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May 21, 2018

Musings is still not going to comment on the Santa Fe, Texas killer, because as so often happens in these cases, as time passes we are finding out that he was not the kind, gentle, sweet person his family and friends thought he was. It’s  likely he hadn’t been that person for a long time before he finally acted on whatever his personal demons were telling him to do.

In today’s morally and legally rudderless world, it’s a foregone conclusion there are hundreds of students sitting at their computers right now planning on how to become the next school attacker.

And this was an attack, not just a shooting. This killer had ample means available to kill people even if he hadn’t had so much as a single cartridge.

We won’t ever be able to identify the people who want to kill fast enough to neutralize them, nor can we take away all the weapons available to them.

What we can do is focus on why he was able to walk into a school and inflict carnage on his classmates and teachers.

Of course the first question is what we do to stop this sort of thing, and everyone has pretty much said the same things they always say after a tragedy at a school.

By now, the idea of having just one entry point to a school, preferably just outside the entry door, has been obvious ever since Columbine.

So what do we do to make that actually happen?

How about just locking the doors? It doesn’t cost a cent to do that.

Yes, there are things that do cost money that go along with that, but first and foremost, it comes down to controlling ingress and egress.

Musings contends that leaving this completely up to local school districts is no longer an option. If they haven’t figured that out in the last 20 years, they aren’t going to do so.

It’s far too easy for local  jurisdictions to fall prey to the ostrich-head-in-sand syndrome, i.e. to say “well, this will never happen in our community.”

There is the inescapable question of money, because sooner or later you have to unlock the doors and let the kids in the building. Then what?

The first thing we could do is make Federal dollars contingent on the schools proving that they have actually implemented this most basic of defenses.

It’s actually obscene that we have the media reporting nonstop on teachers striking for higher salaries, but not about locking the doors.

Just about every local election has some sort of multi-million school bond increase on the ballot these days, to build more classrooms, auditoriums, new schools or sports complexes.

How about allocating some of that money to fences, metal detectors and body scanners?

Having said that though, it should be possible for smaller and poorer school districts to get Federal funding to purchase body scanners, which average in the neighborhood of $200 to $250K each and require at least two people to use, one to scan, another to physically search the person if necessary.

What about some of the other suggestions?

The Texas authorities have it right when they say that trying to put enough SROs in the schools to have an actual effect on these situations is fundamentally unworkable, purely from a manpower standpoint.

Arming school employees might be part of the answer, but expecting a civilian to control these attackers just won’t work on a nationwide scale. Also, it takes months to adequately prepare  a civilian to become a school defender, because of necessity, that means you have to prepare them to kill without hesitation if necessary.

As a nation we don’t seem to understand just what that requires, and we certainly don’t seem to understand that there is no politically correct way to do it.

Quite frankly, if you are going to have teachers or custodians carry guns then they have to actually carry them. Making them lock their weapons up in a cabinet somewhere 50 feet or more from the classroom or hall doesn’t deter anything.

Mental health counseling is part of the answer, but what do you do about someone who doesn’t torture animals or beat up his mother? If the student isn’t a disciplinary problem, and the Texas attacker apparently wasn’t,  then how would you even know to refer him or her for treatment?

Further inspection of this particular attacker shows that there were clues to his mental state on his computer, but doesn’t say whether anyone, even another student, knew about it and told someone.

Background checks or raising the minimum age to buy a gun didn’t have any effect on what happened in Santa Fe, Texas, Jackson Hole, WY or Pompano Beach, FL.

His parents obviously didn’t pay a lot of attention to what he was doing in that trailer but does that make them criminally responsible for his actions?

Parents should perhaps be held at least financially responsible in some cases, but we haven’t even heard whether there was a gun cabinet, whether he had a key to it or broke into where the guns were kept or what.  Nor have we heard whether they knew he had problems and if so, whether they were doing anything about it.

There’s another problem, and that’s the expectations of the kids themselves.

This weekend Musings again asked several teenagers how they really feel about single access entry, having their backpacks or lockers searched or having multiple armed guards in the school.

And again, every single one was highly insulted, with a couple saying that they felt like that was punishing them, not the attackers, or the NRA, or President Trump or whomever they were blaming for these incidents.

Absolutely lost on them was that every one of them is both a potential victim and a prime suspect.

School shooters are almost always students, meaning that the cute guy in study hall or the quiet, plain girl in the library could just as easily be a closet psychopath as they could be the next dead kid.

That kind of logic is also lost on the David Hogg’s and Emma Gonzales’ of the world as well as the vampires who exploit them.

Grownups don’t like being frisked by the TSA, or seeing cops on every street corner in New York, but they recognize that is the price we have had to pay since 9/11.

And yes, something is seriously wrong with our culture.

It isn’t just violent videos. Shoot-’em-up bang-bang movies and books and yes, guns, have been around forever, and kids didn’t shoot up their schools every week.

We as a society have unbalanced the world kids that grow up in today. Nothing is absolute.

In a world where we are OK with parents who drop something as important as gender in the laps of the kids themselves at birth, is it any wonder that the kids are screwed up?

If something as simple as the concept of right and wrong isn’t defined and taught, you get what we have today.

All of the outside things people are blaming are probably factors, but that will take generations to fix. That doesn’t protect even one classroom.

Locking the school doors can be done tomorrow.

From → op-ed

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