with steel doors and safe spaces will be quite a boon to the economy, both large scale, for the companies that will do the manufacturing and sales and engineering, and small scale, for the local communities who will hire the contractors and installers.
The school safety solution is not a replacement for gun legislation. It won’t protect movie theaters and shopping malls and the guy in the fender bender who cracks the tail light of a driver with temper issues. It’s not what we should do. It’s what we might be able to do. How can the NRA tell congress they must not allow us to remove our children from the battlefield?
Interested in the Subject? Read Jean Ann Esselink’s other suggestions for gun safety measures:
- Mandatory Gun Insurance – A Practical Plan to Change America’s Cowboy Gun Culture
- Temporary Restraint Orders – How To Separate Unstable People From Their Guns
- Obamacare Coverage For All Children Hurt By Guns
- And this think piece: Jesse’s Daddy Buys A Gun
Shooter image from Freedigitalphotos.net
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.