Some Thoughts on The Uvalde Shooting. What Now?
What should we do about the Uvalde school shooting? Now What? My friends who lean left (of whom I have many) are convinced we need more gun laws and gun control. My friends who lean to the right (of whom I also have many) are convinced we need more armed protection.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, the fact is that school shootings are statistically very rare. The wall-to-wall coverage from the national media makes it seem as though they occur all of the time. Other acts of equal magnitude receive little or no attention. In the last 72 hours in Chicago, 4 individuals have been killed and 25 have been injured in various forms of violence involving guns. What makes the Uvalde situation different is the fact that is at a school and victims are innocent children.
Those on the left often use the term “Common Sense legislation.” I would suggest that we already have common sense legislation. Everything that man did in Uvalde Texas yesterday was illegal and violated a law. From the planning of the event down to trespassing; it was all illegal. So those on the right would say passing more laws will not change behavior and will only penalize those who follow laws.
For example, when we see drivers on the highway driving 70 MPH in a 60, some react by thinking we need to reduce the speed limit. Unfortunately, those who drive 70 in a 60 will continue to drive 70 regardless of the speed limit. The same, my friends on the right would say, holds true with gun laws. Only those who follow laws will obey new ones. Those intent on doing harm with guns will do so regardless of the laws.
Another argument my friends on the right would make is that once the government goes down the slippery slope of restricting constitutional rights, there is no stopping them. A brief review of the governments past performance would confirm this. For example, in Maryland, the seat belt law was originally a “secondary offense,” in that you could only be charged with it if someone was pulled over by an officer something else and discovered it while stopped. It took one year before that was changed, and now police officers can look at a driver in a car and pull him over if they think he is not wearing his seatbelt.
That might be a small example, but on a larger scale, look at the policy of our government and their treatment of Native Americans. Promises after promises were not kept, and we all know how that ended. By the way, one of the biggest wants and needs of Native Americans from the government as they were placed on reservations was guns for hunting and protection. Our government refused to provide guns to them and continued to disarm them at any opportunity.
My friends on the left would insist that the carnage seen using guns trumps all of these concerns and we should enact legislation that would restrict who can own a gun and what type of guns should be available for the general public. They look at other countries as models. Countries such as UK and Japan have very stringent laws and have seen success in reducing gun crime.
My left leaning friends would also say that as a US citizen we do not have a constitutional right to own an assault weapon.
One of the biggest problems, as I see it is that, once again, there are two sets of rules. One for the government and those in charge, and one for everyone else. Those policy makers who advocate stricter gun laws and regulations often promote “Gun Free Zones” and other type of policies; however, when these policy makers are, themselves, in public they are protected by armed protectors.
When Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reponed after the tragic shooting in 2018 in which 17 people were killed and 17 were injured, there were several changes implemented. There were fewer accessible entrances, additional law enforcement officers were at each entrance, identification badges for students and staff, and the requirement that all book bags must be clear plastic. The use of metal detectors was under consideration. Several students criticized the new safety measures as ineffective and intrusive.
So, while students who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida were holding rallies to call for fewer guns, when it came to their school, they chose to add more guns. This follows the criticism from the right that rules are intended for everyone else, but not for rule makers.
Back to our original question, what should we do? I honesty see both sides of this issue. In my 30 years in education, I can confidently say that most schools tighten safety procedures after an event like this and then slowly become complacent. Do you think those ID badges at Marjorie Stoneman are still being enforced? I would bet they weren’t yesterday, but I bet they are today. Many have been calling for more stringent entrance procedures for outsiders. My suspicion is that these were already in place and, perhaps, not followed because of complacency. Apparently, all of the victims were in one classroom. This indicates a connection of some sort to someone in that classroom, and possibly that he was known to the school. We’ll have to wait and see. There are just too many things still unknown about this incident to make any judgements. Apparently, the shooter killed his grandmother prior to going to the school. That is a clear indication of his instability and that this was a suicidal act.
There has been a recent movement to eliminate SRO’s from public schools because of racial considerations and the “school to prison pipeline.” In the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, school districts from Minneapolis to Denver to Portland to Oakland have all voted to terminate their police departments’ contracts with SROs and eliminate police in schools.
The answer, as I see it is to protect and defend our schools and, ultimately, our children. We seem to have no problem doing this at airports, so why not schools? An SRO at the entrance at every school to check ID’s and question individuals would go a long way. My experience shows me that SRO’s who are in schools have offices deep inside the school building and are forbidden by agreements between the school system and police agency from being assigned a specific post. This needs to be addressed.
We also have to realize and understand that anyone intent on doing that much harm is very difficult to stop, whether he is going in a schoolhouse or a shopping center, and, thus, the mental health component must be considered in this problem. I also agree that there is no constitutional right to own a military grade weapon.
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The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.